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The Three Four Pattern in the BOM


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Even though you haven't yet received any responses. I didn't want you to think the thread wasn't being read.

Very interesting.

I have heard that the numbers 7 and 12 also have significance in biblical text. Is that true? And if so, is there a connection with the 3/4 you point out (i.e. 3+4=7 and 3*4=12)?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Hello Wade:

Great questions that definitely need further exploration. Most of the references to time sequence in the Hebrew Bible involve the number seven. In creation, the first and fourth day form a pair (light/celestial bodies), the second and fifth day (water and sky/fish and fowl), and the third and sixth day (the earth and the flora/the animals on the earth and man). This creates three distinct literary units with the fourth being the climatic Sabbath. :P

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Interestingly, the Book of Mormon begins with a reference to the three-four pattern in the context of divine preference for the youngest son over his siblings. Nephi, the prophet whom God chooses to serve as “a ruler and a teacher” over his brethren, appears in the beginning of the Book of Mormon as the fourth son of Lehi (1Nephi 2:5,22).

That is more than interesting.

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To me, this type of "literary device" only makes sense if the stories in the Bible are made up or significantly altered by the chronicler(s). So, to me, this type of parallel is a proof of the Book of Mormon being, at best, inspired fiction. If Nephi was a real dude, the fact that he was a fourth son would have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on what the biblical chroniclers chose to do.


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King Folly:

If Nephi was a real dude, the fact that he was a fourth son would have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on what the biblical chroniclers chose to do.

The point is that this is the very type of evidence that would be convincing to an ancient audience. I agree that it isn't as impressive to the modern mind, but your statement that it would have "no bearing whatsoever" is clearly modern and not ancient. An ancient writer would be shocked at such an assertion. Of course God would make sure that the pattern worked - else what are patterns for?

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This reminds me of one of my favorite Primary songs:

Numerology, I am doing it,

My numerology....

And the reason why I am doing it,

Is very clear to me...

Finding patterns, in all sorts of things,

Is what we like to do,

Our brains skip over... parts that don't fit,

And emphasize the parts that do...

Just having a little fun, there. It does seem interesting.

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For those interested, I found this in the Jewish Encyclopedia ( http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp...id=366&letter=N )

The following numbers occur in Hebrew literature either as symbols or as round numbers:

Two: Used in the sense of "a few" in Num. ix. 22; I Sam. xi. 11; Hos. vi. 2; Ned. 66b (comp. the Talmudic rule, ).

Three: The sacredness of this number is probably due to the fact that primitive man divided the universe into three regions

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Dear King:

My theory is that the three-four pattern was a biblical literary device that developed from actual historical events. As you correctly suggested, there are clearly segments of the Hebrew Bible which present information or a story in the three-four pattern that we westerners would feel lacks historicity.

Therefore, I believe that as a result of this well-established tradition, (I only provided a few of the many examples presented by Zakovitch) those possessing an ancient oriental mindset would have seen divine intervention in Nephi

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Are you being intentionally obtuse?

Somewhere in your thesis, I'm hearing something to the effect of "the fact that Nephi is a 4th child is a proof that the Book of Mormon is true." If I'm wrong about that, I apologize. Otherwise, all I can do is politely disagree. To me, personally, the fact that Nephi is a 4th child is more of an evidence that the BofM is fiction (since Joseph was also the 4th named child) than an evidence that it's true.

He's saying that the B of M follows a known ancient literary pattern which would have made too and been authoritative for and ancient mind. Nephi probably knew the pattern and adapted it to further his claims, just as he was obviously aware of the tales of the exodus and intentionally patterned his narrative with allusions to that one.


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To me, personally, the fact that Nephi is a 4th child is more of an evidence that the BofM is fiction (since Joseph was also the 4th named child) than an evidence that it's true.

I certainly do not believe that this proves the historicity of the Book of Mormon or that the 3 4 pattern beyond all doubt even intentionally appears in the BOM. It is simply a connection that I find interesting to consider. In my mind, nothing of this nature establishes the truthfulness of the BOM. Also, wasn't Joseph Smith the third son? Or do you refer to some other Joseph?

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The parallels to the Smith family are not seen so much in direct representations as in more subtle emotional profiles.2 For instance, Joseph’s older and younger brothers Hyrum and Samuel are much like Laman and Lemuel to the extent that, in Joseph’s emotional language, they “rebelled” against the authority of Joseph Sr.’s dreams and joined the Presbyterian church--even though, in the Book of Mormon story, Laman and Lemuel are older than Nephi. One might see Joseph’s two older siblings, Hyrum and Sophronia, in the same light, the latter also having joined the Presbyterian church. Nephi and Joseph occupy the fourth position among their siblings in their respective families, although again somewhat differently. Nephi was the fourth of Lehi’s sons, but nothing is said concerning the ordering of his sisters (2 Ne. 5:6). Joseph was the fourth of Joseph Sr.’s sons only if one includes the unnamed infant who died before Alvin’s birth. At the same time, Joseph was the fourth of the living Smith children. One important difference exists in that Alvin died before the family became fractured. Regardless, Joseph’s decision to write about a family that was seriously divided over the meaning of its patriarch’s dreams is significant.

:P<_<:unsure: You call this significant?

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