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BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly

Abstract

In Lehi's Dream and Nephi's Vision: Apocalyptic Revelation in Narrative Context, Matthew Scott Stenson explores the qualities of apocalyptic literature found in the first two books of Nephi. Stenson shows how new insights can be gained by reading Nephi's record from the perspective of this ancient literary genre.

Isaiah 49:23–26 expresses the following dramatic prophecy portraying the Lord as a divine warrior:

And thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

This theme of the Lord as a divine warrior protective of his people is also used extensively by the early Nephite prophets in their teachings to describe the eschatological dualism between righteousness and wickedness that will exist in the last days. This passage, quoted both by Nephi (1 Ne. 21:23–26) and Jacob (2 Ne. 6:6 18), is in a way as messianic and apocalyptic in content and symbolic quality as are the biblical books of Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation. While it is arguably the most significant passage on deliverance in the first half of the Book of Mormon, many other Nephite texts likewise give valuable knowledge and assurances to the covenant people of the Lord on earth in the last days in the form of sweeping apocalyptic revelations. These densely allusive prophetic teachings are similar in message to the prophetic writings of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature.

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