Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship


Grant Hardy


Nephi, Book of Mormon, technique, tradition, writing


Nephi was the only Book of Mormon author to receive what might be called a classical Hebrew education. He had ambivalent feelings about his training—indeed, he specifically noted that the tradition would end with himself: “I . . . have not taught my children after the manner of the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:6; see vv. 1–2). So it is not surprising that he remains the most literate, book-learned of the Nephite prophets. That is to say, his writings exhibit the most connections with earlier prophecies and texts, and he structures his teachings in a way that suggests he is working from written documents. In particular, he is eager to tie his own visions of the future of the House of Israel to the words of Isaiah, and his commentary at 1 Nephi 22—where he weaves phrases from the two Isaiah chapters he has just quoted into a new revelatory discourse—is a masterpiece of prophetic interpretation. The same style of commentary, which by placing familiar phrases into new contexts reinterprets as it explains, is found in a slightly more diffuse form at 2 Nephi 25–30.