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Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

Article Title

Tools and Instruments

Keywords

missionaries, instruments, writings, The Book of Mormon, sons of Mosiah, Anti-Nephi-Lehies

Abstract

In Alma 26:2, the Nephite Christian missionary Ammon asks his brothers, "What great blessings has [God] bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?" Having been quite successful in his endeavors, Ammon answers his own question by stating that he and his brothers "have been made instruments in the hands of God" (Alma 26:3). The phrasing seems self-explanatory: Ammon and his brothers are tools God uses to "bring about this great work'' (Alma 26:3).1 Yet just a verse later, Ammon appears to confuse the metaphor when he commends his brothers: "The field is ripe and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might" (Alma 26:5). Here, it is not the missionaries who are instruments, but rather they are the ones who use instruments. Are Ammon and his brethren tools in the hands of God? Or do they use tools (sickles) to reap a harvest of souls? And what does it mean to be an "instrument"? Using this passage as a springboard, I will look more generally at the use of language concerning tools, instruments, and weapons in the writings attributed to Mormon in the Book of Mormon. Key, in my view, is a comparison, carefully woven, between the sons of Mosiah and the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.

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