Joseph Smith lecturer Grant Hardy takes on historical context in Book of Mormon

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Kaitlin Broyles ~ Multimedia Journalist

“When there are disappointments in life and things don’t always turn out the way people expect, it is what I called a crisis of expectations, and Nephi shows us how to come to deal with that,” said Grant Hardy, the guest speaker at the Joseph Smith Lecture Series, Nov. 11 in the HGB.

Students and administration said they gained new insight and appreciation for Second Nephi, where Hardy did most of his citing and received most of his insight presented at the lecture.

“Second Nephi is scripture for grown ups,” said Grant Hardy. “Second Nephi can teach us how to read scripture.” He said he enjoys it and wants everyone else to enjoy it as well. “Second Nephi is an awesome book of scripture,” Hardy said. He also recommended people shouldn’t skip it, but rather, read it very carefully.

Hardy gave his personal examples of what a close reading of Second Nephi can do when he explained the difference between a crisis of faith and a crisis of expectations, the difference between salvation history and the plan of salvation, and the validity of God’s promises in his own due time.
 
“Hold onto the promise of the Lord, deliverance may not come right away,” said Dallin Arno, a Canadian freshman studying business management, after attending the lecture. Arno said he gained new insights from the lecture about Second Nephi he had not considered before.

Arno said he was most interested in the relationship between Nephi and Jacob. “Nephi got a lot of direction from his younger brother. It shows Nephi’s submissiveness and the unity that they [Nephi and Jacob] have,” Arno said.
 
Keith Lane, the Religion Department chair at BYUH, was a part of bringing Hardy to campus, and said he was glad he put forth the effort. Lane said he learned new ways of looking at the scriptures, and the Book of Mormon in particular. “You can do a regular cover-to-cover reading without thinking about the text or you can stop and think about who’s writing and when they are writing,” Lane said.
 
Arno said he also felt he understood and appreciated the historical significance of the Book of Mormon writers and said he learned “reading between the lines and thinking outside the box a little more, taking things into context and historically trying to add up the dots,” is important. That’s not the only way to read the Book of Mormon, said Hardy, though he did make it an important point. Lane said he learned readers can ask questions to help get a deeper look at the text. “The more you ask questions, the more you look closely at the text, the more you can understand the context, and the more you can understand what is given to us,” Lane said and encouraged student to ask questions.
 
Hardy said in preparation for this lecture he took the Reader’s Edition of the Book of Mormon and broke it down into sections. Hardy said, “I put it [the text] into paragraphs and put quotation marks and put some in poetry and separated it out into sections so you could see who is speaking.” Hardy said when he did that it was easier to see when Nephi was speaking versus when Jacob was speaking in Second Nephi.

“The structure alerted me to look a little deeper and find the story that is going on behind the words,” Hardy said.