Friday, April 2, 2010

Purpose of the Brass Plates

According to Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, in their book, ”Ancient America and the Book of Mormon,” Lehi’s interest in the Brass Plates was so the Nephites could retain the Egyptian language. They wrote:

“The prophet Lehi considered it of utmost importance that the Egyptian language and Egyptian script be preserved among his descendants. This was one of the principal reasons for his taking the "brass plates" along to the New World” (Hunter & Ferguson, p 99).

However, numerous scriptures tell us a very different story about the importance of the brass plates and why they were taken to the land of promise. The Lord commanded Lehi to obtain them (1 Nephi 3:4) for his people could not keep the commandments of the Lord without possessing the law (1 Nephi 4:15) and the law was engraven upon the plates of brass (1 Nephi 4:16). Nephi was commanded to kill Laban to obtain these plates for "it is better that one man should perish than a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief." (1 Nephi 4:13).

Around 500 years later, Alma clearly understood the value of these plates when he said, "And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning" (Alma 37:3). Note the issue here is not the language in which the plates were engraved, but the message upon the plates that was important. Lehi further added that the plates of brass would go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed (1 Nephi 5:18) and Alma passed this on to his sons: "It has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred and tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon." (Alma 37:4).

We are even told why the message on these plates was so important. "Were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on the plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer." (Alma 37:9)

Hunter and Ferguson can claim the Egyptian language was one of the principal reasons for taking the plates along, but Nephi saw it quite differently: "The plates...were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, in somuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children. Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise." (1 Nephi 5:21-22)

When people set out to write about the geography of the Land of Promise and so misconstrue the scriptures to such an extent, regardless of the subject, as Mesoamerican Theorists do, one must wonder about the integrity of the writer and the subject of his writing

1 comment:

  1. I find your post interesting and prophetic to what I just now heard listening to the Saturday afternoon session of Conference on April 2, when D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve said: "How important it was for Lehi to take the brass plates with them for these scriptures were the key to their knowledge of God and coming redemption of Christ." He went on to draw a parallel with the Mulekites who had no scriptures and fell into unrighteousness, denying the being of their Creator. Note he said nothing about the importance of the Egyptian language :) Your website is great and I enjoying learning all that is posted here. Thanks again.