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Why is there a wordplay on the name “Nephi”?

In 1 Nephi 1:1 we read:

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.

Matthew L. Bowen comments on this scripture:

The first of these “good” terms is Nephi’s own name. As I have noted elsewhere, this suggests deliberate autobiographical wordplay on — or play on the meaning of — Nephi’s name. The wordplay suggests that Nephi’s name (nfr > nfi = “good,” “goodly,” “fine,” “fair”) is appropriate because of the “goodly” quality of the parenting that he received: he “was taught somewhat in all the learning of [his] father.” While that education included at least something of the “knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God” — Lehi himself had a testimony of God’s “goodness”

Matthew L. Bowen  – Nephi’s Good Inclusio

Did Joseph Smith take the time to include this wordplay in the very first verse of the Book of Mormon?


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