My first real introduction to symbolism came while I was serving my mission. It was in my last area (Aurora Colorado), and I was with my last companion. I was lucky to have a dedicated companion during my final months.
This companion happened to bring along an audio tape that would end up changing my general perspective about God and the Gospel of Christ. It was an obscure recording of a CES instructor, Todd B. Parker. I have tried to find a copy of the tape; my efforts have been in vain. However, the lecture impressed me so much that I took notes. Moreover, I have been able to find parts of this lecture on-line (in a FARMS publication).
This post will serve as part one in a series of posts in which I plan to share insights from the lecture.
I was reminded again of these insights when I visited Tyler’s blog earlier today. In the thread to one of his posts, an anti-mormon attempted to argue that Joseph Smith “fabricated [the Book of Mormon] out of thin air.” My first thought in response to this was: if he fabricated it out of thin air, he must have been a genius inspired by either God or the devil himself. Indeed, the lecture by Brother Parker reveals that Joseph would have to be a genius on many levels!
Of course everyone knows the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ — its subtitle declares it “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. But the coming forth of the book typifies Christ in a different manner, or from a different perspective. The manner in which it does this, you will see, is not coincidental. A simple list of the physical characteristics of the Book’s coming forth will show what I mean:
- The coming forth of the Book was declared by an angel (Moroni)
- Christ’s coming forth was declared by an angel (Gabriel)
- The Book came forth in a time of apostasy to restore truth
- Christ came in the meridian of time to restore truth
- The plates were laid away in a stone receptacle
- Christ was laid away in a stone receptacle (the tomb)
- It was taken from the receptacle by a man named Joseph
- Christ was put into the receptacle by a man named Joseph (of Arimathaea)
- The plates came forth from the receptacle after the stone was moved away
- Christ came forth after the stone was moved away
- An angel was there to see the coming forth of the plates (Moroni)
- An angel was there to see the coming forth of Christ from the tomb
- The first to see the plates (Joseph) was forbidden to touch them
- The first to see Christ (Mary Magdalene) was forbidden to touch him
- The book was attested to by 12 special witnesses (the 8, the 3, and Joseph himself)
- Christ had 12 special witnesses
- The Book of Mormon is the Word of God
- Christ is referred to as the Word of God
- The Book of Mormon teaches the fulness of the gospel
- Christ taught the fulness
So, if Joseph did fabricate the book out of “thin air”, he was a genius like the world had never seen, nor seen since. He would of had to consider all of these intricate types and shadows, on top of writing the book without extensive resources. And on top of it all, for some reason he decided not to expound upon his masterpiece; for I’ve never read of Joseph discussing these types.
Truly Joseph was the servant of God and brought forth this ancient record under the direction of the Almighty. This record, known as the Book of Mormon, testifies of Christ in more ways than one.
A comment of interest left by Tyler on July 19th, 2006
Elder Talmage talks about two general types of evidence for the veracity of the Book of Mormon: internal and external. I have always been impressed by the external evidence: chiasmus and the rest. Recent reading and pondering, however, have led me to be more impressed with the internal veracity of the Book of Mormon (I’m not sure, exactly, if the evidence of which Wade speaks here is internal or external).
I have, in particular, found it quite enlightening to study the Book of Mormon by prophet, searching for themes. I kind of like to pretend that I am compiling a “teaching of the living prophets” book for Nephi, or Jacob, or Mormon. My favorite, though, is Alma. A quick review of his sermons shows a wonderful consistency–no other prophet of whom I am aware gives more touching and profound insights into the process of rebirth effected by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What is striking, of course, is how naturall this theme flows from his life experience–being snatched from the flames of hell by angel in accordance with the prayers of his Father prepared Alma for his beautiful testament to the saving power of the Christ.