If you don’t think of Genesis 1–2 when you read Alma 32, you’re missing powerful Creation imagery that emphasizes fundamental Christian teachings.
In an article published in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Hebrew Bible scholar David E. Bokovoy argues that Alma’s metaphor of growing a seed is a deliberate effort to invoke literary themes of the biblical Creation story.
The events of Genesis 1 emphasize God’s word as Creator. Genesis 2 focuses on his physical planting and shaping. Speaking the word and planting the seed are the backbone metaphors of the Creation account. Alma capitalizes on this understanding in many ways, all of which would have been obvious to his audience as descendants of Israel.
For example, an angel cast Adam and Eve out from before the tree of life for disobeying God’s word (Genesis 3:22–24). But we can partake of the “fruit of the tree of life” if we do not cast out God’s word—a seed that can grow into that very tree (Alma 32:40–41).
After God created the earth in its fulness, he gave it to mankind to cultivate (Genesis 1:26–28). In the same way, God has given us his word, but it is our choice whether or not we will nourish it (Alma 32:37–38).
Bokovoy gives many more examples of Alma referencing the biblical accounts of Creation and Eden. When we understand Alma’s parallels to Genesis, we can see how powerful both accounts really are.
Read David E. Bokovoy’s full article, “The Word and the Seed: The Theological Use of Biblical Creation in Alma 32.” Access by subscription only.
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Source: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
—Jonathan Jibson, Mormon Insights
Photo courtesy of Hans Braxmeier