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.