Add a question Add

Why would Joseph Smith, a patriotic American, frame the American revolution in the Book of Mormon as a story of deliverance rather than of resistance?

In 1 Nephi 13:17-19 we read Nephi’s account of the American revolution:

And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.

And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.

And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.

Of this scripture, Richard Bushman writes:

By American standards, this is a strangely distorted account. There is no indictment of the king or parliament, no talk of American rights or liberty, nothing of the corruptions of the ministry, and most significant, no despots or heroes. In fact, there is no reference to American resistance. The “mother gentiles” are the only warriors. God, not General Washington or the American army, delivers the colonies.

The meaning of the narrative opens itself to the reader only after he lays aside his American preconceptions about the Revolution and recognizes that the dramatic structure in Nephi’s account is fundamentally different from the familiar one in Independence Day orations. The point of the narrative is that Americans escaped from captivity. They did not resist, they fled. The British were defeated because the wrath of God was upon them. The virtue of the Americans was that “they did humble themselves before the Lord” (1 Nephi 13:16). The moral is that “the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.” The theme is deliverance, not resistance.

Bushman, “The Book of Mormon and the American Revolution

If Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself, wouldn’t we expect him to describe the American Revolution (which only happened around 50 years previously) more aligned with the political environment he found himself in?

Bushman concludes:

The Book of Mormon is not a conventional American book. Too much Americana is missing. Understanding the work requires a more complex and sensitive analysis than has been afforded it. Historians will take a long step forward when they free themselves from the compulsion to connect all they find with Joseph Smith’s America and try instead to understand the ancient patterns deep in the grain of the book.

Bushman, “The Book of Mormon and the American Revolution

Why didn’t Joseph write the Book of Mormon like a patriotic American? 

See:

Add
Add a Question
Submit
Thank you for your submission