Are You Listless?
A New Revelation About The Book of Mormon
There are two puns in this title. The first one is "Are You Listless?" because the subject deals with a form of Hebrew poetry called lists. If you are listless in the normal sense you are indifferent or apathetic. If you are listless in the sense of this article then you do not know about Hebrew poetry lists; and if you do not know about Hebrew poetry lists then you do not know about Hebrew poetry; and if you do not know about Hebrew poetry then you do not know about the Hebrew nature of the Book of Mormon; and if you do not know about the Hebrew nature of the Book of Mormon then you have missed a great part of what the Lord has been doing for the Book of Mormon in the last few years; and if you have missed all that then you may very well be spiritually listless due to lack of nourishment. The revelation about lists promises to provide much nourishment to Book of Mormon believers.
The second pun is the word "revelation" because the revelation about lists comes from a study of the Book of Revelation entitled In Search of The Biblical Order by J. M. Cascione. This book is copyrighted in 1987, therefore, the revelation about lists is fairly new. What the author discovered was that:
- The book of Revelation is a Hebrew book and not a Greek book.
- The book of Revelation is full of Hebrew poetry lists.
- Every book of the Bible has Hebrew poetry lists.
- The length of the list determines the subject matter.
These findings are of great importance to the Book of Mormon and to Book of Mormon believers as the Lord is once again showing us that he is preparing the way for taking the Book of Mormon to the world under the endowment. By bringing forth new information about the ancient Hebrew nature of the Bible and the Book of Mormon the Lord is "growing together" the Bible and the Book of Mormon in preparation for restoring the covenants to the house of Israel (2 Nephi 2:20-23; see Recent Book of Mormon Developments vol 2, 1992:115) and the restoring of the covenants goes hand in hand with the endowment (1992:34-39).
What is probably the most important part of this study by Cascione is the discovery that the length of the list determines the subject matter. This discovery by Cascione is obviously of very recent date and for that reason we presume unknown prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. This discovery will also be of help in our own personal study of the Book of Mormon as well as in missionary work. Cascione deals with lists of two, three, four, five, six, seven, ten and twelve items. The subject matter of each length list is taken from Cascione's book as are the examples from the Bible.
"Two" symbolizes the word of God in all its aspects, "how it is sent, communicated, confessed, witnessed, testified, described, received, believed and obeyed" (Cascione 1987:59).
If thy children will keep
and my testimony
that I shall teach them ...
... they preached
and the truth
according to the
spirit of prophecy
and revelation ...
Notice in the Book of Mormon example that there are two lists of two referring to the word of God in one verse.
"Three" speaks about God, heaven, responses to God, like cursings, or praise, and responses from God such as warnings, curses and blessings.
That they may know from the rising
of the sun and from the west
that there is none besides me.
I am the Lord
and there is none else. Isaiah 45:6
Being filled with great joy because of
the resurrection of the dead
according to the will
of Jesus Christ from the bands of
death. Alma 2:21
"Four" refers to "mankind, human activity, earth, the creation or created things" (1987:3).
... and worship him
that made heaven
and the sea
and the fountains of waters.
shall be blessed. 1 Nephi 5:257
A list of five "symbolically covers the gamut of human emotions and human experience" (1987:81). In Revelation it is most often associated with suffering and tribulation. There are also some sets of five concerned with joy and happiness.
Wherefore laying aside
and all guile
and all evil speakings
1 Peter 2:1
... most abominable above all other
which slayeth the saints of God
yea, and tortureth them
and bindeth them down
and yoketh them a yoke of
and bringeth them down into
captivity. 1 Nephi 3:140
"Six symbolizes the process of creating or characterizes the nature of what is created, not the created thing itself" (1987:93). The negative side of six symbolizes destruction. God created the world in six days. The only thing Satan can do is destroy. Negative six symbolizes Satan. 666 is Satan's attempt to be God (three speaks about God).
And saying, Alas, alas, that great
city that was clothed
in fine linen
and decked with gold
and precious stones
and pearls! Revelation 18:16
This example from Third Nephi 4:69 is an example of negative six, and in this case the subject matter of the fist is given in the verse matching the subject in Cascione's book.
... death and destructions
and by smoke
and by tempests
and by whirlwinds
and by the opening of the earth
to receive them
and all these things ...
Note that this is a list with a total and all these things." The total counts as part of the list making this a six-part list.
"When God (three) and man (four) meet, the result is always judgment (seven)" (1987:51). God either blesses in sevens or condemns in sevens. Cascione gives Revelation 7:9 as an example of this pattern. An example of this pattern in the Book of Mormon is:
... he manifesteth himself unto all
they that believe in him, by the
power of the Holy Ghost;
Yea, unto every nation
Working mighty miracles,
among the children of men
according to their faith.
2 Nephi 11:78-79
Another example from the Book of Mormon is the famous reference found in Alma 14:103-104 which encourages us in our Book of Mormon work. If we do the first four things then God guarantees the last three things:
Yea, he that
and exerciseth faith
and bringeth forth good works
and prayeth continually without
unto such it is given to know
the mysteries of God
yea, unto such it shall be given
to reveal things which never
have been revealed
yea, and it shall be given unto
such to bring thousands of
souls to repentance ...
"Ten"-part lists speak about completion. They form a complete description or total range of a particular subject. Cascione gives Revelation 2:2-3 as an example of a ten-part list. A Book of Mormon example is Moroni 10:10-12.
For behold, to one is given by the
Spirit of God that he may teach
the word of wisdom;
And to another that he may teach
the word of knowledge by the
And to another exceeding great faith;
And to another the gifts of healing by
the same Spirit.
And again, to another that he may
work mighty miracles;
And again, to another that he may
prophesy concerning all things;
And again, to another the beholding
of angels and ministering spirits;
And again, to another all kinds of
And again, to another the interpretation
of languages and of divers
kinds of tongues.
And all these gifts comes by the Spirit
of Christ ... Moroni 10:10-12
"Twelve"-part structures speak about the church. Cascione's example is in Revelation 7:4-8.
Alma 11:25 says "And the establishment of the church became general throughout the land . ." This gives us the subject for the following twelve-part list found in Alma 11:29.
Now those priests which did go forth
among the people did preach
and all manner of lasciviousness ...
Although this list is a negative list, if these things exist and are not checked, the church will die. By preaching against these things the priests built up the church.
Information like this as well as all the other recent Book of Mormon developments are not only given for our enjoyment and to strengthen our faith but are given to alert us that now is the time for us to exercise our stewardship over the Book of Mormon. May your association with the Book of Mormon never be listless again.
Cascione, J. M. (1987). In Search of the Biblical Order, Biblion Publishing, Fairview Park, Ohio.
This article taken from the Zarahemla Record issue 60, March/April 1992.