Abish

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While reading about Abish last night (see Alma 19), I couldn’t help think about her situation.

When she was younger, her father had some sort of vision, which was significant enough to convert her to Christianity. Despite her new-found faith, however, she kept it hidden. I imagine it was because of the consequences she assumed would befall her once her people found out she was following the Nephite religion.

That must have been tough for her.

18 thoughts on “Abish

  1. I wonder why Mormon identifies her by name even though she has such a minor role to play. To be one of four women named in the BoM (not including Old Testament women), Mormon must have been really impressed with her.

  2. When Abish is introduced, the scripture says that she had been converted by “a vision of her father.” It does not say “by a vision that her father had.” I think we can credit Abish with having had her own vision of either her earthly or her Heavenly Father. As current NDE research makes clear, such things do happen all the time.

    I have twice published essays on why the story of Abish is prominent. One (with my wife sharing the byline) is in the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon vol 10, n2, “Nephite Feminism Revisited” and the other is at the Meridian Magazine here:

    http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/051229plain.html

    Basically, since these chapters contain the single most detailed account of individual women’s actions and words in the entire Book of Mormon, there must be a reason. I find the reason in the “type scene” as Robert Alter would have it. The story points both backward to anient myth and forward to the Passion of Christ.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  3. “I think we can credit Abish with having had her own vision of either her earthly or her Heavenly Father.”

    An excellent point I had not considered. Thanks, Kevin.

    At the same time, “a vision of her father” could also mean the same thing as “her father’s vision”.

  4. I think that’s so odd and surprising, that Kim assumed Abish did not have a vision but had relied upon a vision her father had.

    Carol Lynn Pearson makes the same assumption in her essay “Could Feminism have saved the Nephites.” published in Sunstone.

    So does my beloved Brant Gardner in his excellent Book of Mormon Commentary A rare misstep or oversight on his part.

  5. It doesn’t explicitly state that she had a vision. It states she was converted “on account of a remarkable vision of her father”. It is far from an unreasonable assumption to interpret that “of” in this statement is used to make the vision a possession of her father (as I just did unintentionally).

    That being said, that’s not the point of my post.

  6. The part about this story that always gets to me is when she gets all the people together thinking they’ll see the power of God and instead want to slay Ammon. And she becomes “sorrowful even unto tears”. I can imagine her frustration and confusion at that point and her just thinking, “No, no, no! You just don’t get it!”

  7. Wow–kinda funny–

    Kim, a feminist, assumes that it was her father who had the vision. Myself, not a big fan of feminism, have always assumed that it was Abish who had her own vision.

    Interesting.

    As to the topic–

    That little story is like the BoM’s section 19, as it were. It opens up a wonderous can of worms.

  8. Um.. Kim isn’t a feminist if you go by this definition “belief in the necessity of large-scale social change in order to increase the power of women.” For other definitions, perhaps so, and myself as well. And I hope you realise Kim is also not a woman. But then I suppose men can’t be feminists. I just have never described him as such.

    However I don’t see how being a feminist would assume that Abish or her father had the vision. It’s interpretation of scripture is all.

  9. Why wouldn’t I assume it, Jack? The language does not indicate the vision was Abish’s. If anything, posession is more strongly indicated toward her father.

  10. “Kim isn’t a feminist if you go by this definition “belief in the necessity of large-scale social change in order to increase the power of of women.””

    How are you defining power?

  11. I know Kim’s a guy. I was trying to have a little fun but perhaps came across a little too cheeky.

    Kim, you could be correct in your assumption, but I think most would agree that it’s more common to associate that which follows the article “of” with the content of the vision rather than with the indiviual who had the vision.

    That said, what about the best part of my previous comment? That most profound and stunning insight? The Rosetta Stone that will unlock mysteries that even Solomon the Wise could not have divined?

  12. “it’s more common to associate that which follows the article “of” with the content of the vision rather than with the individual who had the vision”

    In our current usage of the possessive, maybe. But we also use the apostrophe-s combination.

    “That said, what about the best part of my previous comment?”

    It’s quite possible.

  13. “I know Kim’s a guy. I was trying to have a little fun but perhaps came across a little too cheeky.”

    Ok, I was just checking. :) Some people don’t know it. Nothing is too cheeky, we are Canadian. :)

  14. There’s some interesting insight in looking into how verse 16 has been translated into other languages.

    The German BoM makes it very clearly to be a vision had by her father (ihres Vaters)

    The Spanish translation is a bit more revealing. The 1980 version make it clear the father had the vision (que su padre tuvo). However, the revision in 1992 (the currently used) put it back into more neutral ground (vision de su padre). I’m not sure if this suggests that she had the vision more than it reflects a desire to be as close to the original as possible. At the very least though, it throws it back into ambiguous.

    French has the same as the later Spanish (vision remarquable de son père).

    These are the translations I had at hand. It doesn’t prove anything, of course, but it does shed some more light.

  15. It doesn’t really matter who had the vision. Jesus said, “Blessed is he who has not seen and yet believes.”
    Either way she must have had remarkable faith to have played such a major part in this remarkable story.

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