Millenial Model?

If it is appropriate to take the events and calamities leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ in the Book of Mormon as a model for the period prior to the second coming, is it then appropriate to take the events of 3rd Nephi 11-4th Nephi 1:18 as a model for the millenium?

21 Replies to “Millenial Model?”

  1. John,

    I do that myself but with caution. I think the church is now in the latter part of the book of Helaman (around 13-15 or so), and sure, if we’re going strict dispensationalist (99.99999999999% is dispensationalist) then 3 Nephi 11ff is a great model for how it will run once the millenium kicks in, if it hasn’t already.

  2. Are we talking about a typological reading? What is it about that text that makes folks think it should / could be read that way?

    And if we do read it that way, what, exactly, do we gain?

    Why do folks think that the BoM teaches a millenium?

    As far as I can tell, there’s no mention of a 1,000 year period — sounds more like a messianic age (or two) to me.

  3. Geoff,
    If the end is scripted, and the end is that everyone lives with Christ, does it matter that the details are different?

    The suggestion that we read the pre-Christ’s coming passages this way comes from President Benson. You’re right, there is no millenium in the Book of Mormon. I was just suggesting that if it is appropriate to read the build-up in this way, it may be appropriate to read the resolution similarly (in both cases, relying on modern synthetic approaches to find meaning).

    Regarding what we gain, I think it bears on the determinism/free agency issue that I am trying to resolve with Geoff. (Geoff’s responses thusfar have convinced me that he is in secret agreement with me about everything and is denying it for the drama (of course, I already believed this, so…)).

  4. Backing up what John says, another reason people read the BofM allegorically (as Ezra B did) is because the similarities there are uncanny when lined up with modernity. It also reflects biblical typologies (naturally).

    The advantage to the typological reading, IMO, is that one can know where one is “on the map” so to speak.

    Mogget — even the millenium is an undetermined length of time in the book of Revelation. You’ll note when it is mentioned there’s no definite article on the word “thousand.” One could read it as “a thousand” but not “one thousand,” as most are tempted to do. St. John (or whoever wrote Rev.) culls this usage from the OT, wherein a “thousand” (Heb. ‘eleph) is rarely an exact count of something, but sort the toss-up number akin to “frickin’ huge” or “TONS!” or “plethora.” There’s a few usages of this in the Psalter — cf. TDOT. Also, when the end times are discussed in Rev., it’s done in the subjunctive mood, not the indicative, which puts the burden of proof on the millenialists and/or dispensationalists. That there is a hard-and-fast 1,000 year period is, IMO, an innocent mistake to make.

  5. First I completely agree that thousand years means “a dang long time”.

    Second, I think the BoM pattern is a great way to set expectations for the Second Coming and Millennial reign of Christ. However, I fail to see how determinism is related. (See the post I linked to earlier for further discussion on that.)

  6. Well for one thing the outcome as described on the Book of Mormon was that the more wicked part of the people were killed in the calamaties that preceded the Lord’s arrival and the more righteous part were spared. There is no mention of exact numbers or percentages in that. So if you and I are right about the model being applicable in the future then the question of who will be righteous and who will be wicked then could easily be completely undetermined and up to free will.

    Is that what you mean?

  7. Ah well, you know, as it turns out, John has two expressions that deal with the ideas of “thousand” and “ten thousand.”

    One is CHILIADES / MURIADES. This means either “X thousand” or “thousands of,” or “X-ty thousand” or “myriads of,” respectively.

    The other is CHILIOI / MURIOI. This is reserved for “one thousand” or “ten thousand.”

    The expression under consideration is CHILIA ETE, hence, one thousand.

    The presence or absence of the definite article is not probative. The other nearby uses, which refer to the same period, do have the article. It is also likely that v. 4 is a gloss, which makes the anarthrous form less surprising.

    I do like the expression “frickin’ huge,” however. If an appropriate context turns up, I may just use it for the CHILIADES / MURIADES expression.

  8. Sorry, I should also note that I do not think that the 1,000 years is best read literally, either, but for reasons that have to do with the John’s use of symbolism, not his grammar.

  9. So what I’m hearing is that President Benson raised the idea of reading the BoM in this fashion, but that nothing in the text itself suggests that Mormon so intended.

    And you know, if we talk in general terms, about the stuff that happens at the “turning of the ages,” or as part of the Day of the Lord, or whatever, then that’s fine.

    There’s war, trouble, natural disasters, gross moral laxitude, wrath of God, stake presidents with combovers, multi-media in sacrament meeting, etc., etc. We really haven’t, however, gained much, if anything. All those ideas are in the NT. (Well, except the last two, I guess.)

    If, however, we are talking about comparing Hel / 3 Ne to the front page of the newspaper, then I’m voting myself off the island on this one, for at least two reasons:

    1) I don’t see any keys or methods telling us how this reading is to be done. The whole thing looks rather arbitrary, and similarly;

    2) R-E-V-E-L-A-T-I-O-N. Not a good precedent there. As it turns out, practically everybody for the last 1,800 years has been able to find their own “modernity” in the Apocalypse. I can’t see this as being any different.

  10. Mogget, despite the use of the article on other “thousands” near the one in question, you gotta admit that it is quite funky that John didn’t use the article on that one instance of it. I mean, it’s almost freaky.

    Then you have the mood. The subjunctive mood (over and against the indicative) I think is more revealing that the absence of the article.

    I like “plethora” myself (I’m thinking Three Amigos here….)

  11. Sometimes, I read posts here and think, “What am I doing here?” =)

    Let me make an attempt to understand the deterministic/free agency discussion. In my own mind, I think we have both free will, and yet also have predetermined destinies. If you think about it, without predestination, prophecy is not really possible, except maybe as guesswork? The thing is, we have our own agency, but do not know what our final destination will be. God does, though. How else would you have something so specific as the odd discussion in 2nd Nephi 27?
    BOM sealed book
    compared to the JS-H:
    JSH sealed book

    This is before Joseph Smith translates it, right?

    So, will I become exalted? I don’t the answer to that, but I think Heavenly Father does. Him knowing does not impair my ability to make my own choices, though. (Suddenly, I’m thinking of the Matrix when the Oracle tells Neo, “You are not the One.”)

    Or am I missing the point entirely? (this would not be a big stretch)

  12. stake presidents with combovers, multi-media in sacrament meeting… except the last two

    I don’t know man, those last two are “frickin’ huge” indicators, IMO, of the coming apocalypse. Oh, and that the Red Sox won the series last year. That was a big one for me too.

    Who knows. I bet Polycarp had comb-over. He seems the type.

  13. Well, if an AWOL definite article were the only funky thing about John’s Greek, we’d probably know the year, month, day, and hour of the parousia, thereby obviating the need for Helaman and 3 Nephi.

    I did, however, mean to ask you about your thoughts on the moods — where did that come from?

    First, I’m in 20:4, and the relevant verbs are aorist indicative. I see subjunctives in other verses, but I thought we were working on this one.

    Second, I’m not sure John quite knew what he was doing with the subjunctive. And there’s definitely some “creep” in the mss tradition WRT to future indicative and the aorist subjunctive, particularly in Alexandrinus.

    So let me know for sure, and I’ll cogitate on it!

    And now… I gotta get some serious work done here…

  14. FHL and John C.,

    I am completely convinced that free will is not compatible with exhaustive foreknowledge. Either we are free to choose (like Lehi said) or we are predestined (like Calvin said). Here are a mess o’ posts discussing this very idea.

  15. Mogget, I rattled off what I had on memory; I took a course on Revelation about 3 semesters ago. I have a tradition of scanning my notes to each course and throwing out the papers, and I just didn’t feel like searching the images; hence why my ploy is not as detailed as your rebuttal. But, I do remember the aorists being important as well (the aorist being the “nothing” or “summary” mood, according to Daniel Wallace and others), but the subjunctive does play a part in what we looked at. Perhaps there are other verses for millenial proof-texting?

    But I’m with you, in that my biggest reason for not sticking with a stern, mathematical dispensationalism is not so much from the grammar employed (althought it’s nice to have that too!), but from the genre of the Apocalypse itself. The whole thing front to back is loosely based on the fall of Rome but veiled in a Jewish pool of imagery that, frankly, I think many of John’s contemporaries may have not fully understood. It’s a piece of work, man. Much like my SP’s hairdo.

  16. I had heard before that Helamam-3Nephi was used by some people as a rough guide for the last days but I didn’t know it started wiith Pres. Benson. When I first heard it from a friend one day I checked it out at church the next Sunday and skimmed the chapter headings to see what events of significance could possibly relate to our days and was surprised at the amazing parallels. (BTW, this same friend claimed that Elder Eyring said he thought we were up to 3Ne. now FWIW) But my wife and I have just read through Helaman to 3NE. 2 and I’m fast becoming a critic. Some rough, unusual details sound really interesting (ie. the people all up and move and build houses of cement) and some very general statements could apply (the people were wicked, a bunch of Lamanites convert) but some of the basics in these chapters don’t seem to have parallels at all. How long is this period supposed to cover? When does it begin corollating to our history? Where is the huge fluctuation of faithfulness in the church today, back and forth from strong to weak and back? Anyone see ANY parallels to Hel. 5? Do the Nephites represent the church or the U.S. or what? If they represent the church then when did the secret combinations take over the church leadership (Hel. 6)? How about a famine that ends a war that a prophet asked for? Who is our Samuel the Lamanite? The questions went on and on for me and I began to wonder if people were just plucking out whatever they wanted to apply and ignoring the plot developments found in these passages. Anybody got a defence for this?

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