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"Now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words which I have written, which have been spoken by the mouth of Isaiah. For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews." (2 Ne. 25:1.)

Just a little more than 100 years had passed between the time Isaiah finished his writings and Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. In scriptural history, that was not considered a long time.However, as Nephi noted, at that early date, the Nephites already had difficulty understanding Isaiah. The main source of this difficulty was that they knew "not concerning the prophesying among the Jews."

Monte S. Nyman, in Great Are the Words of Isaiah, wrote:

"Nephi provided a three-pronged formula for comprehending Isaiah's writings: (1) understand `the manner of prophesying among the Jews'; (2) be `filled with the spirit of prophecy'; (3) and live in the days when the prophecies of Isaiah are fulfilled. [See 2 Ne. 25:1, 4, 7.]

"Applying one or more of these approaches will help us in searching the words of Isaiah, and we can thereby gain understanding - although it will probably come `line upon line' and `precept upon precept,' as Isaiah defined the process of receiving revelation (Isa. 28:10)."

Nyman noted several ways through which one may learn of the "manner of prophesying among the Jews." The Book of Mormon is the best single commentary available on the book of Isaiah, said Nyman. The Old Testament itself is another source, as are the New Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants.

Of Nephi's second part of the formula, Nyman wrote: "The spirit of prophecy and of revelation comes through searching the scriptures and through much prayer and fasting. . . . Latter-day Saints also have the inspired words of modern-day prophets and apostles to help them interpret the writings of Isaiah."

Of the third part of the formula, Nyman noted that Latter-day Saints have a particular insight into Isaiah's prophecies that have been fulfilled. He said, for example, that non-LDS scholars are still pondering the meaning of Isaiah 29, which mentions a "book that is sealed."



Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by Gerry Avant

Sources: Interview with Elder Hugh W. Pinnock; The Old Testament: A Mormon Perspective, by Glen A. Pearson; and Great Are the Words of Isaiah, by Monte S. Nyman.