Nathan (vovat) wrote,

Thursdays with Moroni, Part 6: Jesus H. City-Crushing Christ!

Yes, after a lot of build-up, Jesus has FINALLY decided to actually show up. But first we have to get through the book of Helaman, which tells how most of the Nephites lost their faith, while some of the Lamanites converted. There's a secret society of thieves that gains prominence among the Nephites, and it's a Lamanite prophet named Samuel who predicts that there will be no night when Jesus is born, and no day when he dies. Since it wasn't likely that too many potential followers in the nineteenth century would believe the old concept of the Sun standing still in the sky, Joseph Smith states that God accomplishes this by turning the Earth backwards for a little while. Hey, Superman did it! We also learn about a new prophet named Nephi (there apparently wasn't much variation in names among these early Americans), who brought many people back to God by causing a famine through prayer. And we learn that the Devil conspired with Cain and his followers (I know Cain was a murderer, but Joe's hatred of this Biblical figure goes a lot further than the actual Bible ever did), and planned the Tower of Babel. Satan is behind pretty much everything bad in the Book of Mormon, even though many scholars think that the idea of Satan as the source of evil didn't originate until the time of Persian rule over the Jews, which of course the Nephites and Lamanites wouldn't have experienced.

Next come two books known as 3 and 4 Nephi, although this Nephi is the prophet I mentioned in the last paragraph, not the one from the beginning. 3 Nephi finally brings in the big guy himself, but not until after the new Nephi has worked a lot of miracles in his name, including restoring his brother to life. There's also a mention of a division of the people into tribes, which I guess Smith thought didn't exist until the first century BC. When Jesus finally does appear, honestly, it's a little disappointing. He mostly just repeats a lot of the Sermon on the Mount (perhaps the entire thing, for that matter; I didn't do a direct comparison of the two), appoints twelve new disciples in America, and heals a bunch of people. If we take the Book of Mormon as a literary work, it seems like bad fanfiction in which the author's idea of keeping an established character consistent with what had gone before was to have him say and do the exact same things he did in the canon. There are a few interesting new tidbits, however. My personal favorite is that Jesus, at the time of the resurrection, announces his arrival by destroying a whole lot of cities in the New World. Wait, is this supposed to be the Son of God or Godzilla? While in America, he transfigures some followers by touching them with his finger, after which they're immune to pretty much any danger. Oh, and he not-too-modestly says that the Mormon church should be named after him, which I guess is why it's the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints. After Jesus leaves, most of the people just go right back to their heresies, thieving societies, and mammon worship, which kind of makes his visit pretty much pointless. Yeah, I know about history repeating itself, but there doesn't appear to be much rhyme or reason for why the Nephites and Lamanites turn toward or against Christianity at any given time.
Tags: bible, mormonism, religion
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