Sunday, December 8, 2013

Book of Mormon Word Usage: Survive

Both uses of the term survive appear in the writings of Mormon. The first instance is in the Words of Mormon:
it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people. But may God grant that he may survive them, that he may write somewhat concerning them, and somewhat concerning Christ (Words of Mormon 1:2)
Here Mormon hopes that his son, Moroni, will outlast the destruction of his people. The second time the term is used is in a similar context though a slightly later date:
And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me. (Mormon 6:11)
Mormon got his desire: his son did outlive the destruction of his people and did write concerning Christ. Elsewhere Mormon explains to his son his rationale:
Behold, thou knowest the wickedness of this people; thou knowest that they are without principle, and past feeling; and their wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites.

Behold, my son, I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me.

But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will spare thy life, to witness the return of his people unto him, or their utter destruction; for I know that they must perish except they repent and return unto him. (Moroni 9:20–22)
It may be of some significance that the word survive appears only twice in the Book of Mormon. For the most part, the Nephites were worried about whether they would prosper in the land (e.g. 1 Nephi 4:14) not whether they would survive at all. The term prosper does not occur in either the books of Mormon or Moroni. Neither writer sees it as a viable option for his people. Survival, not prosperity, is their hope and their concern.