There are 8 thoughts on “Lehi and Nephi as Trained Manassite Scribes”.

  1. Pingback: How Does the Book of Mormon Text Reflect a Seventh-Century-BC Israelite Writing Style? | Meridian Magazine

  2. Wonderful and thought provoking analysis. I found it interesting to consider the possibility that Lehi and Nephi may have helped in the creation of the brass plates. However, there is one possible sticking point with this idea. The contents of the plates (5 books of Moses, etc.) seem to have been unknown to Lehi until he sat down to study them. Also, when he learned that he was a descendant of Joseph, that seems to have been novel information (1 Nephi 5:10-16). If Lehi and Nephi participated in the creation of the plates it seems they would have been more aware of their contents.

  3. Fascinating and illuminating, as always. On the comment that “the Kerala Jews on the southeast coast of India who told a 17th century British sea captain that they were descendants of Manasseh that had been carried by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces to the east end of the Babylonian empire after the fall of Jerusalem”, I was reminded that Margaret Barker once alerted me to a book by Reverend Thomas Torrence called China’s First Missionaries: Ancient Israelites (London, Thynne & Co., 1937) making a case that a community in Western China were descendants of the tribes of Israel, and maintained the customs of pre-exilic Israelites. I found a copy for myself. And similarly near the same time, a Japanese-American student gave me a copy of a paper he had written called “Shinto-Judaism Common Origin Theory in Light of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship” (2004), 80 pages.

  4. As usual, Noel Reynolds’ unique skills at reading the Book of Mormon bring more insight into the relationship between the ability to read and understand the brass plates as an important skill for the special prophetic writers of the Book of Mormon.

    This method of reading invites us to seek important answers to questions about how the Book of Mormon was written, why the authors employ the rhetorical modes they do, and possible reasons why the gift and power of God is necessary to translate the sacred language employed by the Lord’s servants in writing it. All this suggests that receiving the plates also required learning special linguistic and rhetorical skills in order to read what came before and to write the next part of the record.

    Much praise to Noel Reynolds for blazing this new trail that takes us back to the historical context of the writing of the brass plates and how they are closely connected to the writing of the Book of Mormon.

  5. I read your paper and was fascinated with the implications! Thank you. However, I was also amazed that you made no mention of the Lachish Letters and their implications for literacy among the more common folk. In addition, from Ancient Aramaic and Hebrew Letters by James M. Lindenberger, I got the impression that not only the military found reading and writing of value but its value to commerce was indispensable. The doubled sealed documents that date back to the Sumerians and on to the Romans and the abundance of commercial documents in cuneiform should clue us moderns that the ancients were much more literate than we want to admit. I must assume that Laman and Lemuel must have had the basic ability for commercial purposes, if nothing else. Just an old bankers perspective. Thank you for a stimulating read.

    • Thanks for reading the paper. I am not an expert on Hebrew epigraphy, so I depend heavily on scholars in that field. In recent decades they seem to have moved on to the view that Israel was very much an oral culture, like its ANE neighbors, and that developed literacy was not widespread. Trained scribes were highly literate, but constituted a tiny percentage of the population.

  6. An error in footnote 118 (referenced by 70): I think you mean pp. 321-322, not 323-324. I assume you’re referring to this passage (transcribed as best I can):

    They have a Synagogue at Couchin, not far from the King’s Palace, about 2 Miles from the City, in which are carefully kept their Records, engraven on Copper-plates in Hebrew Characters; and when any of the Characters decay, they are new cut, so that they can they can show their own History from the Reign of Nebuchadnezzar to this present time.

  7. Outstanding piece, as usual.

    “It also appears that Nephi may have been the only one of Lehi’s sons who received that scribal training in Jerusalem.”

    I was struck by a similar thought a few years ago, reading those same chapters in 1 Nephi, since Laman and Lemuel never quote or allude to the contents of the brass plates, and are never described as reading such. I also wondered if Nephi’s decision to take the brass plates with him (2 Nephi 5:12) was in part because he knew that Laman and Lemuel couldn’t read them and would probably just melt them down for the metal.

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