“The Lamb of God Descending Out of Heaven”

Brant Gardner

Text:These verses prophesy the events recorded in 3 Nephi. Oddly enough, despite its explicitness, this particular prophecy is never referenced close to that time. While the people recognize that the Messiah’s death and arrival among them is approaching, it is the predictions of Samuel the Lamanite, not Nephi, that they recall (3 Ne. 8:3). What this silence confirms is that Nephi’s personal record on the small plates was essentially lost to the greater tradition. Mormon tells us that he found the small plates only as he searched among the records (W of M 1:3). He was not only in charge of the records but was also researching the information from which to create his own summary text. If Mormon, at the end of the Nephite civilization, was unaware of these small plates, we may assume that earlier keepers of the records were similarly unaware of them. Ironically, modern Saints are much more familiar with this part of Nephi’s record than were his own descendants.

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