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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: The Great & Marvelous Change by Clifford P. Jones

Reading non-fiction is often a challenge for me, but when Clifford P. Jones, author of The Great & Marvelous Change, asked me if I would consider reviewing his book, I decided to take on the challenge.

Shortly after Christ's death and resurrection, he spoke to Lehi's seed, describing the marvelous change he had wrought: the law of Moses was fulfilled, death was conquered, and the faithful could inherit eternal life (see 3 Nephi 9:13-22). His words evoked hours of astonished silence. Later, thousands of those who had heard his sayings gathered at the temple to marvel and wonder about "the great and marvelous change which had taken place" (3 Nephi 11:1).

This book explores the intriguing possibility that the multitude went to the temple to learn more about the Atonement--the greatest and most marvelous change in time and eternity--and that Jesus Christ came to them to reveal the knowledge they sought.

Jones presents a convincing argument that the Nephite people who were present when the Savior visited the Americas after His Resurrection were there to discuss the Atonement and not the destruction that occurred at the time of the Crucifixion. The bulk of the book explores some theories held by students of The Book of Mormon that may be incorrect, and gives many examples regarding wording, timing, traditions, etc.

While parts of The Great & Marvelous Change definitely made me think more deeply about the setting just before the Savior came, I have not had issue with why the people were gathered together. Readers who have studied the existing theories will probably find Jones' arguments enlightening.

Even though Jones is definitely pushing for his theory, I appreciated the inclusion of sentences like this:

"Of course, no evaluation will be sufficient to identify Mormon's intended meaning with complete certainty for readers." (page 76)

The Great & Marvelous Change wasn't a "page turner" for me, but it seemed to be well researched. And whether you accept Jones' theory or not, The Great & Marvelous Change is a good reminder of the importance of accepting the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in each of our lives.