The book “The Sealed Portion: The Final Testament of Jesus Christ” written by Christopher Nemelka in 2004 purports to be the sealed portion of the gold plates alluded to in the Book of Mormon. In addition, it contains the re-translated lost 116 pages of the Book of Lehi. Nemelka claims to have received divine authority from the resurrected Joseph Smith to translate the sealed portion because the current LDS faith no longer teaches Christ’s true doctrine.
It is difficult to say whether Nemelka believes that he has actually translated the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon or whether he is simply conducting a social experiment to prove to current members of the LDS church that Joseph Smith was just some guy who made up some book by plagiarizing the Bible, and that anyone could have written a work like the Book of Mormon. I believe the latter hypothesis, because members of the LDS church often justify their belief in the Book of Mormon based on conclusions such as “I don’t believe someone as uneducated as Joseph could have written a 500+ page book referencing scriptures and introducing profound doctrines.” Nemelka unsuccessfully attempts to replicate Joseph Smith’s accomplishment in translating the Book of Mormon by ticking all of these criteria that many LDS members use to strengthen their faith.
The book is identified as Moroni’s abridgment of the vision given to the Brother of Jared in the Book of Ether when he sees a vision of the Lord. In the vision, the Brother of Jared sees a multitude of Gods, learns about the true story of the creation of the world, is shown visions of Jesus’ ministry, and many other diverse topics. It is a lengthy vision (574 pages) that starts off well trying to mimic the language of the Book of Mormon, but writer’s fatigue quickly takes its toll within a few pages as common scriptural phrases are substituted for a less than graceful vernacular. A not-so-careful reading of the text, and especially what Nemelka claims is the re-translated lost 116 pages of the Book of Lehi, show that this book is clearly fraudulent and should not be taken seriously by LDS church members. Nemelka, however, should be given credit for the amount of time he must have spent on the project and for his willingness to provide a free pdf version of the book online at https://archive.org/details/TheSealedPortion.
THE BOOK OF LEHI
The appendix of The Sealed Portion contains a re-translation of the lost 116 pages of the Book of Lehi. Since this portion of the book is most easy to criticize, I will begin with a list of just some of the many errors, contradictions, and peculiarities found in the book. The list is hardly comprehensive, but only a few examples should suffice in disproving the book.
- Nemelka claims Lehi was a descendant of Ephraim. The Book of Mormon says he was a descendant of Manasseh. This should end the discussion immediately.
- “[Lehi’s lineage]…Judah, who was the son of Ephraim, who was the son of Joseph” (Lehi 1:11, pg. 600)
- “Lehi…who was a descendant of Manasseh” (Alma 10:3)
2. Nemelka claims that you do not need to be a member of God’s church or need to have the priesthood in order to speak on behalf of God’s people. This claim defies the entire message and purpose of the Book of Mormon.
- Lehi 1:49, pg. 602 =”Behold, it mattereth not unto the Lord whether or not a man belongest to this church, or hath the priesthood of Aaron as ye claim that ye have”
- Lehi 1:51, pg. 602 = “Behold, I [Zenock] am not a member of your church, nor do I have the priesthood that ye claim giveth you the power and authority to act in the name of God”
- Mosiah 18:17-18 = “And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church. And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God”
- Mosiah 23:17 = “And it came to pass that none received authority to preach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men”
- See also Mosiah 25:18-19 and Alma 15:13
3. Nemelka claims Lehi prays to be forgiven of his sins instead of praying on behalf of the sins of his people.
- Lehi 3:6, pg. 607 = “And Lehi cried unto the Lord that he might be forgiven for his many sins and that he might understand further what the Lord would require of him”
- 1 Nephi 1:5 = “My father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people”
4. Nemelka claims that Zenos and Zenock are stoned and then hung by the neck until they are dead. The Book of Mormon says Zenock was simply stoned. Stoning would most likely have killed the prophets and they would not have had to be hung.
- “And the people took Zenos and Zenock, and after they had stoned them, they hung them by the neck until they were dead” (Lehi 3:26, pg. 609)
- “and because the people would not understand his [Zenock’s] words they stoned him to death” (Alma 33:17)
5. Nemelka destroys Mormon’s carefully crafted linear narrative by consistently referring to events in the Book of Mormon hundreds of years before they happened.
- Referring to “Nephi’s record” before Mormon even tells us that Lehi has sons or that Nephi made plates: “And I, Mormon, cannot write all the words that the prophets Zenock and Zenos preached unto the Jews…And Nephi hath recorded upon his record all of the words that Zenos and Zenock spake” (Lehi 2:2, pg. 604)
- Referring to Nephites and Lamanites before giving any context about who or why there are “Nephites” and “Lamanites”, or even that he has a son named Laman: “And Zenos spoke of this land, which is a promised land unto the Nephites and also unto the Lamanites” (Lehi 2:14, p. 604)
- Referring to Jesus showing himself to the Nephites and Lamanites in the land of Bountiful: “like unto the glory that he showed unto the Nephites and the Lamanites in the land of Bountiful” (Lehi 2:16, pg. 605)
- Referring to Jesus preaching to Mormon’s ancestors: “Yea, what were the words that the Lord spake to my fathers, the Nephites? Were they not the same words that he spake unto the Jews at Jerusalem” (Lehi 5:27, pg. 617)
6. Nemelka destroys the purpose and beauty of the allegory of the olive tree (Jacob 5).
- Nemelka puts the millenium described at the end of the allegory right in the middle of his version: “And the wild olive branches are the Gentiles who shall have the gospel…there shall be peace for a time among them. And after a space of a time the trees of the vineyard shall once again bring forth corrupt fruit…and the gospel shall be given to the people on this continent as well as it was given unto the Jews at Jerusalem” (Lehi 2:12-14, pg. 604). See Jacob 5:76-77.
- Nemelka tells the reader that the allegory is about the destruction of the Jews at Jerusalem and the restoration of the gospel: “And Zenos prophesied in the parable about the destruction of the Jews…and the parable spoke of the restoration of the gospel among the Jews at the time of the coming of the Lord into the world” (Lehi 2:10,12). It is actually about the lord fulfilling his covenant in gathering the house of Israel in the last days (Jacob 6:2-4).
- Nemelka claims that the allegory suggests there will be many other churches or trees who claim to be “the pure olive tree” that the Lord grew in his vineyard (Lehi 2:15). The allegory says nothing of churches or anyone pretending to be a “pure olive tree,” which is a phrase not used in the entirety of the scriptures. The “tame olive tree” represents the literal house of Israel (Jacob 5:3).
- The allegory of the olive tree is about the Jews coming to accept the Savior in the last days. Nemelka claims it is meant to show that the leaders of the church in the last days will become corrupt and must be corrected so that the olive tree can return to its original state (Lehi 2:22)
SOME OF THE MANY PECULIAR QUOTES: The Book of Mormon deserves credit where credit is due. It is an extremely well-written and carefully constructed narrative that seamlessly crafts Biblical symbolism into its complex narrative even before the 3,000 textual changes following the first edition. Nemelka, who had unlimited time, resources, education, etc., could only produce this contradictory mess of a narrative full of poorly utilized Biblical phrases and contradictory doctrines (see my previous posts on linguistic consistencies between the Book of Mormon and the Bible). Here are some examples of the language used by Nemelka’s book:
- “This Nephi did because his older brothers had threatened to confess to the Jews that their father was foolish, and also because of their desire to once again be part of the people at Jerusalem” (Lehi 4:7, pg. 611)
- “And Nephi believed the words of the Spirit, he having had many such manifestations in his youth and many presently, therefore he could feel the sanctification of the Spirit of that which he was about to do” (Lehi 4:16, p. 612)
- “Knowest thou not that I am even at this time ripe with child and that I will deliver this child in the wilderness? And my daughters; what shall they do when they are grown and have no man to choose from to be a husband? Shall they be single and barren all the days of their lives and perish in the wilderness?” (Lehi 4:37, p. 613)
- “And it came to pass that one of the sons of Ishmael, being of great strength, even of a strength greater than that of many men, began to have compassion on Nephi, and also compassion on his mother who he loved with all of his heart. And also Ishmael, being bent over with great age, did plead with his son to help Nephi. And this son of Ishmael, and his name was Barhanas, did take a hold on the brothers of Nephi, and with his exceedingly great strength, restrained Laman and Lemuel from murdering their brother” (Lehi 4:64, pg. 615)
- “Nevertheless, I, Mormon, do not write in this record all of the dreams and visions of Lehi, for they are many. But of one dream I do write in this abridgment. And I write this dream because of its exquisite beauty and symbolic representation of the goodness and the greatness of the love of God. And also because of its prophetic meaning concerning all of the children of men from the beginning of time to the end thereof” (Lehi 5:5, pg. 616)
- “Oh my beloved brothers and sisters, read his words. Ponder his gospel and pray for understanding. Your church meetings, your ordinances, your genealogies, your tithes, your offerings, your temples, your churches, your rituals, and your prayers are not sanctioned by the Lord or His Spirit, because all of these things cause you to reject and deny the true gospel of Jesus Christ” (Lehi 5:28, pg. 618)
- “And the daughters of Nephi were greatly desired by many of the sons of Laman, Lemuel, and also by the grandsons of Ishmael. Nevertheless, they were very wise in their youth and wanted no man until they were old enough to choose for themselves by their own wisdom” (Lehi 7:6, pg. 623)
- “For behold, the church of God will not always be righteous. Yea, it will not always follow the commandments of God and will suffer itself to become corrupt through the craftiness and wickedness of men. For this reason the Lord calleth prophets who are not members of the church of God, who are sent to preach repentance unto the church. Nevertheless, these prophets have no authority from God to lead the church, which hath been set up according to the lower law of Moses, which Jesus Christ fulfilled during his earthly ministry among the Jews” (Lehi 7:35-36, p. 625).
THE SEALED PORTION
While I do not have time to evaluate the entire sealed portion, I would like to cite excerpts from select verses to show just how much of a misfire Nemelka’s project is. One need not conduct a word-print analysis to see that the author who wrote the Book of Mormon is not the author of the sealed portion. Below are some randomly selected gems that highlight words, phrases, doctrines, and situations that have no in the Book of Mormon style or other Biblical works.
- “And the Lord instructed them, saying: Nevertheless, ye shall not divulge any portion of the truth regarding the way in which Eve was tempted and lost her power over death and was cast out of the garden of Eden. For behold, these things shall not be known by any man except it be unto those whom I choose to reveal them. And I, Moroni, would that ye should know that unto some the truth of these things was revealed. And this truth hath been corrupted and changed over the course of the history of the children of men. For some have written concerning a fallen angel who came down upon the earth and enticed the daughters of men to engage in sexual intercourse” (TSP 15:5-6)
- “And Lucifer became incarnate, and took upon himself one of the bodies that he found best suitable for that which he was wont to do. And the desire of Satan was to go into the garden of Eden and entice Eve and cause her to obey the eternal laws of the Father that he might take the glory upon himself. And Satan designed a type of ship in which he traveled over the many waters. And when he reached the land in which was centered the garden of Eden, he continued his travels up a large river of water until he came upon the borders of the garden of Eden. And the Lord did not stop Satan from doing that which he was wont to do, and this because of the law of free agency” (TSP 15:24-27)
- “And Satan touched Eve in a manner that Eve had never been touched before. And when he touched Eve, she was surprised and astonished at the feeling that it caused to come over her. And Satan said unto her: Knowest thou not that these feelings that thou art experiencing at this time are those blessings that the Father hath given unto thee that thou mightest partake of the joy of which He partaketh? And Eve answered him, saying: I do not know about the feeling of joy of which our Father hath spoken, for I have not yet experienced this joy in all things. But in the things that I have experienced, I do not know what joy I should feel. And Satan said unto her: When I touch thee in this way, doth it not give unto thee the feelings of joy? And these feelings are the only way that thou canst comply with all the commands of the Father. For did not the Father command thee and Adam to multiply and have joy in your posterity? And how can ye have joy in something that ye do not have? And Satan enticed Eve, and showed unto her the pleasures of which he had spoken. And Satan took Eve and showed unto her the way that the other animals, that were like unto him, whose body Satan had possessed, produced their offspring” (TSP 15: 31-35)
- “And those who are weaker spirits, and who have chosen their desire of happiness as that of a Terrestrial and Telestial state and would not have been able to handle the hardships of mortality, yea, even many of these are living in the last days before the coming of the Lord in his glory, even when the power of Satan hath taken away many of the vicissitudes and hardships of life and given unto them things that were forbidden to come forth in the days of the hardships of their ancestors” (TSP 8:31)