“Goodly Parents” Revisited

Next Sunday we start our study of the BoM in earnest with a lesson on 1 Nephi 1-7. As you know, the text begins with these words: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father….” Clearly there is a causal relationship between Nephi’s parents being “goodly” and the education he received. The late Marc Schindler had a theory to the effect that “goodly” here does not mean simply “good” (perhaps with the connotation “righteous”), as it is usually taken, but rather something like “possessed of goods,” and therefore “affluent,” suggesting that Nephi received an education because his parents were materially well off and could afford to educate him.

This question has been tossed around on the Bloggernacle before (see here and here). These previous posts accepted the notion that “goodly” refers to wealth. I personally thought it was an intriguing idea, but so far I have taken an agnostic stance. To work, I think we need some sort of evidence for “goodly” bearing the meaning “possessed of goods.” That sounds to me like a possible meaning of the word in Jacobean idiom, but I would like to see some sort of actual evidence to that effect. My hope in this blog post is to settle this question once and for all.

The OED provides the following definitions of “goodly” as an adjective:

1. Of good appearance, good looking; well favoured or proportioned; comely, fair, handsome.

2. Notable or considerable in respect of size, quantity, or number (frequently with mixture of sense 1).

3. Of good quality, admirable, splendid, excellent. Also, well suited for some purpose, proper, convenient (often with implication of sense 1).

4. Gracious, kind, kindly disposed.

The 1828 Webster’s has “pleasant; agreeable; desirable; as goodly days.”

Lexically, therefore, there does not seem to be any support for “goodly” meaning “possessed of goods.” This hasn’t been sufficient in and of itself to dissuade anyone. So what I propose to do is examine the usage of the term in the King James Bible as well as in Joseph’s scriptural productions. “Goodly” appears 29 times in the KJV OT, 4 in the KJV NT, 4 in the D&C, and 1 other place in the BoM. In my view, for it to be reasonable for us to take “goodly” as meaning in effect “wealthy,” there ought to be some indication of such an attested usage somewhere in these 38 scriptural occurrences. The KJV usages are particularly telling, because we can use the underlying Hebrew and Greek as a control as to the intended usage of the KJ translators. So, without further ado, on to the scriptural usage evidence:

1. Gen. 27:15. And Rebekah took goodly raiment. HEB chemdah, that which is desired, pleasant, excellent.

2. Gen. 39:6. Joseph was [a] goodly [person], and well favoured. HEB toar, beautiful (in form).

3. Gen. 49:21. he giveth goodly words. HEB shepher, beauty, elegance (of words).

4. Exod. 2:2. she saw him that he [was a] goodly [child]. HEB tob, good (in various senses: fair, beautiful).

5. Exod. 39:28. goodly bonnets. HEB p’er, an ornament, tiara, turban.

6. Lev. 23:40. the boughs of goodly trees. HEB hadar, ornament (IE “ornamental trees”).

7. Num. 24:5. How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob. HEB tob, good in various senses (beautiful, pleasant).

8. Num. 31:10. all their goodly castles. HEB tirah, a fortress, enclosure.

9. Dt. 3:25. that goodly mountain. HEB tob, good in various senses.

10. Dt. 6:10. to give thee great and goodly cities. HEB tob, good in various senses.

11. Dt. 8:12. hast built goodly houses. HEB tob, good in various senses.

12. Joshua 7:21. a goodly Babylonish garmnet. HEB tob, good in various senses (fair, beautiful).

13. 1 Sam. 9:2. Saul, a choice young man and a goodly. HEB tob, good in various senses.

14. 1 Sam. 16:12. of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. HEB tob, good in various senses.

15. 2 Sam. 23:21. an Egyptian, a goodly man. HEB mar’eh, form, appearance.

16. 1 Ki. 1:6. and he also [was a] very goodly man. HEB tob, good in various senses.

17. 2 Chron. 36:10. with the goodly vessels. HEB chemdah, that which is desired, pleasant.

18. 2 Chron. 36:19. all the goodly vessels. HEB machmad, object of desire, grace, beauty, something precious.

19. Job 39:13. gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks. HEB nenanim, meaning uncertain (something having to do with the sound of the wings).

20. Ps. 16:6. I have a goodly heritage. HEB shaphar, pleasing.

21. Ps. 80:10. the goodly cedars. HEB ‘el, mighty (lit. god-like).

22. Jer. 3:19. a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations. HEB tsebi, splendor, glory (IE beautiful).

23. Jer. 11:16. a green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit. HEB tuar, a beautiful form, IE beautiful.

24. Ezek. 17:8. that it might be a goodly vine. HEB ‘addereth, wide, ample, thus magnificent, splendid.

25. Ezek. 17:23. and be a goodly cedar. HEB ‘addir, large, great, mighty, powerful, magnificent.

26. Hosea 10:1. they have made goodly images. HEB tob, good in various senses.

27. Joel 3:5. my goodly pleasant things. HEB tob, good in various senses.

28. Zech. 10:3. as his goodly horse in the battle. HEB hod, splendor, freshness, beauty, and thus majestic.

29. Zech. 11:13. a goodly price that I was prised as of them. HEB ‘eder, magnificence, thus “magnificence of price” (said ironically).

30. Mt. 13:45. goodly pearls. GR kalos, beautiful, pleasing in form.

31. Lk. 21:5. adorned with goodly stones. GR kalos, beautiful, pleasing in form.

32. James 2:2. goodly apparel. GR lampros, shining, brilliant, and thus splendid, magnificent.

33. Rev. 18:14. all things which were dainty and goodly. GR lampros, shining, brilliant, and thus splendid, magnificent.

34. Mosiah 18:7. there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon.

35. D&C 99:7. thou mayest go up also to the goodly land, to possess thine inheritance. [Note that in HEB, tob when used of land has the connotation “fertile.”]

36. D&C 97:9. planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream. [Note that in HEB, tob when used of land has the connotation “fertile.”]

37. D&C 103:20. possess the goodly land. [Note that in HEB, tob when used of land has the connotation “fertile.”]

38. D&C 103:24. to drive you from my goodly land. [Note that in HEB, tob when used of land has the connotation “fertile.”]

Given the above evidence, I don’t see any scriptural usage of the word “goodly” that would suggest the meaning “wealthy” in 1 Ne. 1:1. I therefore am renouncing my prior agnosticism on this issue and accepting the traditional reading of goodly as simply meaning “good” in some sense.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    I should also note that “goodly” is in all texts of 1 Ne. 1:1, so there is no textual issue here, and therefore Royal Skousen has no comment on the meaning of the word in his textual commentary.

  2. Yeah, but does it make any more sense to suppose that Nephi was telling us that he was born of good-looking, fertile parents??

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    No, which is why I think he was using “goodly” here as a faux-archaism, to mean simply “good.”

  4. And when did you ever need to be wealthy to be taught what your father knew? That’s a relative statement–a poor man would learn what (trade) his poor father knew.

    Is there a good reason I remembered the “wealthy” entomology coming from Nibley? Was I making that up?

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Owen, Nibley sort of went there, although not all the way. If you follow the links to the prior blog discussion, you’ll fine it.

  6. The problem is twofold. First, surviving written language will always be a subset of complete usage. Absence of other examples doesn’t preclude a given meaning, but neither can it be firmly established with only one claimed attestation. That leaves us neither here nor there. Second, and more importantly, immediate context carries much more weight than usage elsewhere or lexicons, which are, after all, based on attested usage. If we found an inscription (and let’s assume there was no question of authenticity) which used a word in a new or unusual way, context would determine the meaning, and broaden our understanding of how it was used, the attestation would be added to the lexicons for the next reprint.

    It doesn’t seem a good hermeneutic principle to limit significance to that which has already been known or discovered, that there can be no meaning except that which has already been discovered.

    This comes into play with archeological as well as textual interpretation. For example, Amihai Mazar argues with Michael Coogan over the function of the so-called “Bull Site.” Coogan [or at least, Hershal Shanks summarizing Coogan in BAR] argued that what was found must fit within what has already been find. Mazar argued back, “As for Coogan’s fourth criterion, “parallels,” if we expect to find parallels to every new archaeological feature, we probably will never be able to advance our research in this field of study.”

    Nice pulling together of the lexical lack of evidence. It’s good to have in one place.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    If “wealthy” worked significantly better than “good” in the immediate context, it might be worth considering that that was a distinctive usage in that one place. But I think either meaning could work here. So why should we accept “wealthy”? Why not say that goodly in this instance means “intelligent,” and that Nephi was educated because he was born of intelligent parents who valued education? There’s as much evidence for intelligent as wealthy, which is to say, zero.

  8. Kevin, thanks for this discussion. Nicely done.

  9. I’ll concede “intelligence” as a possibility, though you can at least make a hypothetical argument for semantic shift with goodly>multiplicity/size (“goodly crowd” in Alma)>wealth. Coming up with one for “intelligence” is much more difficult.
    The sina qua non for getting an education involving literacy in multiple languages and scripts was money.
    The first several verses function as an explanation of how Nephi can do what he does without a scribe like Baruch. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to suggest that Nephi was a scribe, but I don’t know how likely it is he would have learned such literary skills and depth from at-home absorption, unless Lehi also was a scribe.

  10. In other words, I think “valuing education” is a bit culturally anachronistic. It’s not like you could simply sign up for community college if your parents encouraged you. It’s not goodness that gets you literary in Israel, but the time and context to study, access to texts which only comes with money.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    I can certainly see the need for money for a scribal type of education. But is that what the text is alluding to, I wonder, when it says that Nephi was taught somewhat in all the learning of his father? Unless Lehi were a scribe, that doesn’t seem to be the particular point Nephi is making here, even if it is otherwise true.

    Two further points:

    1. Later in the verse, Nephi refers to the goodness of God. I wonder whether that might be a verbal echo of “goodly”?

    2. Some scholars have suggested that Nephi’s name is derived from Egyptian nfr, which means “good,” and that perhaps there is a wordplay on his name involved in the use of “goodly” here. I don’t know that I buy that, but we might as well get it on the table along with everything else.

  12. Out of curiosity, how has the phrase “goodly parents” been translated into other languages in the BoM? Is it even a question in the Spanish or Chinese versions on what “goodly” may refer to?

  13. In german, we get:

    Ich, Nephi, stamme von guten Eltern, und darum ist mir von allem Wissen meines Vaters etwas
    beigebracht worden.

    This follows the goodly equals simply good thinking.

  14. Nephi was the coddled, favored child of his parents, so obviously he is going to reaffirm his parents status in positive terms to further justify his blatant “in-the-box” way of being towards his brothers…

    Great stuff though, Kevin.

  15. You might add the 1828 webster’s definition from http://www.1828-dictionary.com/d/search/word,goodly:

    GOOD’LY, adv. Excellently.

    GOOD’LY, a. Being of a handsome form; beautiful; graceful; as a goodly person; goodly raiment; goodly houses.

    1. Pleasant; agreeable; desirable; as goodly days.

    2. Bulky; swelling; affectedly turgid.

    Although the apparent meanings of some words in the Book of Mormon seem to diverge from the norm of both King James English and 1820’s vernacular..

    Perhaps some of us have been overly zealous in reading far more into the text of the Book of Mormon than we fairly ought to. We use the “therefore” in 1 Ne. 1:1 to connect “goodly” to being “taught somewhat”, and then somehow think Nephi is being modest concerning his education, pointing to the “gold, silver, and precious things” that are “exceedingly great” (1 Ne. 3:25) to indicate that Nephi’s parents must have been wealthy, therefore must have afforded a great education for themselves and their children, including erudition in Jewish lore and Egyptian hieroglyphics (and, if you follow Nibley et alii down the rabbit hole, an expansive milieu of philosophical schools of thought from across the ancient world). Further speculation leads many to believe that Lehi must have been a merchant of sorts, in order to explain his (speculated) wealth and especially make plausible the host of supposed ‘parallels’ between his philosophies (esp. that of 2 Ne. 2) and those scattered across time and space in the ancient world.

    What happens if instead we emphasize the “somewhat” in 1 Ne. 1:1, and the “exceedingly young” in 1 Ne. 2:16? Can’t we just as fairly suppose that Nephi must have been too young to have been formally educated too much before their flight into the wilderness? Then we might speculate that Lehi took pains to educate Nephi (and Jacob and Joseph) in the wilderness. After all, why waste those 8 arduous years in the wilderness (1 Ne. 17:4)? Plus, the early Nephi was more of a visionary than a hands-on, read-the-plates-to-find-my-answers kind of guy. This reading also gives us explanatory power as to why Nephi would have his father inquire of the Lord as to where to get food in the wilderness — at that time maybe only he could read the writing on “the ball” which seems to be how instructions were given by the Lord (1 Ne. 16:23-30). It also may help explain how Jacob became literate in the same ways Nephi was. Nephi also indicates that they couldn’t preserve the language of their fathers without the plates (1 Ne. 3:19). Strange comment if he had any inkling that he could later become a writer and thus preserve their language himself.

    Sure, Nephi took a wife (1 Ne. 16:7) at that age, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was barely a teenager or younger. I mean, people speculate that Mary was 12-14 when she married Joseph… and what with the flight in the wilderness, circumstances might have called for early pairing off. Some young folk look like adults, and apparently Nephi was one of them.

    Also, consider that “gold, silver, and precious things” is formulaic to symbolize worldly possessions across the Nephite records. If Nephi was as young as he indicates, then perhaps he unconsciously exaggerates when he recalls the “exceedingly great” property that Laban lusted after. Certainly, my perspectives when I was younger were filled with more hyperbole than they are today. This reading, to me, also helps me justify Nephi’s tiring of writing his own words and resorting to Isaiah, and also his treatment of himself and his brothers in his writings.

    Some food for thought… for those of us, at least, not entirely enraptured by Hugh Nibley’s rhetoric.

  16. #13 Janell:

    In Chinese, in both the original 1965 translation and the new 2007 translation, we have: “良好的父母” (lianghao de fumu). Lianghao, from my dictionary, means “good, favorable, well, fine.” Fumu is, of course, parents (or literally “father mother”).

    So, yeah, in Chinese it’s pretty clear.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 13, I previously commented on how “goodly” was translated into the Hebrew translations of the BoM:

    goodly. I was curious how these translations would deal with the relatively recent modern debate over the meaning of the word “goodly,” as to whether it is a faux archaism for “good” or an actual archaism for something like “possessed of goods”; i.e., “affluent.” This has been discussed a number of times on the Nacle; see for instance here. (Personally, I am open minded but agnostic on the issue. My working assumption is that it means “good,” but I am open to the other reading. I just don’t think it has been demonstrated yet.) The two modern translations both rendered “good.” Miller evaded the issue by inserting his own nuance with nikbadim “honored,” and Shunary just followed Miller and used the same word. It’s tough to translate an English word when you’re not even sure what it is supposed to mean.

    For the full post, see here: https://bycommonconsent.com/2008/03/01/i-nephi-having-been-born-of-goodly-parents/

  18. Trying to pull all the uses together it sems like goodly is often used to describe soemthing or someone who desirable or praiseworthy in a righteous sense.

  19. Nice work, Kevin. As I see it, the presence of the term in 4 D&C verses shows that it was in Joseph’s vocabulary, which explains its appearance in the Book of Mormon as well as providing the best context for determining its usage there. The frequent use of the term in the KJV explains why it is part of Joseph’s vocabulary. I like the faux-archaism explanation in some cases, but I don’t think it is needed here.

  20. Thanks all for satisfying my curiosity. Of course even BoM translations extend to “as far as it’s translated correctly,” but it’s nice to know what the standard rational is.

    #20 – Excellent point. Perhaps we don’t give enough credit to Joseph Smith’s own manner of speech and understanding enough credit for its influence in the translation.

  21. Peter LLC says:

    In German, we get: Ich, Nephi, stamme von guten Eltern

    True, but keep in mind that “gut” and its derivations in German has the same problem as “good” in English, i.e., the connotation of possessions schwingt auch mit, as it were. Consider what it means to be “aus gutem Hause” for example.

  22. I appreciate the effort to see what the logical possibilities are, but, in this case, I like what I see as the simplest meaning:

    “My dad and mom were good parents, so my dad taught me as much as he could (somewhat) about as many things as he could.”

    Iow, “Good parents teach their children.”

    That message seems to be a central theme of the Book of Mormon, so I stick with it as the meaning in the opening verse.

    I think it also was a direct reference to the statement in the next verse that says Nephi was able to write his record according to the learning of the Jews but in the language of the Egyptians. Those things would be part of “all the learning of my father”.

    I know there’s nothing profound or new in any of that, but this is one case where I think the easiest answer is the best answer.

  23. Thanks, Ray (no. 23)…

  24. A goodly post Kevin. (And by that I mean one that is full of worldly wealth.)

  25. Personally, I think Lehi was a chick magnet, and Sariah was one great looking babe.

    It’s possible that the Jewish men wanted to stone Lehi for his being “goodly” around their wives. And I suppose that Sariah was popular during the high festivals, I suppose.

    Laman and Lemuel were angry leaving Jerusalem, because they were just entering into the prime of their own “goodliness.”

  26. thanks for pulling all of the Hebrew words and definitions…that is interesting. IMO I didn’t really see a righteousness connection to goodly, or a wealth conection..but a more fulfilling their role well idea. possibly in some sort of outward manner. I don’t find goodly fabrics or faces all that deep…but having mended, I appreciate good fabric.

    I’ve wondered if the somewhat was Out of respect to his father…or as some have mentioned, a reference to an education interrupted.

  27. another interesting thought…we seldom question whether Lehi was goodly…sure he murmured when he was starving. His wife has the more challenging expression of concern for her sons…or emotional lack of faith depending. Perhaps Nephi starts the book by introducing his parents well because the majority of the book is about the drama between their children. when your sons beat your other sons, or tie him to the mast…it could reflect negatively on your parenting. when your older SOS hold a grudge against a younger son SO deeply that it lasts generations and causes multiple wars…. Perhaps the goodly parents is a reminder to separate what the parents do and what the children do when we attempt to make out the character of the parents.

  28. Google Books gives two unique, non-Mormon refs through 1840 for “goodly parents.” There were also some hits for “goodly mother” but none for “goodly father.”

    In a comment on 1 Kings, Ch 8: “Note, Children should learn of their goodly parents how to pray, and plead, in prayer.”
    Ellen was chaste as new-fall’n snow,
    And modest in her air;
    Unlike some lasses, common known
    As is a Barber’s chair.

    Of goodly parents she was born,
    But in disguise did rove,
    Because a Youth to her was false—
    She left her vale for love.
    (Of the poem, contemporary critics said: “…is of the most contemptible contrivance, and has no the smallest portion of wit, humour, or ingenuity to recommend it.” “To wit, humour, or sentiment, it has not the smallest pretension. It is, indeed, fit only for the meridian of a brothel.”)

    Matthew Henry, George Burder, Joseph Hughes, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament …, Vol 2, p 494.

    Peter Pindar [aka John Wolcot (1738-1819)], “Orson and Ellen,” in Tears and Smiles, A Miscellaneous Collection of Poems (1801), reprinted in The Works of Peter Pindar, Esq., Vol 4 (London, 1806), p 246 [241-277]. The British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review, Vol 18 (p 424). The Poetical Register, and Repository of Fugitive Poetry for 1801, 2nd ed (1802), p 429

  29. This may or may not be helpful, but I think it’s interesting:

    Longfellow published a poem, “Evangeline” in 1847, and used the word “goodly”:

    “Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas,
    Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pre,
    Dwelt on his goodly acres…”

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    Edje, great find! That attested usage supports the goodly = good theory.

    Spout, that usage parallels the D&C usage of “goodly land.”

  31. Actually, I think Jacob’s suggestion has interesting possibilities; perhaps everything Nephi knew, he learned from Lehi after they left. That does put the question back to, what was Lehi’s profession, that he had these literary skills to handle Isaiah and Egyptian?

  32. “Goodly acres” could well be read “many acres.” –AGF

  33. I see no one has brought in the parallel Mos 1:4:

    “For it were [sic] not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.”

    And verse 2:
    “And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers…”

    So that the “Small Plates” and the “Large Plates” begin with the same thesis, that the prophet/scribes must be literate, and it is implied that this requires that one be well born (“eugenic”). That JS fully appreciated this thesis is obvious from the fact that he, like Jeremiah and the king (as well as Mohammed), needed a scribe, precisely because he was born poor.

    Ne 1:1-2 encapsulates then the train of logic: well born > learning > language, including the Egyptian script (or parole??), so that the greater context, including Mos 1, certainly favors a reading of “wealthy” for “goodly.” Nephi apologizes for the exceptional circumstance that he is literate, and explains that his story is worth telling, even at the expense of gold plates. –AGF

  34. Of course, your Mosiah scripture could be used as further evidence that Nephi indeed had been taught by his father, and thus they did not necessarily have a wealthy upbringing. Also, the “Large Plates” did not begin with that thesis… Mosiah 1 is apparently the 3rd chapter of the original Mosiah, the content of the large plates I believe extending back to the time of Lehi, or at the very least Nephi.

    Speaking of Mosiah, does anyone know how Alma got his authority? He was one of Noah’s priests, and it says in Mosiah 11:5 that all of the former priests had been removed from their office. When I combine that with passages like Alma 17:3 in the 1830 edition, where it says, “…they taught with power and authority, even as with the power and authority of God”, it strikes me that Priesthood may not have been understood in the same way back then…

  35. Also, consider Mosiah 8:13, where Ammon is certain that king Mosiah is able to translate “all records that are of ancient date”, having special interpreters. We could infer that perhaps Lehi “having been taught” Egyptian happened by way of the Lord via interpreters, and thus he was able to pass down what he learned to his children. Also consider Mosiah 28:20 — the interpreters tended to be down handed along with the records. This is at least as plausible as the idea that Lehi was wealthy.

    Also, it makes it interesting that the use of interpreters are barely mentioned, as also the process of reading ancient records was a somewhat guarded affair in our time as well.

  36. There can be no question that Lehi was wealthy: (1Ne 3:25) “And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.” And Laban was obviously a wealthy man himself, if “he [could] command fifty.”

    True, I should have said the Plates of Mormon begin with the premise of 1Ne 1:1 after returning to the redaction of the Large Plates. I was not aware of the claim that our Mosiah 1 was originally chapter 3. What’s the evidence for this?

    There is no report of Lehi possessing any interpreters, and the fact that Mosiah has them rather than Limhi is a puzzlement, seeing as Ether “sealed them up” with the plates that Limhi’s expedition found. Moreover Lehi has no problem reading the brass plates at first sight–no mention of miraculous aid.

    So again, Jeremiah and the king are illiterate, but Lehi and Nephi were not. And it was understood anciently that children are more apt pupils of letters than adults, so we would expect Nephi to have learned letters at an early age, not in the desert. While riches did not guarantee literacy, they made it possible.

    We have no indication of how Alma was authorized to baptize other than Mos 18:12, which depicts a spontaneous dispensation. This dispensation, moreover, was accepted by King Mosiah who authorized Alma to establish churches everywhere. And this scenario is reported by David Whitmer and others to have been the accepted pattern in the early years of the church.

    That “priesthood” was understood differently in ancient times is beyond doubt. If you could have asked Peter if he was a priest or held any priesthood according to the etymological and historical derivation of the modern term (“priest” derives from Greek for “elder” [“presbyteros,” = “mature man”] but translates Greek “hiereus” and Hebrew “cohen), he would have replied, of course not, I’m not even a Levite. That is, the biblical priesthood was hereditary, and non-Levites and eventually not-Aaronides were excluded. But of course you are probably referring to the notion that our priesthood derives through an angelic genealogy, but this notion too is foreign to the theology depicted in restoration of the “high priesthood” as transpired at the June 9, 1831 conference. There the pattern is precisely as at Mos 8:12.

  37. Mos 18:12.

  38. Interesting post. Thanks Kevin. I was reading Joseph’s 1832 history today and I came across this:

    I was born in the town of Charon [Sharon] in the of Vermont North America on the twenty third day of December A D 1805 of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instruct me in christian religion at the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Siegnior moved to Palmyra Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine children and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructed in reading and writing and the ground of Arithmatic which constuted my whole literary acquirements.

    The usage here would suggest that goodly does not imply wealthy or the opportunity to obtain an
    extensive education.

  39. It looks like not all of the formatting came through, showing Jessee’s editorial marks, but the important part is there: “goodly parents.” Has anyone compared the 1832 history’s usage with 1 Nephi?

  40. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks, David. At one point I think I knew that the 1832 account had the goodly parents, but I obviously had forgotten.

    One possibility is that Joseph borrowed the 1832 usage from the BoM, and that he had misunderstood that usage.

    But I think the more parsimonious reading is that the BoM reflects Joseph’s usage, which did not equate goodly with wealthy.

    Great addition to the discussion!

  41. I concede. I was going to add: 1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord…

    But the 1832 usage easily trumps that. The only way to salvage my argument is to suggest that JS was being generous to his upbringing–consciously equating his own to Nephi’s so as not to denigrate his heritage. But this seems a bit desperate. Thanks. –AGF

  42. I’m going to add that to my glossary. If David G wants credit, he needs to reveal his last name. –AGF

  43. Otherwise I authorize the site admin to to provide him my email address.

  44. A G, I hope this link satisfies your question: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html.

    Otherwise, I can dig references out of a few books, but they all follow from the critical text project. Thank you for your explanation of priesthood differences.

    Per the above discussion, I will continue to maintain that Lehi was not necessarily wealthy, and to me Nephi was pretty unlettered. Arguments in support of Abraham not being the actual physical author of the Book of Abraham might even be applied to Nephi’s authorship. In the Abraham intro, the record purports to be written by the hand of Abraham, but it has been argued by those of Nibley’s ilk that it can mean that Abraham commissioned someone to write for him. 1 Nephi 1:3, 6:1, etc, might be explained this way. Then the peculiar language of certain parts might have better explanation:

    1 Nephi 9:1-2 (and elsewhere) first mentions about things that can’t be written on the plates, and then Nephi says, “And now, as I have SPOKEN concerning these plates…”. Note the language in 9:3, “there should be an account engraven” rather than “I should engrave an account”. 2 Nephi 11:1, “these things have I caused to be written”, rather than “these things have I written” (even though in verse 2 it says, “I, Nephi, write more”, that can be explained in the same way as the BoA. To say that you wrote, or even that you wrote with your own hand, doesn’t necessarily mean you physically did it. Then again, he might have done 2 Nephi 11ff himself, given most of it was copying, or in other words, didn’t require as much effort).

    It is enough for me to say he was a blacksmith / shipbuilder / architect / hunter / warrior / ruler / visionary / prophet without assuming he also had time to be a great man of letters as well. And maybe what little work he was acquainted with before they left Jerusalem had more to do with blacksmithing than with merchanting. It could better explain his fascination with Laban’s sword, his own great strength, his apparent familiarity with creating tools and manipulating ores and bellows in Bountiful (the first), and his continuing metallurgical forays in the promised land.

    Furthermore, if Lehi (and thus Nephi and perhaps Jacob) was as rich or educated as some people seem to assume, I would be more surprised at the tone of the statements of Jacob in 2 Nephi 9:28-30 about riches and learning. I also would be more surprised at Jacob’s method of defeating Sherem, relying on testimony and especially the blanketing argument in Jacob 7:11 rather than proving Sherem wrong by opening up the scriptures. Likewise, the weak dialectic in most of the philosophical portions, like 2 Ne. 11:7. All this being my opinion, of course, but it seems as valid as any other explanations I’ve seen.

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