Source:Echoes:Ch2:19:Divine council

Divine council and prophetic call in 1 Nephi

Divine council and prophetic call in 1 Nephi

[Joseph Smith] is also very unlikely, even had he been a diligent and deep student of it, to have deduced from his Bible the complex patterns associated with the calling of prophets that contemporary scholarship has begun to notice and discuss. Yet those patterns appear with striking clarity in the Book of Mormon—arguably, indeed, more clearly in the Book of Mormon than in the Bible or in any other single text coming to us from the ancient Near East. Diligent researchers have been obliged to piece the general pattern together from widely scattered documents. Yet Lehi's vision of God and his accompanying prophetic call, we now know, could serve as a textbook illustration of such visions and calls as they are recounted in ancient literature, complete with motifs of the heavenly book and the divine council that have only garnered scholarly attention in recent decades.

The Book of Mormon relates that Lehi was

overcome with the Spirit, [and] he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
This is clearly a vision of the divine council, known today from many ancient Near Eastern texts, that surrounds God and over which he presides. The Hebrew word s, which denotes that council, also refers to the counsel issued from it. It can often be interchanged, in this sense, with the Greek word mysterion. In ancient conceptions, it is frequently the prophet's admission to this council as a mortal human being, and his knowledge of its decrees and secrets, that lends him authority as an earthly spokesman for God. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing," said the ancient Israelite prophet Amos of Tekoa, "but he revealeth his secret [sôd] unto his servants the prophets."[1]


  1. Daniel C. Peterson, "Not Joseph's, and Not Modern," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 2, references silently removed—consult original for citations.