2 Nephi 4:1-2 — LeGrand Baker — Joseph in Egypt
Sometimes I suspect that the best kept secret in the church is the academic value of the latter-day scriptures. That observation is not intended to be a criticism of members of the church, just as the following is not intended to be a criticism of scholars of other faiths. The following is only an example of how much Mormons can know which other people cannot know. The example begins with Psalm 105, which is a review of Israelite history.
17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
18 Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
19 Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
20 The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.
21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:
22 To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom (Psalm 105:17-22).
In commenting on those verses, Svend Holm-Nielsen wrote,
The description of Joseph’s release and his promotion in vv. 20-22 resembles that of the Joseph narrative in Genesis. The idea of Joseph as the instructor of Pharaoh’s elders and the teacher of wisdom seems to be a rather exaggerated interpretation of Gen. 41:37- 40, maybe inspired by the views on the heathen world as an underdeveloped world in relation to Israel,… (“The Exodus Traditions in Psalm 105″, Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute, vol. 11, p 25)
Notice how different that analysis is from Nephi’s,
1 And now, I, Nephi, speak concerning the prophecies of which my father hath spoken, concerning Joseph, who was carried into Egypt.
2 For behold, he truly prophesied concerning all his seed. And the prophecies which he wrote, there are not many greater. And he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; and they are written upon the plates of brass (2 Nephi 4:1-2).
It is not that Holm-Nielsen is not a good scholar; it is only that he probably hasn’t read the Book of Mormon and does not know its value as an historical record.
My point is this. In our world there is a prevailing notion that any idea which in not “test-tube- demonstrable” must not be taken too seriously. That notion, in some contexts, is the stimulus which invites experimentation, study, and the continued search for knowledge. But in other contexts, it is the opiate which virtually cripples many fine, intelligent, and otherwise capable young minds. How priceless, then, is one’s knowing that the Book of Mormon is a trustworthy statement of historical and doctrinal truth. Such a knowledge gives one academic and spiritual stability which the otherwise learned might envy or reject with contempt, and which their university education might appear to approximate, but can never duplicate.