Biblical Hesed and Nephite Covenant Culture


hesed, covenant, Book of Mormon


This paper follows the insights of Nelson Glueck, Frank Moore Cross, and others that the language of hesed in the Hebrew Bible is borrowed from the pre-legal cultures of desert tribes in the ancient Near East that incorporated their own deities into their kinship-based social structures. The Israelites had adapted that language to the religion of Yahweh and his covenant with Abraham and subsequently with the people of Israel. While this paper does not deal with the additional adaptations scholars find in the Mosaic covenant, the Davidic covenant, or in the New Testament, it does explore the text of the Book of Mormon, which explains its own pre-exilic origins, and finds that it strongly reflects the cultural values of ancient Israelite hesed—while further adapting the Israelite language of covenant to the revelation of Jesus Christ and his gospel as given to the earliest Nephite prophets and preached by their successors over the next thousand years.

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Working Paper

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Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Political Science

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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