Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch14:2:Pre-Christian Christian-like Thought

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Pre-Christian Christian-like Thought

Pre-Christian Christian-like Thought

Since the first publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, devout scholars have been busy reassuring their co-religionists that "no Christian need stand in dread of these texts,"15 while admitting, for example, that "the Isaiah scroll was received with consternation in some circles,"16 and that "the results were shocking," when they started to study the new-found text of Samuel.17 Nevertheless, the defensive tone of such reassurances, with their frequent references to alarm and misgiving, shows plainly enough a "startling disclosure: that the sect possessed, years before Christ, a terminology and practice that have always been considered uniquely Christian;"18 and this has administered a severe shock to the complacency of conventional Christianity. "It is as though God had added to his 'once for all' revelation," writes a devout Presbyterian scholar,19 while the readers of the Catholic World are assured that "it is only to be expected that there will be certain likenesses between . . . the community at Qumran and the Church of the New Law, both of them 'seeking' the true God and striving to be perfect, each in his own way. . . . The revelation of the New Testament was not, so to speak, built up on a vacuum."20
If that is "only to be expected," why has the Book of Mormon been so savagely attacked by ministers on the very grounds of likeness between the Book of Mormon pre-Christian churches and the Christians?21 If it was "only to be expected," why did it prove so startling and upsetting? Because of the scrolls, writes Frank Moore Cross, "the strange world of the New Testament becomes less baffling, less exotic."22 The charge of being "baffling," "strange," and "exotic" is that most constantly hurled at the Book of Mormon description of the religious world of the ancient Americans. Have the scholars any reason to believe it was any less so than the relatively familiar "world of the New Testament"?[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 14, references silently removed—consult original for citations.