“None Are Forbidden”

Brant Gardner

Verses 27 and 28 continue the same lesson. We have Nephi here creating a set of poetic parallels. We have four verses that are structurally and thematically similar. In such a situation, the lesson is to transcend the specifics. With the repetition of the similar themes, the reader is to understand that it is not only the specifics, but the general lesson that is to apply (see Matthew 5:21-47 for a similar use of parallel structures). The general lesson is the difference between exclusion and inclusion, with inclusion being the message of the Lord.

2 Nephi 26:29

29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

Verse 29 appears to be given as the cause of the exclusionary tendencies against which Nephi is preaching. Daniel Ludlow provides a definition of these “priestcrafts:”

“The word priestcraft is used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the teachings of those people who would make a craft (or business) out of being a priest (or religious leader) to the people. Nephi indicates one danger of priestcraft is that such professional religious leaders would be more concerned with teaching those things which were popular and acceptable unto the people than they would in preaching the word of God. Thus they seek to ”get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion." (2 Nephi 26:29.) (Ludlow, Daniel H. A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, 1976, p. 146 ).

We should also see these priestcrafts in light of Nephi’s statements against those who “put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor” (verse 20). Nephi appears to be linking his very specific references to those who practice these “priestcrafts.”

In the light of the specific examples, we may also define “priestcrafts” as those religions or communities which would exclude any from the benefits of the gospel.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon