Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch25:1:Book of Mormon intellectual concerns differ from nineteenth century

Book of Mormon intellectual concerns differ from nineteenth century?

Book of Mormon intellectual concerns differ from nineteenth century?

The official Judaism is the work of "intellectuals" who are not, however, what they say they are, namely seekers after truth, but rather ambitious men eager to gain influence and followers. The Book of Mormon presents a searching study of these people and their ways. There is the devout Sherem, loudly proclaiming his loyalty to the Church and his desire to save it from those who believe without intellectual proof. There is Alma, who represents the rebellion of youth against the teachings of the fathers. There is Nehor, the Great Liberal, proclaiming that the Church should be popular and democratic, but insisting that he as an intellectual be given special respect and remuneration. There is Amlici, whose motive was power and whose tool was intellectual appeal. There is Korihor, the typical Sophist. There is Gadianton, whose criminal ambitions were masked by intellectual respectability. For the Old World an exceedingly enlightening tract on the ways of the intellectuals is Justin Martyr's debate with Trypho, which is also an interesting commentary on the Book of Mormon intellectuals whose origin is traced directly back to the "Jews at Jerusalem."...

How does it come about that the most devout and disciplined segment of the believers in every age always appear as a despised and persecuted minority, regarded by the society as a whole as religious renegades and at best as a lunatic fringe? For one thing, those believers themselves have always fully appreciated their uncomfortable position, which can readily be explained by any number of scriptural declarations. The world's ways are NOT God's ways; they do not get along well together, for each is a standing rebuke to the other—"in the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33).

In this conflict between two different views of religion, the opposition and overwhelming majority is as unchanging in its methods and attitudes as the saints themselves. It is hard to believe that the Book of Mormon was published more than a century ago when one reads its account of the smart, sophisticated, and scientific arguments put forward by those who would cast discredit on the whole Plan of Salvation. It is as modern as today's newspaper; the situations it describes are those characteristic of our own generation, and quite different from those of Joseph Smith's day, when one could still be a fundamentalist Christian and an intellectual.[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 25, references silently removed—consult original for citations.