As you may have noticed, I've been neglecting the Quran and the Book of Mormon lately. And I feel bad about that. So I've decided to blog my way through both god-awful books, revising the SAQ and SABoM as I go along. So if you see things that I've missed, misunderstood, misstated, or messed up, this is your chance to let me know.
The first book of the Book of Mormon is the First Book of Nephi. The author is a guy named Nephi who thinks quite a lot of himself. He had "goodly parents" was "highly favored of the Lord" and had "a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God."
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. 1 Nephi 1:1
Nephi wrote in "the language of his father" -- Egyptian, which is a strange language for a an Israelite of 600 BCE to write in. But, then, we must get used to strange things if we are to read the Book of Mormon.
Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. 1 Nephi 1:2
Nephi tells us that everything he's writing is complete bullshit.
Just kidding. It's all true because Nephi says it is. And if you can't believe a pompous, Egyptian-speaking Hebrew that supposedly lived 2600 years ago, who can you believe?
And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge. 1 Nephi 1:3
Next, something comes to pass.
For it came to pass.... 1 Nephi 1:4a
This is the first of the 1297 times (that I've counted, anyway) that something comes to pass in the Book of Mormon. It's one of the things you notice as soon as you start reading the book.
Here's what Mark Twain said about it:
The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James's translation of the Scriptures; ... Whenever he found his speech growing too modern--which was about every sentence or two--he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as "exceeding sore," "and it came to pass," etc., and made things satisfactory again. "And it came to pass" was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet. Roughing It, Chapter 16
What came to pass, though, came to pass in the commencement (BoM-speak for beginning) of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. There was a whole lot of prophesying going on.
For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed. 1 Nephi 1:4
A couple more things come to pass and then Nephi's dad (Lehi) saw a pillar of fire on a rock that made him "quake and tremble exceedingly."
Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people. And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly. 1 Nephi 1:5-6
After Lehi saw the burning pillar on a rock, "he thought he saw" God, lots of angels, Jesus, and the 12 apostles -- which is a strange sight for a Jew that lived 600 years before Jesus was born. (Though, as you'll see if you continue reading, strange sights are common in the BoM.)
And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen. And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God. And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day. And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament. 1 Nephi 1:7-10
Then God, Jesus, the apostles, and the host of angels came down from heaven to earth and God gave Lehi a book to read.
And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read. 1 Nephi 1:11
So Lehi read from the book, was filled with the Spirit of the Lord, and said stuff like, "Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations!" and "Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!" (Which means, I guess, that he was reading from the book of Revelation, which wouldn't be written for another 700 years of so.)
And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem -- that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon. And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth, and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish! And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him. 1 Nephi 1:12-15
Now Nephi tells us that he's not going to tell us all of the shit his dad said, wrote, and did while under the influence of the Spirit. Which is a good thing. I couldn't take much more of that.
And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account. 1 Nephi 1:16
He's (thankfully) going to just give us the abridged version of his father's babblings, which was probably a good idea since he was writing this stuff down on brass plates.
But I shall make an account of my proceedings in my days. Behold, I make an abridgment of the record of my father, upon plates which I have made with mine own hands; wherefore, after I have abridged the record of my father then will I make an account of mine own life. 1 Nephi 1:17
After Lehi saw the pillar of fire, God, Jesus, the apostles, and angels, and read from the book that God gave him, he went into town to tell the people about his day.
Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard. 1 Nephi 1:18
They all thought he was crazy, since they were a bunch of wicked, abominable Jews.
And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of the Messiah, and also the redemption of the world. And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance. 1 Nephi 1:19-20
And that's all that came to pass in chapter 1.