Evidence #22 | September 19, 2020

Isaiah/Micah in 3 Nephi

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Scripture Central

Abstract

Analysis of Christ’s quotations of Isaiah and Micah (3 Nephi 20:10–23:5) demonstrates that they are thematically linked and were likely integrated into Christ’s sermon at certain locations to create a chiastic structure.

When Jesus visited the Nephites, He shared a number of teachings from the Old World. For instance, He quoted nearly the entirety of His Sermon on the Mount with only slight variations (see Matthew 5–7; 3 Nephi 12–14). And He quoted a couple chapters from Malachi, after clearly introducing them as such (see 3 Nephi 24:1). However, some of Christ’s quotations of Old World scriptures may be less obvious.

Isaiah by Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier, oil on oak panel (ca. 1838).

In a sermon delivered in 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5, Jesus combined extensive quotations and allusions from Isaiah and Micah with His own teachings and prophecies. The following color-coded chart can help readers visualize which verses in these chapters contain quoted material from these two prophets, and how those quotes are integrated with Christ’s own words:1

Isaiah    

Micah

Isaiah/Micah

3 Nephi 20

10 11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46

3 Nephi 21

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29

3 Nephi 22

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17

3 Nephi 23

1  2  3  4  5

Importantly, the quoted material from Isaiah and Micah are thematically linked with each other and with Christ’s message. All of these teachings deal with God’s covenants with His people, which led Victor L. Ludlow to describe this range of passages as “The Father’s Covenant People Sermon.”2 As described by Ludlow, this sermon “develops six key themes that are structured in a chiastic pattern of introverted parallelism.”3 Ludlow arranged this chiasm as follows:

A The Father and Son work together (3 Nephi 20:10)

     B Isaiah’s words are written, therefore search them (v. 11)

          C Isaiah’s words and the Father’s covenant with Israel will be fulfilled (v. 12)

               D Scattered Israel to be gathered (v. 13)

                    E America an inheritance for the Nephites/Lamanites (v. 14)

                         F Gentiles to repent & receive blessings (vv. 15–20; cf. Micah 5:8-94:12–13)

                              G A New Jerusalem and the Lord’s covenant with Moses, the Gentiles,

                                  etc. (v. 21–29)

                                   H Gospel preached and Zion established; the marred

                                       servant (vv. 30–44; cf. Isaiah 52:1–14)

                                        I Kings shall be speechless (v. 45; cf. Isaiah 52:15)

                                             J Covenant fulfillment and the work of the Father (v. 46)

                                                  K A key sign to be given when things are “about to take place”

                                                      (3 Nephi 21:1)

                                                       L Gentiles learn of scattered Israel (v. 2)

                                                            M These things in the Book of Mormon to come from

                                                                Gentiles to you (Lamanites/Nephites) (v. 3)

                                                                 N Sign of the Father’s covenant with the house of

                                                                     Israel (v. 4)

                                                            M’ These works in the Book of Mormon to come from

                                                                 Gentiles to you (Lamanites/Nephites) (v.5)

                                                       L’ Some Gentiles to be with Israel (v. 6)

                                                  K’ Sign as Lamanites begin to know that the work

                                                       “hath commenced” (v. 7)

                                             J’ Work and covenant of the Father (v. 7)

                                        I’ Kings shall be speechless (v. 8; cf. Isaiah 52:15)

                                   H’ A great and marvelous work; the marred servant (vv. 9–10; cf. Isaiah 52:14)

                              G’ Moses, the Gentiles and covenant Israel (v. 11)

                         F’ Unrepentant Gentiles will be cut down (vv. 12–21; cf. Micah 5:8–15)

                    E’ America an inheritance for the righteous (vv. 22–23)

               D’ Gentiles to help in the gathering of Israel and a New Jerusalem (vv. 24–25)

          C’ Father’s work with his people (vv. 26–27)

     A’ The Father and Son work together (vv. 28–29)

B’ Isaiah’s portrayal of Zion (Isaiah 54); search his words. (3 Nephi 2223:1–3)

The Prophet Micah. Image from Dore's English Bible (Wikimedia).

Conclusion

While Ludlow’s study of Christ’s sermon can’t be fully reproduced in this summary, his in-depth analysis helps demonstrate the thematic unity and the apparently intentional placement of Christ’s quotations of Isaiah and Micah. Ludlow’s findings illustrate the sophistication often present in the Book of Mormon’s use of biblical content.

Book of Mormon Central, “Why Did Jesus Mix Together Micah and Isaiah? (3 Nephi 20:25),” KnoWhy 214 (October 21, 2016).

Victor L. Ludlow, “The Father’s Covenant People Sermon: 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5,” in Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, ed. Andrew C. Skinner and Gaye Strathearn (Salt Lake City and Provo. UT: Deseret Book and Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2012), 147–174.

Victor L. Ludlow, “Jesus’ Covenant Teachings in Third Nephi,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon: Insights You May Have Missed Before, ed. John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1991), 177–185.

3 Nephi 20:10–23:5

3 Nephi 20:10–23:5

Footnotes
  • 1 In addition to intertextuality research conducted by Book of Mormon Central, this chart relies on data from Victor L. Ludlow, “The Father’s Covenant People Sermon: 3 Nephi 20:10–23:5,” in Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, ed. Andrew C. Skinner and Gaye Strathearn (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2012).
  • 2 Ludlow, “The Father’s Covenant People Sermon,” 147.
  • 3 Ludlow, “The Father’s Covenant People Sermon,” 147.
Complexity
Intertextuality (External)
Isaiah/Micah in 3 Nephi
Book of Mormon

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