“They Will Be Drunken with Iniquity”

Brant Gardner

Text: Nephi returns to his theme of the coming of the gospel to the Gentiles. The chapter does not begin here in the 1830 edition. While the change in topic from the previous verse to this one is certainly sufficient to justify starting a new chapter, such a break nevertheless obscures the aside by making it less obvious that those verses are an interjection into the main thread of Nephi’s discourse.

Narrative: Only part of Nephi’s purpose is to affirm that his description of the state of the Jews and Gentiles is true. Rather, his main point is to show how the words of the righteous portion of his people will come to the Gentiles, helping convert them to Christ. While it is true that the Christian churches were all in a state of apostasy, it was hyperbole for Nephi to declare that the entire world “will be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations.” Such a characterization does not acknowledge the people in the last days who are genuinely good. However, Nephi’s overgeneralization is not intended to describe individuals, but rather “the world.” Furthermore, it is not even intended to describe general morality, but rather the state of apostasy that will require his people’s words (the Book of Mormon) as an instrument to restore a true knowledge of the Savior.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2