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“Encircled About Eternally in the Arms of His Love”: The Divine Embrace as a Thematic Symbol of Jesus Christ and His Atonement in the Book of Mormon

Title“Encircled About Eternally in the Arms of His Love”: The Divine Embrace as a Thematic Symbol of Jesus Christ and His Atonement in the Book of Mormon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBowen, Matthew L.
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
Volume59
Pagination109–134
KeywordsAbinadi (Prophet); Alma the Younger; Amulek; Enos (Son of Jacob); Jacob (Son of Lehi); Jacob/Israel (Son of Isaac); Lehi (Prophet); Mormon (Prophet); Nephi (Son of Lehi); Wrestle
Abstract

This study builds upon Hugh Nibley’s insightful observation that several Book of Mormon passages reflect “the ritual embrace that consummates the final escape from death in the Egyptian funerary texts and reliefs” as expressing the meaning of Christ’s Atonement. This study further extends Nibley’s observations on Jacob’s “wrestle” as a divine “embrace” to show that Lehi’s, Nephi’s, and their successors’ understanding of the divine embrace is informed by their ancestor’s “wrestle” with a “man” (Genesis 32:24–30) and reconciliation with his brother (Genesis 33:4–10). Examples of the divine embrace language and imagery throughout the Book of Mormon go well beyond what Nibley noted, evoking the Psalms’ depictions of Jehovah whose “wings” offered protection in the ritual place of atonement. Book of Mormon “divine embrace” texts have much to teach us about Jesus Christ, his love, the nature of his Atonement, and the temple.

URLhttps://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/encircled-about-eternally-in-the-arms-of-his-love-the-divine-embrace-as-a-thematic-symbol-of-jesus-christ-and-his-atonement-in-the-book-of-mormon/