Two ways, the way, Book of Mormon, gospel
Scholars have long recognized that a number of ancient cultures shared a traditional doctrine of the Two Ways that could be used to instruct youth and others in the right way to live their lives. While the language of the Two Ways surfaces on occasion in both the Old and New Testaments, the doctrine is not developed or explained in any detail in the Bible. However, noncanonical texts of the Greco-Roman period display a highly developed and stylized form of the doctrine in both Jewish and Christian traditions. The earliest known version of these stylized forms of the doctrine occurs in non-biblical writings such as Hesiod and some early Persian texts, but does not surface in the writings of biblical peoples until after the exile. While LDS scholar Hugh Nibley often noted in his voluminous writings that the Book of Mormon writers also used the Two-Ways doctrine, no one has yet undertaken a comparison of the Nephite teaching with these others. Because the Nephite prophets often referred to their central teaching of the gospel or doctrine of Christ as “the way” or “the right way,” I have undertaken this study to determine the extent to which their approach depends on any of these historical versions and to explore the ways in which their teaching may offer original explanations or formulations. An examination of twelve prominent occurrences of the doctrine of the Two Ways in the Book of Mormon shows that it is fully consistent with biblical examples, but that it goes far beyond them in providing background explanations for the doctrine of the Two Ways as the Nephite prophets adapt it to the gospel revealed to them by Jesus Christ.
Further, these passages display no familiarity with the stylized rhetorical form of the doctrine that characterizes the non-canonical Jewish and Christian texts of the Greco-Roman period.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Reynolds, Noel B., "The Ancient Doctrine of the Two Ways and the Book of Mormon" (2017). Faculty Publications. 1680.
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