One of the underlying themes in the Book of Mormon is the “two irreconcilable ideologies” as suggested by East versus West.1 Dr. Hugh W. Nibley wrote:
What we are to avoid in particular is that polarizing process that begins on the first page of the Book of Mormon and continues to the last. In the opening scene it is Egypt versus Babylon, West versus East, with Lehi’s people caught in the middle; and the book ends with the climactic confrontation at Cumorah, with Moroni caught between two wicked and warring peoples in a battle of annihilation.2
For example, Dr. Nibley called these robbers “warlike hunting tribes” who had come from Asia thousands of years before. They occupied the land northward and weren’t discovered by the Nephites and Lamanites for over 500 years.4 And the ancient conflict between East versus West is perhaps best described in The Hierocentric State and Tenting, Toll, and Taxing that outline the ancient formation, as well as the continuation and conflicts, of states.5 Both articles point out that “Kings must be hunters” and trace the origin of state formation from the “nomads of the steppes.” In contrast, and as subtext throughout the Book of Mormon and other scripture, those who sought for and obtained the kingdom of God6 “were pilgrims and strangers” caught in between warring factions seeking for control over the “kingdoms of the world” while they themselves were allegiant to a kingdom “not of this world.”7
The process of polarization as described in the Book of Mormon started, as perhaps it always does, in families.8 Eventually it led to a great division between the people.9 A cursory reading of the chapter headings to Mormon’s writings recounts the horrific ending.
Since the book is a “type and a shadow” of the latter days, one of the questions it seems to demand of its readers is, “will this happen again?”
What do you think?
- Nibley, Hugh W. The Book of Mormon a Minimal Statement. 2010. Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. 23 Oct 2011; hereafter Minimal Statement.↩
- Polarization in the Book of Mormon.↩
- See the definition used in Ricks, Stephen D. Foreword. Hugh W. Nibley. The Ancient State. 1991. Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. 23 Oct 2011; hereafter Foreword.↩
- Minimal Statement; compare Helaman 3:3-16.↩
- Nibley, Hugh. The Ancient State. 1991. Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. 23 Oct 2011.↩
- Compare 3 Nephi 13:9-13 to Matthew 6:9-13.↩
- See Foreword.↩
- 4 Nephi 1:38.↩
- 4 Nephi 1:35.↩