Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Stray Thoughts from Reading the Book of Alma and into Helaman

July 20th, 2012 by G.

Is Abish one of the mothers of the stripling warriors?

The relentless warfare of the book of Alma pushes the Nephites into a warfare of stratagem and tricks. Even, in the person of Teancum, of assassination. The text recognizes that this kind of warfare is novel and offers justifications for it. After the Alma wars are over, we almost immediately get the first Gadianton robber outbreak in Helaman 1 and 2, who try to take power by stealth and assassination. (They are also foiled by stealth and assassination: Helaman’s servant worms his way into Kishkumen’s confidence, concocts a story about helping Kishkumen to assassinate Helaman, then murders him.). What we are looking at is social breakdown, typical after prolonged wars, and disorder exacerbated by the new techniques and ruthlessness of wartime applied to domestic politics. Kishkumen and his group may even be war veterans. This is a typical historical pattern. It isn’t one that the Book of Mormon text is aware of. The Book of Mormon shows us plausible post-war politics without ever making the connection. I don’t want to push the point too far, since the Alma warfare got started with double-dealing and conspiracy, but it does seem that the post-war scene is far more brutal and underhanded.

The Lovely One pointed out that Helaman’s servant in Helaman 2 is never identified, even though he is arguably as much a hero as Teancum was. Probably we are seeing some kind of class or lineage divide at work. We are all aware that Ammon converted King Lamoni through service. But if Ammon did it by crossing a class divide, it adds a new dimension to the story.

Comments (1)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , , ,
July 20th, 2012 08:59:51
1 comment

J. Max Wilson
July 20, 2012

Really great insights. Thanks, Adam!

Leave a Reply