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“Our Great God Has in Goodness Sent These”: Notes on the Goodness of God, the Didactic Good of Nephi’s Small Plates, and Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s Renaming

Title“Our Great God Has in Goodness Sent These”: Notes on the Goodness of God, the Didactic Good of Nephi’s Small Plates, and Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s Renaming
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsBowen, Matthew L., and Pedro Olavarria
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
Volume61
Pagination97–134
KeywordsAnti-Nephi-Lehi (Lamanite King); Conversion; Inclusio; Onomastics; Small Plates of Nephi; Throne Name
Abstract

Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s speech (Alma 24:7–16) reveals multiple allusions to significant texts in Nephi’s small plates record. Thus, when he declares “I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us,” he appears to allude to an inclusio that bookends the two books of Nephi’s small plates record which emphasizes the “goodness” of God as a theme. Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s description of his ancestors as “wicked fathers” appears to deliberately contrast Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael with Nephi’s “goodly parents” in 1 Nephi 1:1. The name Nephi constitutes a key element in Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s own name, a name honorifically bestowed on him as a throne-name by his father. In view of the probable etymological origin of Nephi as Egyptian nfr (“good,” “goodly,” “fair”) and its evident, persistent association with “good” among the Nephites, Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s naming and the introduction to his speech deserve closer examination. This article explores the possible significance of this naming in conjunction with the Lamanites’ reception of divine “goodness” in the contexts of Nephite/Lamanite history and the Lamanite conversion narratives.

URLhttps://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/our-great-god-has-in-goodness-sent-these-notes-on-the-goodness-of-god-the-didactic-good-of-nephis-small-plates-and-anti-nephi-lehis-renaming/