M* Book Club: An Approach to the BoM, ch 20

Chapter 20: Lehi’s Dream

In this chapter, Hugh Nibley discusses Lehi’s Dream (1 Nephi 8-10).  He  begins by noting that our dreams are usually based upon things we are familiar with.  So, when Joseph Smith Sr had a dream of being in a lone and dreary wilderness, it was a forest.  For Lehi, the dream had an Arab desert motif.

This is perhaps a strong evidence of the Book of Mormon.  If Joseph were making it up, would he know in detail events that occur in the desert half a world away?  Would he know of the importance of the oasis in the middle of the desert, wandering in the mists or sand storms, of dangerous dry wadis that suddenly become torrents of raging waters, or the tall buildings of the cities that seem to rise up out of the ground as you approach it?  Would he have known the tensions between the city and desert peoples, as contrasted by those eating the fruit of the tree and the mockers in the great and spacious building?

As a priesthood manual, Nibley showed many interesting concepts regarding the BoM that tied it to the Arabian desert of 600 BC.  Unfortunately, in this book we do not get a spiritual discussion of Lehi’s dream.  Elsewhere, others note it as an endowment, and discuss the temple symbolism found in it. This is perhaps the one big weakness in this manual. But it was written to provide intellectual information, and less of a spiritual journey – which is what we get in Lehi’s dream and the temple.


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