“Gave Him a Book”

Brant Gardner

Literature: Compare Lehi’s experience to that of John in Revelation 10:8–11:

And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

Ostler provides more background on this episode:

The book given to the prophet by the messenger from the heavenly council is another motif of the call Gattung [literary form] that derives from ancient Near Eastern origins, a motif that enjoyed widespread popularity. Geo Widengren, who wrote probably the most extensive study to date of the heavenly book, states, “Few religious ideas in the Ancient Near East have played a more important role than the notion of heavenly tablets, or the heavenly book.” One of the most significant features in history [is] the oft recurring thought that the heavenly book is handed over at the ascension in an interview with a heavenly being, or the gods or heavenly beings.

The book is a metaphor of the prophet’s commission to prophesy (Rev. 10:11). The parallel episode in Revelation makes this event the likely point during the vision at which the prophet is called.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1