“Behold is Not This the Great Spirit”

Alan C. Miner

According to Brant Gardner, we can easily understand the wonder of the king at Ammon's mighty feat; however, it is more difficult to understand the nature of the king's response: "Surely, this is more than a man. Behold is not this the Great Spirit who doth send such great punishments upon this people, because of their murders?"

The king had previously met Ammon, so how could he think of him as anything more than a man? We might gain some insight from an understanding of Mesoamerican deities. The line between human and divine was not as firmly drawn in Mesoamerica as it is in the Western world. Many of the Mesoamerican religious stories deal with exploits of named individuals who are "more than men." The hero twins of the Popol Vuh are certainly depicted as men, but they are just as certainly more than that. The Mixtec deity male 9 Wind is shown in the Codex Vindobonensis as a being in the heavens who descends and acts upon the earth. There are indications in the myriad of legends surrounding the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl that he not only has a heavenly aspect, but one in which he operates on earth as "more than a man. These "more than men" may be best understood as demi-gods, or deities that inhabit the world and function here, but retain other-worldly powers. It is in this light that we should see King Lamoni's speculation on the nature of Ammon. [Brant Gardner, Book of Mormon Commentary, [http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/] Alma/Alma18.htm, pp. 1-2]

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