The Throne-Theophany and Prophetic Commission in 1 Nephi: A Form-Critical Analysis

The first chapter of the Book of Mormon, in the words of Hugh Nibley, “has the authenticity of a truly ancient pseudepigraphic writing stamped all over it. It is a well-nigh perfect example of the genre.” Indeed, the first chapter of 1 Nephi conforms precisely to a literary pattern that form-critical studies have demonstrated to be the very essence of the prophetic commission in ancient Israel which “gives the individual’s credentials as a prophet, messenger and ambassador of the heavenly council.”

After defining the literary pattern of the prophetic commission and its historical development, this article will examine the throne-theophany in 1 Nephi and compare the prophetic commission patter found therein with numerous Old Testament and pseudepigraphic sources. The account found in 1 Nephi will then be compared with nineteenth-century visions of God. Finally, this article will consider the probable origins of the pattern and indicate the significance of the form in the Book of Mormon.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 26:4
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