“They Set the Mark Upon Themselves”

Alan C. Miner

Alma 3:13 states that the Amlicites "had a mark set upon them; yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of red upon their foreheads." In Alma 3:15 it says that "whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head [or name], and there was a mark [or curse] set upon him." According to Hugh Nibley, you can call the curse the culture; it depends on how you want it. . . . Marriage is not enough; you have to share their culture. It's not a physical thing; you have to be led away by them and join in their way of life, their culture. He was called by that name, and there was a mark set upon him. You set it on yourself actually. "And it came to pass that whosever would not believe in the tradition of the Lamanites [notice it's the traditions that are being separated here--not the blood, not the people], but believed those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem . . . were called Nephites." (Alma 3:11). No matter what your family was or anything else, you were called a Nephite. A Nephite or a Lamanite was one who accepted a tradition--the Nephite or the Lamanite tradition. Alma 3:10-17 makes that very clear. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p. 247]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary