Question: On one hand Nephi says that in order to understand the things of the prophets one must understand “the manner of the things of the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:5). On the other hand he says, “I have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness” (2 Nephi 25:2).
Once one gets past 2 Nephi, not a whole lot relatively speaking is quoted from Isaiah until we get to Jesus. This makes me wonder if the knowledge of Jewish methodology in interpreting Isaiah gradually died out over the years. If so, why do you think that was? It seems to me that they could have distinguished the methodology for interpreting scripture, which seems good and important, from the “works” of the Jews which were objectionable.
Hundreds of years later, Jesus then told them the necessity of searching the words of Isaiah. I would very much appreciate Dr. Gileadi’s assessment of this situation where on one hand it is necessary to be taught the manner of the Jews and on the other hand not so much. I think this is confusing to some.
Answer: There is no indication that the Jewish “manner” or methodology was not important to know or use at any time. Book of Mormon prophets use it throughout the book—(1) with their rhetoric or use of words and word links; (2) with typology, in using less than a hundredth part of their history to foreshadow end-time events; and (3) literary structures, with dozens of chiasms and other sophisticated literary devices to convey their prophecy and theology—all requiring diligent searching or analyzing the text before ever the book’s “greater things” are laid bare.
As for the “works of darkness” of the Jews, that statement is too often used by Latter-day Saints as an excuse for not keeping Jesus’ commandment to search the words of Isaiah diligently. It would be easy to see how Isaiah’s use of codenames or aliases of persons and nations might lead to devious activities conducted under false fronts or as a way of identifying fellow members of a Gadianton faction. However, without knowing Isaiah’s codenames or aliases one can never understand Isaiah’s end-time message and the prophecies within his prophecy that reveal it.