Alma 30:1-60

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Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapter 30
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Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 30 to the rest of Alma is discussed at Alma.

Story. Chapter 30 consists of ___ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 30 include:


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  • Alma 30:7-10. Because these verses are the only place in the Book of Mormon where a specific legal rule is derived from a particular scriptural text they are an interesting place to gain insight into Nephite legal reasoning. In this case, the scriptural text is Josh 24:15, and the legal rule is that "if he [i.e. a man] did not believe in him [i.e. God] there was no law to punish him." This rule is contrasted with the prohibitions on murder, robbery, and adultery, all of which could be punished. (Note: The fact that adultery was punished gives lie to those who have attempted to interpret this as a libertarian proof text.)
Joshua 24 is sometimes referred to as the Shechem Covenant. It recounts how at the end of his life, Joshua gathered the Children of Israel at Shechem and rehearsed to them the history of God's dealing with them, how he brought them to the Promised Land and gave it to them. In Josh 24:15 (the verse relied on by the Nephite jurists), Joshua then asks the Children of Israel whether or not they will serve God. They reply in the affirmative, and Joshua then draws up an elaborate contract -- complete with legal formalities -- to make their promise binding.
The Shechem passage is interesting because it is one of the few places in the Old Testament where the Children of Israel are offered a choice of whether or not they will serve Yahweh rather than other gods. Elsewhere, the Children of Israel are chosen by God rather than vice versa. Hence, the passage is perhaps uniquely suited for providing a voluntarist justification for religious practice.
What is also interesting is that the Shechem passage contains explicitly legal materials, namely the covenant by Israel to follow God. Because of this, a more natural legal reading of the passage would be to construe the terms of this covenant as being binding upon all Israelites including, presumably, the Nephites. In that case, it would make sense to carefully analyze the terms of this contract to understand the resulting Nephite obligations. Instead however, the Nephites define their legal rule in reference to the Joshua passage as if they are themselves within the story having the same choice the Israelites there had.
  • Alma 30:10. This verse seems to be making a distinction between "stealing" and "robbery." Some have argued that this tracks a distinction in ancient Hebrew law between merely taking the property of someone else ("stealing") and attacking them on the highway and extracting property by threats of violence ("robbery").
  • Alma 30:41-42. We see over and over in the Book of Mormon that signs do not convert. Take Laman and Lemuel for instance. Over and over they experienced physical signs (i.e. visitations from angels, hearing the voice of the Lord, etc), however, they never became truly converted, and in the end they fell away from the truth.
In verses 41-42 Alma states that he knows these things are true, and that he knows that Korihor also knows the truth. One can picture Alma looking Korihor in the eye, feeling the Spirit witness the truth of what Alma has been teaching, and knowing that Korihor is also feeling the Spirit. Then in verse 44 Alma says 'Thou hast had signs enough...', listing all the various physical evidences, and in verse 46 he says '..that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth...' refering to the witness of the Spirit that Korihor is denying.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 30:2: Why didn't the Nephites number their dead?
  • Alma 30:2: Why was fasting and prayer necessary to the establishment of peace?
  • Alma 30:3: What ordinances of God are referred to here as being "according to the law of Moses"?
  • Alma 30:3: How does the Nephite understanding of the Law of Moses differ from that which you find in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 30:3: How does the Nephite understanding of the Law of Moses affect our understanding of doctrines in the church today that appear to be temporary?
  • Alma 30:6: Apparently Korihor is not from the land of Zarahemla, as here he is described as coming "into the land". Where did Korihor come from?
  • Alma 30:6: Anti. What is the exact meaning of the term "Anti"? We also see this term used in describing the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's who later became the people of Ammon.
  • Alma 30:27-28: Alma states in verse 32 that Korihor is wrong and knows he's wrong about church officials glutting themselves with the labors of the people. Why would Korihor make such a claim? Are similar arguments used to today to criticize religious teachings? If so, by whom?
  • Alma 30:44: Signs enough. If the prophets taught that "many signs" (Hel 14:6) would precede the Savior's birth, then how does this verse help us determine what is the appropriate or adequate number of signs for the Lord's people?
  • Alma 30:44: Tempt. What does Alma mean by using the word "tempt" here? Where else in LDS scripture is this term used, and what are the connotations? How does this word differ from the related (at least in Hebrew) words prove and try? How are these words used in similarly and differently in LDS scripture, and the Book of Mormon in particular? (Cf. lexical note for James 1:13.)
  • Alma 30:44: Your God. Did the use of this phrase by speakers in the scriptures always carry with it the presumption that there was only one God? Or does 2 Chr 32:14-15 offer an example of how this phrase could be used to refer to someone else's God? Why does this verse not follow the nearly consistent pattern in the Old Testament of referring to Jehovah as "the Lord your God"? How did Alma decide whether it was more appropriate to speak of "our God" or of "your God"?
  • Alma 30:44: Show me a sign. Was Alma unnecessarily repeating the request that Korihor had already made in the previous verse? Why did Alma use the future tense, since presumably it signaled that Korihor had not yet made the request? Or was Alma trying to say that Korihor did not need to make his request, because the answer was already before him?
  • Alma 30:44: Have the testimony. Was Alma echoing the language of John in Rev 12:17 and Rev 19:10? If so, was he implying that, at some level, Korihor already had a testimony?
  • Alma 30:44: Brethren and Prophets. Does Alma 20:15 provide a precedent for equating these two social groups? Or was Alma actually making a distinction between the inspired words of these two different groups?
  • Alma 30:44: Scriptures are laid before thee. Does Alma 18:36 provide evidence that Mormon edited this account to suggest that Korihor had literally read the scriptures? Or does JS-H 1:74 indicate this was more of a metaphorical statement on Alma's part?
  • Alma 30:44: All things denote there is a God. Is Alma saying that words will fail as irrefutable evidence of God's existence but that objects have a fixed meaning that signify God is alive? If the word "denote" means "to signify directly or literally," would it have been more accurate for Alma to have said simply that "all things signify there is a God," so that we would not be left wondering how the signifying is supposedly literal? Or did Alma choose not to water down his claim and use the word "connote," which is defined as "to signify indirectly, suggest or imply," because he sincerely believes that every object in the universe is a testament of its Creator?
  • Alma 30:44: Motion and Planets. How much knowledge did the Nephites have of other major objects in our galaxy and throughout the universe? Was the single mention of planets in the Old Testament 2 Kgs 23:5 sufficient to make them aware of extraterrestrial bodies? Or did they have astronomers, remnants of whose work can still be seen in Mesoamerica, who detected these heavenly bodies by careful study of the stars? Along with Hel 12:15, does this verse provide evidence that Nephite cosomology anticipated some of the findings of Copernicus' heliocentrism?
  • Alma 30:46: Resist the spirit of the truth. What does this mean? How does resisting the spirit of the truth relate to having a hard heart? How is it connected to seeking a sign? What is being resisted, and how? Is it a feeling Korihor is having, a feeling that what Alma says is factually correct? Is there a spirit that accompanies any declaration of truth (and what is truth) that one feels or detects in some way, and Korihor is pushing it away? What is happening here?
  • Alma 30:51: Why did the chief judge "write" to Korihor? Was Korihor struck deaf as well as dumb (v. 50)?
  • Alma 30:53: How is it possible for "the devil" to appear "in the form of an angel"? Was this devil Satan or some other evil spirit?
  • Alma 30:53: Why would Korihor believe an angel that said there was no God?
  • Alma 30:53: What is meant here by "an unknown God"?
  • Alma 30:53: How does this appearance of the devil as an angel compare with the appearance of an angel to Alma? What can we learn from this parallelism?
  • Alma 30:53: Korihor stated that the words of the devil "were pleasing unto the carnal mind". What does this teach us about how the devil works?
  • Alma 30:53: Korihor states that he "verily believed that [the words of the devil] were true" because he had "much success" teaching them. How does this compare with what Alma teaches about knowing that the word of God is true?
  • Alma 30:59: What does it mean that Korihor was "run upon and trodden down...until he was dead?" Does this mean that he was trampled, as if by British soccer fans? Or is this a reference to something else? In Mesoamerica, imagery shows that war captives were frequently stepped on by their captors before being sacrificed to their gods. Is this verse reference to a similar practice of human sacrifice among the Zoramites?
  • Alma 30:60: Why are Korihor's actions referred to as a perversion of the ways of the Lord, rather than an apostasy or turning away from those ways?


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