Answering for His Order: Alma's Clash with the Nehors

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Answering for His Order: Alma's Clash with the Nehors

Author Matthew Scott Stenson

From the beginning, Lehite culture was richly oral and often divided over the question of authority (see Alma 1–2, 8–14, 30). On one side of the conflict stood the prophets, and on the other side stood "popular" opportunistic figures, wise in their own eyes, who resemble in a general way classical sophists (Alma 1:3; see 2 Ne. 9:28). In this article, Matthew Scott Stenson examines one of the most significant conflicts between the prophets and the sophists (or Nehors, as they are often called in the Book of Mormon). This conflict involves Alma and his three speeches to the people of Ammonihah. Stenson shows that the theme of authority runs strongly through these chapters of the book of Alma, from his first unsuccessful attempt to preach the gospel in this apostate city to his miraculous escape from prison, with his preaching companion Amulek, that ends this episode.