Monday, December 29, 2008

The Psalms and the Book of Mormon

I have been reading through the Psalms for some time now, and it is fascinating, and entirely reasonable, that a careful reading of them turns up many similarities to the early chapters of the Book of Mormon. They are of the same milieu, after all.

Last night, I noticed something in Psalms 118.

Some translations (including, very disappointingly, the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh [aka the Hebrew Bible]) obscure the idiom that the King James Version preserves.

Namely, the psalmist writes:

"I called on the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me and set me in a large place."

The original word is rechab, which translates as broad or large.

Out of the confines of difficulty, the Lord brings the penitent into the open spaces of freedom. One familiar with the desert thinks easily of its narrow and dangerous canyons, difficult in many cases to escape.

And the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi reports in his vision a strikingly similar scene (1 Nephi 8:8-9):

"And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me ... And it came to pass that after I had prayed unto the Lord, I beheld a large and spacious field ..."


Bishop Rick said...

Couldn't this also be evidence of plagiarism?

Clifford said...

Bishop Rick:

No, I don't think so. They are similar concepts but not an obvious borrowing of words.