From Feast upon the Word (http://feastupontheword.org). Copyright, Feast upon the Word.
The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapter 29
- Why does Mormon include this in his book? How does it transition from 28 to 30? Does Alma record this right after the battle mentioned in 28? Why is there no context given for his words, why is it that Alma is not even explicitly mentioned?
- Verse 3: Usually we think a desire, or wish, in itself is not a sin. In this line of thinking it is only when we entertain them or act them in ways that are counter to God that they become sin. In verse 3 Alma tells us he sins in his wish. Does this suggest that his desire, in itself, was a sin, or is Alma talking about something more than simply his desire?
- Verse 3 & 6: Alma says he sins in his wish to be an angel and cry repentance unto the earth (v. 3), and essentially that he should be content to do that which he has been called (v. 6). But D&C 58:26-29 discusses how we should not have to be commanded in all things, but that we should be "anxiously engaged in a good cause" and "do many things of [our] own free will." How can the notions of sin as described here by Alma and that in D&C 58 be reconciled?
- Verse 4 Are there important nuances in this verse? For example, what is the difference between our "desire" and our "will"? And is there a difference between 'granting', 'allotting' and 'decreeing'?
 Lexical notes
- harrow Webster's 1828 gives the definition "to tear; to lacerate; to torment." Interestingly the example includes the phrase "harrow up thy soul." Today "torment" would be a good substitute.
 The Fulfillment of Alma's Wish
The genre of this chapter is cri de coeur. Chapter 26 likewise contains a cri de coeur, that of Ammon as he successfully concludes his 14 year mission to the Lamanites. The adjacency of these two similar cries of the heart is probably not an accident. The people of Ammon have paid tribute to Ammon and his brothers by regarding them as angels (Alma 24:14, 27:4), i.e., as being for them, the equivalent of the angel sent by God to recover Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Alma's missonary work seems to have been somewhat less successful, e.g., at Ammonihah. And yet, Alma's wish that he might be an angel is ironically fulfilled. Though he suggests in verse 3 that he sins in his wish, in truth, Alma's worthy prayer was granted in multiple ways. The Book of Mormon twice quite explicitly memorializes Alma as the bearer of an angelic message. This first happens in Alma 8:14-18 where the very angel who called him to repentence now appears and commends him on how faithful he has been since that visit. The angel then commissions him to return to Ammonihah with a specific message. Alma becomes, in effect, the agent of that angel, himself a messenger from God who will speak the words of the angel to the people of Ammonihah. He is likewise cast in the role of an angel on his mission to the Zoramites. In Alma 32:23, he tells the poor and humble Zoramites that God "imparteth his word by angels unto men." For these people he is that angel. But most strikingly, Alma speaks as he desires "with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentence unto every people" through the publication of the Book of Mormon. Through the Book of Mormon, by some accounts the second most published book in human history, Alma speaks with more power to more people than he could ever have imagined in the moment of his cri de cour. Though he did not know it in his lifetime, his righteous wish was granted more fully than he could ever have imagined. Almost everyone reading this comment is part of the vast audience of those who have heard and been moved by the testimony of Alma that has been broadcast to the entire world, each person miraculously hearing Alma's testimony in his or her own tongue.
 Related links