Out of the Dust : An Examination of Necromancy as a Literary Construct in the Book of Mormon
Studia Antiqua : The Journal of the Student Society for Ancient Studies
Religious Studies Center, BYU
Because it is commonly interpreted as a prophecy of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, Isaiah 29:4 is a foundational scripture within the Latter-day Saint faith. However, one exegetical interpretation of this passage suggests necromancy is a thematic literary element. The definition of ancient necromancy carries greater literary weight than normally colloquially understood by Latter-day Saints, and uncovering the proper context and traditions through a literary interpretation establishes an interesting metaphor of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Furthermore, defining the literary components harnessed by the original writers to exhibit YHWH's elevated cultic status, as compared to proclaimed "foreign" religious practices, is essential in this discussion. Finally, theorizing that these literary elements are congruous with Book of Mormon passages would suggest that a reinterpretation of scripture in Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni is requisite. Indeed, the metaphor goes far beyond the basic concept of necromancy, thus providing a new perspective on ancient traditions and concepts. These ideas include: that the text itself is purported to speak out of the ground, that the necromancer has a very specific role, and that YHWH's involvement in ancient Israelite court revelation is preeminent.