Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peripatetic Amlici

I research The Book of Mormon text from 4 different sources:
  • A well-worn printed copy of the 1981 LDS text in a standard triple combination
  • The online 1981 LDS text from
  • Royal Skousen's 2009 Yale University Press edition, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text
  • The 9 large books published to date (volumes 1, 2 in 2 parts & 4 in 6 parts) of Royal Skousen's critical text
Here is a visual of my workstation with all four sources illustrated.
4 complementary sources for researching The Book of Mormon text
The Christus statuette was carved for me by a terrific young LDS sculptor in Cochabamba, Bolivia. When I finally received the finished product, the hands had broken off in shipping. I consider the missing hands an apt metaphor for the role each of us play as we help build up the Kingdom of God upon the earth so the Kingdom of Heaven may come D & C 65:6.

For years, we have wondered who the mysterious dissident Nephite Amalekites were. They are mentioned 19 times in the text in Alma chapters 21 - 27 Alma 21:2 and chapter 43 Alma 43:6 without provenance.  Some characteristics of this bellicose group:
  • They lived among the Lamanites, built religious meeting houses and propounded a concept of deity somewhat more advanced than that held by their neighbors Alma 22:7.
  • Most of them were followers of Nehor Alma 21:4, Alma 24:28, the arch apostate who was executed ca. 91 B.C. for murdering Gideon Alma 1:15.
  • They vigorously opposed the missionary work being done among the Lamanites by Ammon, Aaron, Omner & Himni, the four sons of Mosiah Alma 21:5; the missionaries had almost no success among them Alma 23:14; yet their sanctuaries were often available as preaching venues Alma 21:16 following royal decree Alma 23:2.
  • They were often allied with the Amulonites, descendants of the 24 wicked priests of King Noah Alma 24:1, Alma 24:29.
  • They mixed church and state to such a profound degree that they took up arms, joined forces militarily with the Lamanites and went to war to effect regime change Alma 24:2 and exterminate humble believers Alma 24:28.
This all sounds like a highland Guatemalan version of the Amlicites and Nehorites in Ammonihah as described in Alma chapters 2 and 8-14. So, you can imagine my excitement when I learned from Royal Skousen's critical text that the word "Amalekites" should actually be "Amlicites" as attested by those fragments that remain of the original  Book of Mormon manuscript. See Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2007) Part 3, Discussion of Alma 2:11-12. This makes perfect sense. It explains why Nehor's legacy was so ubiquitous throughout Nephite and Lamanite-controlled territory. It explains why the Amlicites and Lamanites combined forces in a joint military invasion Alma 2:24-25 of the local land of Zarahemla. It explains how secessionist plotting Alma 8:17 could still be alive and well barely five years after a) the death of Amlici Alma 2:31, b) the death of  more than 12,500 Amlicites Alma 2:19, and c) repatriation of Ammonihah back into the Nephite political system Alma 8:12 after Amlici's short-lived and disastrous insurrection. And, it explains why ethnic Lamanites, when they realized they had been goaded by the Amlicites and Amulonites into murdering some of their own brethren, promptly retaliated by sending a military force northward to destroy the city and land of Ammonihah Alma 25:1-2, Nephite headquarters of the apostate and seditious Nehorite movement. Further, this explains what was really going on in the land of Antionum when the Zoramites became Lamanites Alma 43:6 and why the Nephites were so fearful of precisely that outcome Alma 31:4.

Here is a likely brief chronology of Nehor, Amlici and their followers:
  • Prior to 91 B.C., Amlici becomes a disciple of Nehor.
  • Prior to 91 B.C., Amlici leads a group of Nephite dissenters southward, establishes a relationship with the descendants of the priests of King Noah & establishes an institutional presence in the Lamanite lands of Amulon, Helam and Jerusalem Alma 24:1.
  • 91 B.C. The sons of Mosiah2 travel up to the lands of the Lamanites and begin their missionary labors. They are initially attracted to the ex-Nephite Amlicites as potential converts Alma 21:4.
  • 91 B.C. Nehor founds a church in Ammonihah, murders Gideon and is executed Alma 1:15 on orders from Alma2, chief judge of the Nephite nation.
  • 87 B.C. Amlici, now in Ammonihah, assumes leadership of the Nehorite movement among the Nephites, has himself crowned king, collaborates with his colleagues among the Lamanites, and mounts a disastrous joint Lamanite - Amlicite invasion of Zarahemla. Amlici is killed by Alma2 in battle on the west banks of river Sidon Alma 2:1-31.
  • 87 B.C. The term "Amlicite" is firmly established in the greater land of Zarahemla Alma 2:11 as it was earlier in the greater land of Nephi.
  • 81 B.C. Alma2 and Amulek preach to the people of Ammonihah,warn them of impending destruction, and are rejected. Amlicite - Nehorite attitudes still prevail in the land. Alma 15:15.
  • 81 B.C. The Amlicites in the greater land of Nephi take the lead in killing the Anti-Nephi-Lehies Alma 24:28.
  • 81 B.C. Ethnic Lamanites, chagrined that former Nephites have convinced them to slaughter innocent fellow Lamanites, take revenge on the Nephites by invading the greater land of Zarahemla and annihilating the people (Amlicites, Nehorites) in Ammonihah Alma 25:2.
  • 77 B.C. The Amlicites in the greater land of Nephi, angry that their brethren in Ammonihah were eliminated, and that their Lamanite proxies are no longer willing to attack Nephites, again make war on the Anti-Nephi-Lehies Alma 27:2.
  • 74 B.C. Amlicites, now in the land of Antionum with the Zoramites, again form part of a large Lamanite army Alma 43:6 bent on Nephite destruction.
  • 74 B.C. After a courageous fight Alma 43:44, but ultimate defeat by Captain Moroni and his forces south of Manti, the Amlicites are never mentioned again in the Nephite text.
A quick recap of relevant military actions:
  • Amlicites invade the land of Gideon and are defeated ca. 87 B.C.
  • Lamanites + Amlicites invade the local land of Zarahemla and are defeated ca. 87 B.C.
  • Lamanites invade the land of Gideon and are defeated ca. 87 B.C. 
  • Lamanites + Amlicites + Amulonites slaughter Anti-Nephi-Lehies in the local land of Nephi ca. 81 B.C.
  • Lamanites + Amulonites destroy Ammonihah ca. 81 B.C.
  • Lamanites + Amulonites defeated by Captain Zoram & sons south of Manti ca. 81 B.C.
  • Lamanites + Amlicites kill more Anti-Nephi-Lehies in the greater land of Nephi ca. 77 B.C.
  • Lamanites (presumably with Amlicites) invade the greater land of Zarahemla and are defeated in the largest battle ever fought by Lehi's descendants up to that point in time ca. 77 B.C.
  • Lamanites + Amlicites + Zoramites in the land of Antionum consider, then decide against invading the land of Jershon ca. 74 B.C.
  • Lamanites + Amlicites + Zoramites defeated by Captains Lehi & Moroni south of Manti ca. 74 B.C.