“We Have Got a Bible”

Brant Gardner

This theme is a restatement of Nephi’s earlier pronouncement:

2 Nephi 28:26

26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

2 Nephi 28:27

27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!

2 Nephi 28:28

28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.

2 Nephi 28:29

29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!

In chapter 28 the theme is in Nephi’s words. Here is chapter 29 it is the Lord speaking. Both, however, are referring to the same phenomenon. Each refers to those who have received, and see no need of receiving more. As Nephi indicated, these are people who fall under condemnation because they insufficiently accept the way of the Lord.

Translation: The word “Bible” is certainly an anachronism, but a forgivable one. The word Bible comes from the Greek biblia “books” and referred to the collection of books that eventually formed the Christian Bible. Because that specific term is linked to the creation of the a specific set of texts 700 or 800 years after Nephi, the underlying term on the plates certainly would not have meant precisely the same think as our “Bible.” However, the intent of the verse is to contrast a received text with a new text. Regardless of how that might have been designated on the plates, the function for the word “Bible” is sufficient, and as the term most readily accessible to Joseph, it is a natural insertion in the English text.

The unfortunate aspect of the use of the word Bible in this context is that it tends to lose the ancient associations and meanings in favor of the known connotations of our Bible. Where it might appear that it is a conflict between a current printed Bible and the forthcoming Book of Mormon, the real conflict is in the ability of the Gentiles to accept further information from God. It is this particular context that relates to the text in 2 Nephi 28:26-29. In those verses, the lack of the word “Bible” opens the interpretation to multiple forms of continuing revealed knowledge. In 2 Nephi 29:3 the context is specifically a written form, but only because it is paralleled to the words of Nephi’s descendants that are to come forth. The force of the literary parallel requires that a written text be juxtaposed against another written text, thus the Bible and the Book of Mormon. These verses will also introduce the idea of further written records. The emphasis is on the written, not the particular form of the written word of God.

Of course, the historical reality is precisely that the Bible was considered sufficient. The point is not that such a situation was not known to Nephi (or the Lord, who is the speaker here), but rather than Nephi did not intend to be limited to such a narrow scope.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon