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Lesson 13 - Churches in the Wilderness

TitleLesson 13 - Churches in the Wilderness
Publication TypeManual Lesson
Year of Publication1957
AuthorsNibley, Hugh W.
Manual TitleAn Approach to the Book of Mormon
PublisherThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Place PublishedSalt Lake City
KeywordsAlma the Elder; Apocalypticism; Church of Anticipation; Recordkeeping; Wilderness

As outcasts and wanderers the Nephites took particular pains to preserve unbroken the records and traditions that bound them to their ancestors in the Old World. Special emphasis is laid in the Book of Mormon on one particular phase of the record; namely, the care to preserve intact that chain of religious writing that had been transmitted from generation to generation by these people and their ancestors “since the world began”. The Book of Mormon is a religious history. It is specifically the history of one religious community, rather than of a race or nation, beginning with the “people of Nephi” who became established as a special minority group at the very beginning of Book of Mormon times. The Nephite prophets always preached that the nation could only maintain its integrity and its very existence by remaining a pious religious society. Alma founded a church based on religious traditions brought from the Old World: it was a Church in the Wilderness, a small group of pious dissenters who went forth into the desert for the purpose of living the Law in its fullness. This church was not unique among the Nephites; other “churches of anticipation” flourished in the centuries before Christ, and after Christ came many churches carrying on in the apocalyptic tradition.