“It Is Sealed”

Brant Gardner

Literary: These verses are based on Isaiah 29:11-12:

Isa. 29:11

11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

Isa. 29:12

12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

The shift in the context of Isaiah’s words creates an alteration in the sequence of the actual history. Because of the format of Isaiah’s text, the unlearned man must get and read the text after the refusal of the learned in fact, Joseph as the unlearned man had begun the translation, and the Anthon incident is Martin Harris’ way of gaining enough confidence to be willing to mortgage his farm to support the Book. The text must also shift from the delivery of the book in Isaiah to the refusal in Nephi. While the texts are certainly similar, Nephi’s text is descriptive of specific events of the restoration.

Textual: It is possible that the very precise connection between Nephi’s prophecy and the actual experience has been influenced by the experience itself. The presentation of the characters to Professor Anthon occurred before this text is translated, and so Nephi’s plate text is likely translated in such a way as to be precise. Of course, this is not to say that Nephi could not have foreseen the events this precisely, but rather that given the nature of the translation methodology of the Book of Mormon, Joseph’s choice of words and phrases for the English rendition of Nephi’s meaning would have necessarily taken known experience into account. This precision stands in contrast to other alterations of sequence in Nephi, once again suggesting that Nephi’s vision gave the outlines of the future history, and that this particular incident has received a translation that is allowed to be precise because the prophecy had so recently been fulfilled.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon