Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Book of Mormon, Nephi1


Trained to accept only material evidence, professional historians since the late nineteenth century have avoided writing “providential history”—history that acknowledges the hand of God in shaping human events. Even believing historians, lacking prophetic insight and revelation, have been at a loss to determine God’s role in the historical process. In Latter-day Saint tradition, the Book of Mormon, and especially the sweeping visions of prophet-historian Nephi, is seen as a welcome corrective. In defining God’s plan for the salvation of humankind, identifying specific instances of divine providence (e.g., the discovery and colonization of the American promised land), and outlining the principles governing such intervention (e.g., the higher purposes behind God’s ongoing covenant relationship with the house of Israel), Nephi’s writings greatly inform the modern LDS understanding of providential history.