“We Have Received and We Need No More”

Brant Gardner

Literary: This series of woe-statements reiterates the specific types of people Nephi has discussed, and reinforces the judgement upon them. Each type is one that has been previously mentioned, and they are listed here in a grossly reverse order. This is not a formal chiasm, however, only a use of the general principle of reversal in a different context.

The repetition of virtually the same statement in verses 27 and 29 also suggests that this is not a formal reversal. The two statements do pose an interesting structural problem, however. The repetition is clear, but typically a repetition will either be exact (to serve as literary emphasis) or will be slightly different to highlight that slight difference. Because these two are not exact, the suspicion immediately falls on the second option.

In verse 27 the “wicked” state that “we have received.” In verse 29, the “wicked” state that “we have received the word of God.” This suggests that there is a difference in the types of “wicked,” and that difference relates to the source of the learning to which they hold. Thus those who have “received” refers to the people described in verse 26. These are those who hold to the authority and learning of men. Because they deny God, their recourse to that which is sufficiently received makes no mention of God.

Similarly, the “wicked” of verse 29 are specifically those of verse 28. These are they who have received the word of God and therefore it their source of learning also comes from the word of God. What is most interesting here, however, is that Nephi has indicated that there are two types of “wicked” who have received the word; those who are angered because of it, and those who are complacent with it. This particular condemnation is attached to the angry, not the complacent.

The complacent are covered in verses 24 and 25. Perhaps the lack of the repeated statement here places them conceptually in a different category, as indeed they should be. While still qualifying as “wicked” under God’s strict definitions, they nevertheless have not strayed nearly so far as those who are angry because of the word, nor they that deny entirely that there is a word of God.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon