If my notes and markings are accurate, I’m on my 13th reading of the entire Book of Mormon.
I concur with what many proponents of scipture-reading say, that one gains new insights with each reading.
My reading schedule has coincided with the church’s Sunday School’s Gospel Doctrine class. I have read not only the reading assignments, but the entire work being studied in the assigned year. Though for the last few years, I have ignored the reading sequence given in the lessons, and read the work (OT, NT, BoM, D&C) simply from front to back.
Given that the OT is a big reading chore in itself, I usually take two years to read the Book of Mormon while also reading the entire OT and NT during those two years of the cycle. Then read the BoM again during the year the BoM is studied, and again during the year that the Doctrine and Covenants is studied. Hence, during the four year Sunday School cycle, I read the OT once, the NT once, the D&C once, and the Book of Mormon three times.
It wasn’t until about the seventh time through the Book of Mormon (and several times through the OT and NT) that I finally overcame the seeming disconnect in the Gospel between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
I’ve concluded that there is no disconnect. The seeming disconnect comes from our Western cultural tradition of “Mainstream Christianity” which has progammed into most of us a false dichotomy of a “Stern God of the Old Testament” versus a “Forgiving Jesus of the New Testament.”
Well, enough of this side point of how interleaving reading the Bible with the Book of Mormon helped to correct my false cultural concepts of the Bible, and properly bridge the Old Testament with the New. I suppose that should be another post.
During the last few times through the Book of Mormon I’ve come to realize how much is left unsaid. My earlier readings were spent soaking up so much good stuff, feasting on the meat, that I didn’t much notice what was left unsaid. Now, as I go over so much familiar material, sometimes with an impatient “yes, yes, I know, I know” attitude, I think of questions that the text doesn’t answer.
One of the principal figures who doesn’t have much detail filled in is Sam, third son of Lehi. I’ve come to think that he is sort of “damned by faint praise.” He’s not depicted as siding with Laman and Lemuel against Nephi, but then Nephi never describes Sam as coming to his aid.
Being older than Nephi, leadership could have devolved upon Sam, after Laman and Lemuel forfeited their right to leadership due to their disobedience. But Nephi never explains why Sam was skipped over.
So among the questions that are raised when I read these passages are: was Sam neutral in the Laman/Lemuel-versus-Nephi dynamic up until Lehi died? Or did he originally side with Laman and Lemuel, then switch and end up with Nephi? He at least ended up with Nephi and the “good guys” in the big split from the Laman/Lemuel faction, in 2 Nephi 5:6.
There are two clues. In 2 Nephi 1:28, Lehi is speaking, and he lumps Sam in with Laman and Lemuel, warning them that they must follow Nephi’s leadership. In verses 30 and 31, Zoram is mentioned as having been faithful and a friend to Nephi. This implies that Sam has been more aligned with Laman and Lemuel, because he receives the same warning/admonition they do, than with Nephi and Zoram. (I may be wrong in assuming this division, as the prophets generally warn the righteous as well as the wicked about obedience versus disobedience, and this instance may be more where Lehi is talking to family versus non-family.)
In 2 Nephi 4:11, Lehi again speaking, he promises Sam that he and his seed will inherit the land like unto Nephi, clearly associating him with Nephi, and implying that Sam has chosen to follow the Lord and recognize Nephi’s leadership.
So that’s one of the first questions I’ve come up with, what was the deal with Sam?
We’ve been promised in the scriptures that all mysteries will be revealed in the Millennium. I suppose that means that the Large Plates of Nephi, the 2/3rds of the Book of Mormon Plates that are sealed, and even the missing 116 pages will all come forth.