Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Studies in the Bible and Antiquity


The prophet Nephi declared that the Lord speaks to his people “according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3). Religious beliefs are an integral part of a culture’s shared “language,” and the ways in which individuals interpret supernatural manifestations is typically mediated through their cultural background. The hierophanies recorded in Latter-day Saint canon directly reflect the unique cultural background of the individuals who witnessed them. This paper analyzes several distinct hierophanies witnessed by prophets in both the Old and New Worlds and discusses the cultural context in which such manifestations occur, which aids modern readers in obtaining a greater understanding of the revelatory process recounted in these texts.