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Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:

Gossamer Thin: 2 Nephi’s “Flaxen Cord” and the Anti-Masonic Thesis

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Published by:
Interpreter A Journal of Mormon Scripture
Published:
12/14/2018
Specs:
Digest / 5.25" x 8.25"
44 pages Saddle-stitched
Category:
Religion
Tags:
2 Nephi 2622, anti-Masonic, Book of Mormon, church of jesus christ of latter-day saints, flaxen cord, lds, Masons, Mormonism

Abstract: Some have seen evidence of anti-Masonic rhetoric in the Book of Mormon and cite 2 Nephi 26:22 in support. It is claimed that this is a reference to Masonic initiation rituals, which feature a thick noose called a cable-tow or tow-rope. Examining 2 Nephi, the “flaxen cord” more likely refers to something slight and almost undetectable. To test this hypothesis, I surveyed the use of the phrase flaxen cord in 19th century publications and the Bible. I examine 50 examples, 7 of which are excluded because they do not contain enough information to support either claim. Of the remaining 43 examples, 67% describe a cord that is trivial or easily snapped, 7% denote a thick, strong rope, and 17% describe a thin rope that is strong. Given 1) the rhetorical context of 2 Nephi, 2) an expression that usually refers to a cord of trivial thickness and strength, and 3) virtually all poetic, scriptural, or allegorical manner uses imply fragility, the evidence overwhelmingly contradicts the anti-Masonic thesis.

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