I’ve been studying the lineage of priesthood authority in the Book of Mormon. Why is priesthood authority and the ordination thereof never mentioned until Mosiah/Alma. Did Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, etc not have priesthood authority? Wouldn’t that be an important thing to clarify? Where did Alma (priest of Abinadi) receive his authority to baptize? Can you please shed some light on this subject?
Bryce, from West Jordan, Utah
In the first place we are talking in the Book of Mormon about two different documents. The books of the Book of Mormon up until the Book of Mosiah were written principally by Nephi and Jacob. They were maintained as a separate document, were handed down with the other sacred records and were finally translated by Joseph Smith. They comprise what are called the Small Plates of Nephi, and contain the more spiritual record of their times, saying practically nothing about their wars and contentions. Nephi doesn’t specifically mention the priesthood authority of his father, Lehi, because he was known from the time they were in Jerusalem to be a prophet of God. Further, that information was undoubtedly contained in the Book of Lehi, which was part of the records that Nephi had, as mentioned by Nephi in 1 Nephi 6:1—
And now I, Nephi, do not give the genealogy of my fathers in this part of my record; neither at any time shall I give it after upon these plates which I am writing; for it is given in the record which has been kept by my father; wherefore, I do not write it in this work.
In Mormon’s abridgment of the Large Plates of Nephi, he does not go into detail about the priesthood authority that was given to Alma, but he does indicate in Mosiah 18:12-13 that Alma had received the priesthood authority—
And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world.