05 October 2006

Abraham Part II: Depth & Breadth of Knowledge

...continued from Part I:

Abraham tells us, in reverse order, what he desired, how he went about obtaining it, and what it brought him:


"…desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God…"
There are several interesting points here:

1) Abraham seems repetitive: he mentions "great knowledge" and then "greater knowledge." The difference Abraham saw between these two gifts is possibly explained in D&C 42:61:
"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal."
In other words, Abraham wanted to understand what was already understood by the prophets of God and the sages of the world, but he also wanted to extend his understanding beyond what was already known. (We see in Chapter 3-5 some of the fulfillment of this wish.)


Robert C. said...

Thanks for bringing this structure to my attention, I hadn't really thought about this very carefully. I think it makes for a profound parallel with Nephi's desiring to understand Lehi's dream. And Alma 12:10 seems to also complement this idea of receiving more b/c of a desire to learn more (in contrast to receiving less if we don't receive that which we have--what does a gift profit us if we don't appreciate it as the D&C asks...).

BrianJ said...

Robert C: yes! thanks for pointing those out to me. Nephi's experience stands out to me because there he is, asking for a vision---who does that sort of thing?---and he not only gets it, but he seemingly gets a much, much "bigger" on than his father. (That last point is conjecture, or is there some evidence for that?).

Regarding Alma 12---we recently had a FHE on those chapter in Alma. I love the story of Zeezrom (to whom Alma is speaking in 12:10) because he really has a change of heart, and Alma totally forgives him.

Anonymous said...

Nice observation. I can't help thinking "a greater knowledge" has a qualitative, as well as a quantitative difference from "great knowledge".

Abraham's idolatrous father may have had "great knowledge" without having "a greater knowledge" of the greater things of Christ and the Kingdom.


BrianJ said...

KJTW: Your point about qualitative v. quantitative is a good one. I will incorporate that into my final post. Thanks!

Robert C. said...

Brian, I'm finally getting around to reading your Abraham series here. In rereading this post, I'm wondering about what you seem to be implying with the phrase "greater knowledge." I've always read this as Abraham simply wanting greater knowledge than he currently had, but you seem to be suggesting he wanted greater knowledge than others had received. Am I misreading you? If not, do you mind elaborating a bit on why you believe the comparison should be with other prophets?

Thanks again for highlighting this repeated use of the term "greater" in this verse, I feel I'm just scratching the surface as to its significance.

BrianJ said...

Robert C: I'm very glad you made it back; I've come to value your opinion and ideas. Here is my thinking:

Abraham wants to be "one who possessed great knowledge." Who would he identify as those with great knowledge (the group he wants to "join")? I assume he meant the prophets and sages of the world (note that I am not limiting it to prophets only).

I suppose he might have been admiring the knowledge of the local engineers and artisans, but that seems like settling for Abraham.

So he says he wants to be like the prophets/sages, then he says, "and to possess a greater knowledge." I take that to mean that once he has become one of the "greatly knowledgeable" he wants to have even greater knowledge.