Friday, July 16, 2010

"I Know That The Record That I Make Is True" 1 Nephi 1

There is a great deal of information to be learned from just the first three verses of the Book of Mormon from the record of Nephi.
In verse 1, look for all the things we learn about Nephi.
1Nephi 1:1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
First, we learn that he had “goodly” parents, or was taught correct principles. This is an important piece of information for us to know. Having a foundation of truth to build upon is essential for anyone to come to a sure knowledge.
Next, we learn that he had seen many afflictions in his life. Trials or tests are part of the learning process we go through in this life to prove us. The test of obedience and sacrifice is made more fully when one is experiencing difficulty, as is illustrated by Job. It is interesting to note the attitude Nephi has about his afflictions as he adds, nevertheless that he was highly favored of the Lord.
Could Nephi have viewed afflictions as part of the process he was to experience to receive a sure knowledge of truth?
Do we view our afflictions and trials as ways we can increase our faith as we come to know the Lord?
Finally we learn that he had come to a “great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God.” This knowledge came to Nephi because of the experiences that he had, allowing him to receive of the Lord. This is made clear because he shares that mysteries, for man, were revealed to him by a higher source than man.
This process:
1) of learning true principles by faith, or having a belief
2) then passing through tests which allow us to experience a trial of that faith,
results in the blessing of “great knowledge”, even of the mysteries of God.
I believe that even in the very first verse of Nephi’s record he is trying to help us understand what it will take for us to receive the same “great knowledge” that he has received.

In verses 2-3, look for what we learn about the record.
1 Nephi 1:2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.
3 And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.
The first thing we discover is that Nephi makes the record himself, with his own hand. This establishes the fact that Nephi is the creator of the record we are to receive. Even though he explains that it is written in the language of his father, it is still his account of his experiences with the Lord.
The fact that he is the creator of the record allows for the easy transition he makes to testify of the records truthfulness. He states he made it, he knows it is true and adds the reason that he is able to make this bold statement is because of his “knowledge”.
What have we already discovered he “knew” by the description of himself in verse 1?
Not only can we have confidence in Nephi, because he has shared his experience of the process of “knowing”, but we can now have confidence in the record too. We discover that one who “knows” gives us a statement of its truthfulness.

What must we do to have the same knowledge as Nephi does?


Anonymous said...

"Goodly Parents" refers to his parents social/financial status. Nephi is stating that having been blessed to be born in a house with wealth, I was able to receive a good education. This would be important considering how few people could read and write during Nephi's day (let alone read or write multiple languages as Nephi did). Education in the ancient world was always synonymous with wealth.

Unlike Joseph Smith who as a boy simply "translated" the Book of Mormon, Nephi was to keep a comprehensive record and be able to read and write from different languages at the same time (Hebrew and Egyptian/Reformed Egyptian).

Even in instances where "goodly" might mean "of high quality" such quality would always require high monetary value.

Other references to the use of "goodly":

Matt 13:45
Deut. 6:10
Deut. 8:12
Gen. 27:15

Consider Hugh Nibley's discussion of this phrase:

"The opening verse of the Book of Mormon explains the expression "goodly parents" not so much in a moral sense as in a social one: Nephi tells us he came of a good family and "therefore" received a good traditional education: "I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father" (1 Nephi 1:1). He was of the tribe of Manasseh, which of all the tribes retained the old desert ways and was most active in the caravan trade...Lehi was a man possessed of exceeding great wealth in the form of "gold and silver, and all manner of riches" (1 Nephi 3:16; 2:4). He had "his own house at Jerusalem" (1 Nephi 1:7); yet he was accustomed to "go forth" from the city from time to time (1 Nephi 1:5-7), and his paternal estate, the land of his inheritance, where the bulk of his fortune reposed, was some distance from the town (1 Nephi 3:16, 22; 2:4). He came of an old, distinguished, and cultured family (1 Nephi 5:14-16)."

Hugh Nibley, "Lehi as a Representative Man," Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 46.

I hope that was helpful! Great blog!

In The Doghouse said...

I can fully appreciate the reference that “goodly” has to being associated with a social/financial status; however, I believe it can have an even deeper meaning when pondered further.

The footnote for the word “goodly” in the Book of Mormon references Proverbs 22:1, which points us in an entirely different direction than wealth for the term. Also, the footnote for the word parents points us to Mosiah 1:2 where we find that “the learning of the fathers” is specifically connected with “becoming men of understanding concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord.”

I believe that the term could have a duel purpose for being placed there in the very beginning of the book.

Thanks for the additional perspective that you have added.