Was Nephi a real person?

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
User avatar
LDS_Scoutmaster
Posts: 267
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 23:30
Location: SoCal

Was Nephi a real person?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 20 Mar 2019, 15:50

It's a rhetorical question I guess.

I've come to the point that I have moved from defending the BoM as historically accurate and how I used to try to fit the lands into existing maps, to a general agnosticism. Is it possible that there were these people that came from the old world to the new? Sure. Are they the principal ancesters of the American Indians? Doubtful. (I know this is not stated in the BoM that they were the ancestors, I'm just comparing)

Part of this came on after reading the Bible cover to cover, and finding many of the same inconsistencies, that I felt the BoM had. The story telling seems to be just that, moral tales to help humans live better lives. Did Jesus exist? Probably. Are the stories written about him historically accurate or have they been imbellished? Possibly.

Whether or not Nephi was a real person is the same as whether or not Jonah was a real person and swallowed by a whale.

How has this affected my spirituality? I feel like I've become luke warm. Church-wise, for sure.

I recently renewed my TR, was able to honestly answer all of the questions (the church may not be the one and only way to god, but for me I could answer that the church is the only one for me [to paraphrase and simply my nuance] you get what I mean).

Anyway I feel like I'm rambling, that thought had been on my mind for a while and I'm feeling apathetic.

Thanks for letting me ramble disjointed and incomplete thoughts.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5413
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by SamBee » 20 Mar 2019, 16:46

It depends which Nephi you mean. There are several after all. :crazy:

In some senses it doesn't matter if the Nephis were real. It's all about what you get out of the Book of Mormon. Some people believe they were real and don't get much out of it. Some people believe they were fictional and do.

Theoretically you could have someone who thinks the Book of Mormon characters are real but the story's skewed (interestingly in a couple of parts of the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites speak for themselves and provide a very different perspective, which is in my view one of the cases in favor of it being a real document.) In an extreme version of this idea, then you could say the BOM is biased like parts of the Bible, which would make parts of it better than others, and not equally inspired.

Likewise, there are even some people who think the BoM is entirely fictional, who nonetheless admire it as a work of literature, and even derive inspiration from it.

Myself, I have had spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon I find hard to explain. But it doesn't matter a hill of beans to me if it is the record of an ancient civilization or not. They could find Laban's sword or curelom skeletons but that wouldn't be the important thing. Or they could find sweet nada. It's what the BoM and the stories of Nephi(s) mean to me in the present day which counts.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 1443
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by dande48 » 20 Mar 2019, 19:12

Personally, I don't believe Moses ever existed. Or if he did, his whole identity and story got twisted far beyond any recognition, and none of the biblical stories about him hold much more than a sliver of truth. As with the Book of Mormon, yes, I believe there is some truth in it. For example, I believe King Zedekiah was a literal person... but that's about it. With Jesus, I believe he was a real person, but I also believe he is probably the most misunderstood character in all of history. I don't think he was distorted as much as "whatever-moses'-origins-were", but I don't think most would recognize him today.

For example, it's like with Star Wars. It speaks to our souls. It holds "eternal truths". But it is also a work of fiction. Does that make it any less valuble? I'd say no. It might even make it more valuble, that we recognize it as a fiction, because it can speak to each of us differently. So let's say there's a group of people who love Star Wars but recognize it as a fiction. Then lets say a cult pops up who believes the events in "Star Wars" actually happened, and are trying to reconnect with the "force". Let's also say they teach mostly good things, but also some bad things, and a few pretty awful. All of it is based around the historicality of Star Wars. Then, there's a third group that believes "Star Wars" should be banned because of the second group. They claim the "Star Wars" cult is decieving people, and taking their money. While it might be good on some level, it also does plenty of harm, and any goodness would be better coming from elsewhere.

I think those are akin to the three groups of people people fall into with the Book of Mormon, or even the Bible. Or at least they fall somewhere inbetween. I feel like I'm in the first group, while the Church is the second group. The third are the anti's. While I agree with most of the premis behind the third group, but I don't want to wreck the meaning behind the "fandom" of the second group. They've got some cool insights, even if I don't agree with most of it. It gives meaning to them, and I try to be ok with it... unless they start hurting people, in which case "not cool!". But I'm still not comfortable giving them money, or participating in rites that require a profession of belief. "Do you believe Master Tarogth to be the chief among Jedi, and the only living being capable of exercising the force in all it's power and glory?" Some could dance around that question, but I've gotta say "no".

Still, I wish to and want to fanboy about the BOM and Bible. I just don't want to be fully associated with the literalness of belief in the second group.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5413
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by SamBee » 21 Mar 2019, 03:20

The trouble with Star Wars is that it is utterly commercial and what spiritual messages it has are undermined and destroyed by the fact that the makers of the films are so obsessed with making money out of every last detail.

Star Wars is to spirituality what the Spice Girls are to opera.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

User avatar
Holy Cow
Posts: 303
Joined: 10 Nov 2014, 17:07
Location: Las Vegas

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by Holy Cow » 21 Mar 2019, 08:05

SamBee wrote:
21 Mar 2019, 03:20
The trouble with Star Wars is that it is utterly commercial and what spiritual messages it has are undermined and destroyed by the fact that the makers of the films are so obsessed with making money out of every last detail.

Star Wars is to spirituality what the Spice Girls are to opera.
Unfortunately, I could say the same thing about religion. There are plenty of people out there, who just use religion as a money-making scheme. I can turn on my TV any Sunday morning and find half a dozen different TV Evangelists urging people to send in their money.
My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6139

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1736
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by On Own Now » 21 Mar 2019, 08:24

I would like to reorganize the Star Wars Universe, counting everything after ESB as apostate and the work of a fallen prophet.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3999
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by mom3 » 21 Mar 2019, 13:09

I would like to reorganize the Star Wars Universe, counting everything after ESB as apostate and the work of a fallen prophet.
Amen.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 6742
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Mar 2019, 13:45

SamBee wrote:
21 Mar 2019, 03:20
The trouble with Star Wars is that it is utterly commercial and what spiritual messages it has are undermined and destroyed by the fact that the makers of the films are so obsessed with making money out of every last detail.

Star Wars is to spirituality what the Spice Girls are to opera.
Not surprisingly, I disagree. There's the other thread about finding truth elsewhere (or everywhere). There is truth in Star Wars (and Dickens and Tolkien and Poe and Mozart and....). There are people here who would argue that this church and/or others are really about making money - and there's some truth there as well. Just because it's "for profit" doesn't mean there's no truth (prophet) in it.

Back to the OP. My view of the BoM is very similar to my view of the Bible. I think most of the Bible is "fictitious" (or not literal) but conveys a moral message. I don't believe Jonah was real (or at least the literal fish part), I'm pretty sure Job is actually a sort of compilation story that's really several people some of who are not real (maybe none are), I'm not sure Moses was real (nor that the Jews were held captive in Egypt), etc. That doesn't mean I don't get the same meaning from all of those stories that someone who literally believes them does. In my mind such is the BoM. It's a good book that teaches of Jesus Christ and and and does bring people closer to God and their Savior. To me whether or not Nephi or the Lamanites or anyone else int he book are real are immaterial - that doesn't mean it's immaterial to others. I respect that others need to have the literal belief and "need" to know that it took place in a specific part of the Americas (wherever that may be), and can only hope that they can have the same respect for my belief that I have for theirs. That said, I have no need to "flaunt" my belief - I can keep it quietly to myself content that we both benefit from our beliefs.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 1443
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by dande48 » 21 Mar 2019, 14:00

SamBee wrote:
21 Mar 2019, 03:20
The trouble with Star Wars is that it is utterly commercial and what spiritual messages it has are undermined and destroyed by the fact that the makers of the films are so obsessed with making money out of every last detail.
If it's popular, someone will try make a fortune off of it. But people still do find spiritual enlightenment from it. People find spiritual enlightenment in a lot of things. And people can, and have, churned a religion out of just about everything. But no matter how messy, complicated, or even corrupt its origins can be, doesn't mean people can't pull a lot of value, meaning, and purpose from it.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

User avatar
LDS_Scoutmaster
Posts: 267
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 23:30
Location: SoCal

Re: Was Nephi a real person?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 21 Mar 2019, 14:56

I totally get the Star Wars analogy. I similarly associate many things in life, ie Force to the Spirit, midichloridans to the priesthood etc.

I thought about Moses as well when I started writing, as well as others. There are so many similarities with other fables.

If someone at one time believed that the SW saga were actual events, and no longer feels that way, it would affect the way they then feel towards all aspects related to and associated with it.

I guess I need to figure out my goal. What is the point of asking all these questions, is it to break myself out of this apathy? I like deep philosophical thought and challenging questions, yet I don't take enough time to thoroughly explore them.

I appreciate everyone's input on the site. Often I read and don't comment for lack of time, or other distractions. If I had more time.... Always more time... And cranial capacity.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

Post Reply