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TitleIs Not This Real?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSpencer, Joseph M.
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
KeywordsAlma the Younger; Faith; Knowledge; Korihor; Parable

The question at the heart of the exchange between Korihor and Alma in the Book of Mormon concerns knowledge, what Alma calls the real. This essay probes Korihor’s appraisal of the Nephite’s Christian devotion, sorting out the basic stakes of his argument, and then looks at how Alma slowly and belatedly develops a full response to Korihor. Deviating from traditional interpretations of the parable of the seed of faith, Spencer illustrates that Alma effectively displaces knowledge as a core value, arguing that faith not only is not lesser than knowledge but also goes beyond knowledge and produces something of infinitely more value. Although one can know the truth of Christ and know it perfectly, faith continues beyond knowledge because faith aims not at acquiring knowledge, but at eternal life.