'Skin' or 'Scales' of Blackness? Semitic Context as Interpretive Aid for 2 Nephi 4 : 35 (LDS 5 : 21)
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies
University of Illinois Press
As mentioned before, there is a history of interpretation in the Mormon tradition that has viewed “skin of blackness” in 2 Nephi as referring to spiritual darkness. My proposal contributes to this history by adding Semitic precedent in favor of this type of interpretation. My agenda here is not to critique Joseph Smith’s rendering of the text as it currently stands in the Book of Mormon or to claim that the prophet translated the received material incorrectly. Rather, as someone who believes in the Book of Mormon as scripture and that God speaks through scripture in multiple ways, my goal is to open up and expose the multifaceted readings available in the sacred text. I believe that this is of special importance in the current racial climate that exists both in the larger Mormon community and in the United States as a whole. We would all do well to redirect our attention again to the scriptures and remind ourselves of Nephi’s proclamation that the Lord “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 11:114; LDS 26:33).