“I Will Tell You of the Wrestle Which I Had Before God”

Brant Gardner

Enos jumps into his story after the briefest of introductions. Unlike Jacob’s writings, which focused on his mission to his people, Enos tells an intensely personal story, a return to the narrative that characterized much of 1 Nephi.

Culture: The book of Enos is an important departure from the books of Nephi and Jacob. But what is significant is what is missing: any reference to an official position among the people. There are no recorded public ceremonies or recognition of status. Nephi was made king, and Jacob was declared a priest. Enos is a prophet, but it seems to be much more similar to the role of a prophet in ancient Israel rather than the personal/institutional role filled by a modern Mormon prophet. Enos is a prophet (v. 19), but there were many prophets (v. 22).

Although I have argued that Jacob was reinstated to a position of formal—or at least recognized—authority as a result of his encounter with Sherem, this position apparently was not passed on to Enos. He does not appear to hold the position of chief priest, perform any formal priestly functions, mentions no public function at all (except for possibly participating in the Nephite military campaigns, v. 24), and apparently continues to be marginalized, as Jacob was during part of his ministry. This pattern seems the more likely for Enos because it becomes painfully obvious in subsequent small plate writers—Enos’s descendants.

What can we reconstruct of Nephite society at this point? Certainly the chief ruler would have been a king and likely there was a chief priest, as the size of the community would warrant a religious specialist. However, the religious position was not hereditary through Jacob. If it were hereditary, it probably reverted to the descendants of Nephi, or possibly to a newly appointed priestly line.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3