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What experience would Joseph Smith have had with “prophetic lawsuits”?

John W. Welch explains prophetic lawsuits as follows:

In the study of the Old Testament, form-critical scholars have defined and identified instances of several forms or genres of prophetic speech involving oracles, threats, reproaches, accusations, messenger formulas, and salvation speeches; judgment speeches to Israel, individuals, or other nations; the cry of woe, the legal procedure, the disputation, the parable, the lament, or the prophetic torah. One of these speech forms is generally known to scholars as the “prophetic lawsuit,” sometimes referred to as the “judgment speech,” the “covenant lawsuit,” or the “trial speech.”

John W. Welch – Benjamin’s Speech as a Prophetic Lawsuit

Prophetic lawsuits found in the Bible typically contain four elements:

  1. the calling of witnesses
  2. the lodging of an accusation
  3. the consideration of a defense
  4. the issuance of a judgment

John W. Welch notes how the Book of Mormon also contains examples of prophetic lawsuits from King Benjamin and Samuel the Lamanite including words and phrases such as:

How would Joseph Smith know about prophetic lawsuits or know how to create them?


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