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“God Hath Taken Away His Plainness”: Some Notes on Jacob 4:14, Revelation, Canon, Covenant, and Law
Title“God Hath Taken Away His Plainness”: Some Notes on Jacob 4:14, Revelation, Canon, Covenant, and Law
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsBowen, Matthew L.
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
Volume39
Pagination81-102
KeywordsAllegory of the Olive Tree; Canon; Covenant; Jacob (Son of Lehi); Law; Revelation
Abstract

This article examines Jacob’s statement “God hath taken away his plainness from [the Jews]” (Jacob 4:14) as one of several scriptural texts employing language that revolves around the Deuteronomic canon formulae (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32 [13:1]; cf. Revelation 22:18‒19). It further examines the textual dependency of Jacob 4:13‒14 on Nephi’s earlier writings, 1 Nephi 13 and 2 Nephi 25 in particular. The three texts in the Hebrew Bible that use the verb bʾr (Deuteronomy 1:5; 27:8; Habakkuk 2:2) — each having covenant and “law” implications — all shed light on what Nephi and Jacob may have meant when they described “plain” writing, “plain and precious things [words],” “words of plainness,” etc. Jacob’s use of Zenos’s allegory of the olive tree as a means of describing the Lord’s restoring or re-“adding” what had been “taken away,” including his use of Isaiah 11:11 (Jacob 6:2) as a hermeneutical lens for the entire allegory, further connects everything from Jacob 4:14 (“God hath taken away”) to Jacob 6:2 with the name “Joseph.” Genesis etiologizes the name Joseph in terms of divine “taking away” (ʾāsap) and “adding” (yōsēp; Genesis 30:23‒24; cf. Numbers 36:1‒5). God’s “tak[ing] away his plainness” involved both divine and human agency, but the restoration of his plainness required divine agency. For Latter-day Saints, it is significant the Lord accomplished this through a “Joseph.”

URLhttps://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/god-hath-taken-away-his-plainness-some-notes-on-jacob-414-revelation-canon-covenant-and-law/

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