Nephi, who began the Book of Mormon record, wrote of his own experiences as a young,
developing son of the prophet Lehi. He quoted his father extensively, and particularly
Lehi’s last words to his posterity, individually and collectively.
My father, great Lehi, my father - a man whom I love and revere -
He taught me by word and example of sacred things precious and dear.
The Lord spoke and Lehi consented; he gave up his wealth and his lands
To live in remote isolation, no more to see home place and friends.
“Men Are That They Might Have Joy” – J. Marinus Jensen & J.J. Keeler
LDS Hymns, 275
Book of Mormon prophet Lehi, whose life spanned a variety of problems, disappointments,
and suffering, gave the world a timeless adage when he said, “Adam fell that men
might be, and men are that they might have joy.”
Detail from quilt, by Isa Tania Domínguez Herrada, Xochimilco Ward, México City México
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run
over the wall. … The blessings of thy father … shall be on the head of Joseph, and
on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren” (Gen. 49:22,
26). The Nephites and Lamanites, descendants of Joseph, are beneficiaries of the
blessings sealed upon the head of Joseph.
The missionaries extend the message of the Book of Mormon to all the world. The Lord
said that we are to “go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature”
(D&C 18:28). In the midst of the noise and tasks of daily life, the gospel message
is transmitted through the work of the missionaries. This artwork depicts daily life
in Mesoamerica. Dressed in typical Guatemalan clothing, two women read the Book of
Mormon. A vendor of roasted corn takes no notice of the women, nor of the missionaries
behind her giving a Book of Mormon to a tourist. A woman who tends to stay in the
background observes them with curiosity. In the background, the mountains appear
as a goal to be reached, symbolizing the divine, set apart from the earthly.
Shortly before his death, Lehi called his posterity together and gave them final
exhortations and blessings.
The contrast between this painting and the subsequent lithograph helps make clear
some of Christensen's style in painting people. The lithograph, which is a redrawing
of Christensen's original, shows greater drawing skill. But it also shows the weakness
of the academic tradition in depicting life. Contrast the three small children closest
to Lehi in the lower right. The little girl is Christensen's painting is burying
her face in her grandfather's lap. In the lithograph she is primly standing in a
graceful pose. The chubby little boy in the blue skirt standing flat-footed is slimmed
down in the lithograph and placed in a graceful, dance-like pose. To the left of
the woman in white, Christensen shows a small child bowing his neck and back as he
strains to escape from his mother. In the lithograph the child has been changed into
a graceful little cherub, much less childlike. What Christensen lacked in drawing
skill, he more than made up in keen observation and real humility. His people are
not just collections of academic types learned in art school.
Selected patches in this quilt represent scriptures that teach gospel principles
that are meaningful to me. The quilt was inspired by the testimony and example of
Nephi, who made such great efforts to ensure that his people would have a record
of the word of God and know His works. Nephi’s love of the scriptures and powerful
testimony touch the hearts of many and inspire us to read and study the scriptures
and apply God’s plan to our lives. “For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and
my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children”
(2 Nephi 4:15).
Nephi's brothers plotted to kill him, saying that he wished to rule over them. Like
his father before him, Nephi was warned by the Lord to flee with his family and followers
into the wilderness.
Nephi, front left, leads his people in this nighttime march. The clothing style is
very similar to the classical styles that Christensen would have seen at the Royal
Academy and in European religious painting.
This is my depiction of Nephi studying Isaiah out of the brass plates. In order for
Nephi to have such a unique understanding of Isaiah's prophesies, he must have dedicated
countless hours to studying, pondering, and praying about his words. I like to imagine
he studied by night, perhaps the only free time he had in the midst of journeying
in the wilderness, hunting, and ship building. I depicted Nephi reading by the light
of an Iron-Age-style oil lamp, which would've been typical around 600 BC. Nephi is
a personal hero of mine and it was a privilege to paint my vision of him. His love
for the scriptures inspires me to search them more carefully and liken them unto
myself. This oil painting was done on a 16x20 inch canvas board.
Nephi, the son of Lehi, made plates out of gold and engraved on them a record of
his life and teachings. One set of plates focused on the history of his people,
the other set (which he made in about 569 BC) contained his prophecies and teachings.
(See 2 Nephi 5:28-33.) The "large plates," containing the historical account, were
kept and added to by the kings and rulers of the people for many generations.
Nephi also consecrated his younger brother, Jacob, to be a priest and a teacher to
his people (2 Nephi 5:26). Before his death, Nephi entrusted the second set of plates
to Jacob, with a charge to write upon them only those "things which [Jacob] considered
to be most precious…And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which
was great, or prophesying, that [Jacob] should engraven…them upon these plates" (Jacob
Jacob's life was devoted to the ministry to which he had been set apart. He taught
the people, kept a record of his ministry, and raised a family capable of perpetuating
the tradition of devotion. In fact, his achievement as a husband and father is probably
the most momentous of his life because he and his descendants, spanning six generations,
kept the "small plates" for more than 400 years.
Within this painting, Jacob is portrayed obediently fulfilling the prophetic commission
he received through his older brother. The expression in his eyes and the light
upon his countenance represent what God did with the life Jacob consecrated to His
The composition of the painting communicates the role of prophets in relation to
the word of the Lord and the people to whom a prophet ministers. The figure appears
between the viewer and a representation of the tree of life, which is where a prophet
always stands in relation to the children of God. For example, Lehi (Jacob's father)
told his children of a vision he had had in which he had seen the tree of life, had
gone forth to partake of its fruit, and, having done so, beckoned to his family to
come and partake also (1 Nephi 8). Such is the type, or pattern, of the prophets
from the Adam to the present day. And so it is with the writings of Jacob, which
speak to us "the pleasing word of God, yea the word which healeth the wounded soul"
Jacob's countenance is evidence of profound spiritual sensitivity springing from
a life of consecration, sacrifice, and, in his words: "great anxiety" for the welfare
of his people. (See 2 Nephi 6:3, Jacob 1:5.) He saw the Savior hundreds of years
before His earthly ministry, was visited by angels, and "heard the voice of the Lord
speaking unto [him] in very word, from time to time" (2 Nephi 11:3, Jacob 7:5). He
enjoyed the spirit of prophecy, and possessed a faith so firm that he could "command
in the name of Jesus and the very trees [obeyed], or the mountains, or the waves
of the sea" (Jacob 4:6). Notwithstanding such strength, however, he acknowledged
his own weakness, and taught the important truth that "it is by [God's] grace, and
his great condescensions unto the children of men" that man is given "power to do
these things" (Jacob 4:7).
Symbolism in I Will Send Their Words Forth
Jacob's father, Lehi, taught his children about the tree of life and the word of
God that leads to it; that the tree and its fruit represent "the love of God, which
sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the
most desirable above all things…and the most joyous to the soul" (1 Nephi 11:22-23).
Also, Jacob's brother, Nephi, taught that in order to stay in the straight and narrow
path leading to the tree of life, it is necessary to hold fast to the word of God,
revealed to His servants, the prophets. (See 1 Nephi 15:23-24). Jacob's recorded
teachings also add an important insight about partaking of the fruit of the tree
of life. He teaches that those desirous of applying the Savior's Atonement in their
own lives must, "Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding
faith," and "lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon
his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever" (Jacob 3:1-2). It was just
this kind of spiritual "firmness" of faith and courage which enabled Jacob to withstand
the temptations of Sherem, the antichrist, by whose cunning flattery Jacob "could
not be shaken" (Jacob 7:5).
Jacob believed the teachings of his father and his older brother, and was faithful
throughout his life. Thus, the image of the painting places Jacob in the midst of
that straight and narrow path leading to salvation. By obedience and endurance to
the end, Jacob placed himself in the vision that his father and brother had; a vision
that is an allegory of mortality, of the earth and all its inhabitants.
An important part of Jacob's writings upon the small plates included the allegory
of the tame and wild olive trees, written anciently among the Israelites by a prophet
named Zenos. The allegory presents the scattering and the gathering of the House
of Israel. Thus, another level of meaning or symbolism in the painting is that of
the tame olive tree. In this light, Jacob reaches out to all the House of Israel,
inviting them to "repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God
as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the
light of the day, harden not your hearts" (Jacob 6:5).
A simple decorative border surrounds the wall painting of the tree. Loosely based
on ancient Hittite and Egyptian border motifs, the border behind the figure suggests
ocean waves and abundant harvests, reminding the viewer of the waters that carried
Jacob's family across the great deep to the Promised Land, and the Lord's promise
to Lehi and his posterity that "inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out
of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments…they shall prosper upon the
face of this land" (2 Nephi 1:9).
Jacob's people were taught by Nephi to be "industrious, and to labor with their hands"
to create "exceedingly fine" workmanship (see 2 Nephi 5:16-17). The table covering
and the wall mural depicted demonstrate the kind of developed and intricate material
culture such highly trained and gifted people could have created.
The figure is draped in the majesty and sumptuousness of a scarlet robe edged with
gold. This mantle represents a robe of righteousness, symbolic of the authority
and power of the priesthood with which God's prophets are endowed. Jacob taught
the people about the resurrection of the dead, and, in describing the condition of
the righteous at that day, declared that they "shall have a perfect knowledge of
their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with
the robe of righteousness" (2 Nephi 9:14).
The subject depicts Mary holding the baby Jesus. They are looking into each other's
eyes while Joseph stands behind and looks down over them. The message of this painting
shows the importance of the Savior's birth and the unconditional love and affection
between a mother and her baby with the loving support of her husband.
Depicts the hands of Moroni, delivering the plates directly into the hands of Joseph.
2 Nephi 27:6-11,13,29
BOOK OF MORMON MUSIC
“From the Dust Shall They Come” - Marilyn Arnold & Maurine Ozment
Sacred Hymns of the Book of Mormon. 1
Nephi, the young man whose writing begin the Book of Mormon, knew by heavenly vision
that his words, and the words of the prophets who would follow him, which were written
on the gold plates, would be preserved. He knew that they would be hidden, and one
day revealed, as if from the dust.
Out of earth shall they come, by the hand of the Lord,
The words of dead saints gone before us.
They shall burst into light as they cry from the dust,
This artwork depicts the fulfillment of prophecies given through the Lord’s prophets.
There are four prophets: Isaiah with his prophetic writings, Ezekiel with scrolls
of scripture from two nations, Moroni humbly kneeling over the plates he diligently
kept, and Joseph Smith retrieving the record and fulfilling a long-awaited promise.
Framing the prophets are motifs from the scriptures—golden wheat woven with tares
as described in the parables of Christ, as well as vines and branches, further connecting
the Lord to his messengers. I have made an effort to progress from the color and
texture of the area surrounding the ancient prophets to a modern style and palette
used beneath the modern prophet, Joseph Smith. Each element, color, and figure testifies
of the continuation of the Lord’s pattern of calling prophets to lead His people.