Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Question of 1 Nephi 2:6-9

This post is more of a question than a explanation.

Learning to study patterns in scripture can be a great tool to see associations between passages. These associations provide clarification, or additional insight into each other.

To me, a most prominent example of common patterns between scriptural motifs is the idea of ascension. The scriptural references to ascension that I would easily associate would be:

Genesis 2, where the Tree of Life is described, and from it flows a river that flows into the world and breaks into four parts.

Ezekiel 47, where the temple is described, and from it flows a stream goes into the world and expands into four levels.

Nephi 8, where the Tree of Life is described, that has a river that flows from it through the world and become polluted as it proceeds.

Now the above are the main anchors of this thought, but I would also associate the Parable of the Olive Tree (Jacob 5-6), The True Vine (John 15), Tree of Faith (Alma 32:40), Revelation 22, Jacob’s Ladder, The Parable of the Sower, and so on, But the point is easier to make with the anchors.

So we see the pattern of the temple, or the Tree of Life being the place or origin. And this is all clearly a temple setting, with a water flow descending from the source into the world.

When we begin to notice a pattern we need to use restraint and not make association that are not there. But this is where my question starts.

I see the pattern of ascension described above in 1 Nephi chapter two verses 6 through 9. I don’t know if anyone has ever pointed this out before.

It is usually not seen as any great revelation, but a simple teaching example used by a father to teach his sons.

Lehi and his family camp beside a river, and from there he builds his example.

In verse 7 Lehi builds an altar that I would contend is a place of covenant and has an ideological equivalence or at least an association to a temple or Tree of Life.

“And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.”

This imagery is a little more difficult to reconcile, but we have in 1 Nephi 2 an altar, a river, a valley, the sea, and a connection to the “fountain of all righteousness.”

(see 1 Nephi 11:25, Ether 8:25, 12:28, 1 Nephi 8:20, 32, Ps 36:9, 68:26, prov. 14:27, Jer. 2:23, 17:13, Joel 3:18, Rev. 7:17, 21:6)

I am unsure of the importance, but I can’t shake the idea that this imagery was purposefully incorporating aspects of other ascension vision. Now was this being used to get them in the mindset to receive the Tree of Life vision that would follow? Or just pure coincidence? Or for some other reason?

What do you think?