Plain and Precious Things: The Temple Religion of the Book of Mormon's Visionary Men

Rated 4.75/5 based on 4 reviews
Nephi's small plates are a time capsule from the sixth century B.C., containing a "loser's eye view" of religion that strongly contrasts with the ideology of the Jerusalem establishment of the time. Lehi's dream and Nephi's interpretive vision are visionary-literary accounts of the two ordinances at the heart of the worship of Lehi's 'visionary men.' More

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About D.J. Butler

D.J. Butler (Dave) is a novelist living in the Rocky Mountain northwest. His training is in law, and he worked as a securities lawyer at a major international firm and inhouse at two multinational semiconductor manufacturers before taking up writing fiction. He is a lover of language and languages, a guitarist and self-recorder, and a serious reader. He is married to a powerful and clever woman and together they have three devious children.

Dave has been writing fiction full-time since 2010. He writes speculative fiction (roughly, fantasy, science fiction, space opera, steampunk, cyberpunk, superhero, alternate history, dystopian fiction, horror and related genres) for all audiences. He has written and is writing novels for middle grade, young adult and adult readers. He has literary representation and is working on getting published in hard copy; in the meantime, he is entertaining readers with Rock Band Fights Evil. Dave has always had a soft spot for good pulp fiction.

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Also by This Author


Kevin Klein reviewed on May 3, 2012

This book presents a compelling answer to the question that many LDS readers like me have wondered: "If temple worship is so vital to the eternal gospel, how come it's not directly described or advocated in the Book of Mormon?"

Dusting off the book-as-journey analogy, we travel in _Plain and Precious Things_ through the history surrounding ancient and meridian-of-time Palestine, through significant moments in Christ's ministry and several famous passages of Book of Mormon scripture.

I liked Butler's identification of "visionary men," a term he gives (as I understood it) to temple-conscious, anti-establishment groups who often separated themselves for purity-of-worship's sake--e.g. Qumran and Lehi's family. While historically based, the designation adds a literary quality to the book's human subjects.

I was impressed by the fascinating, adroitly-argued connections linking temple imagery between ancient Old World texts and Book of Mormon passages. I found some of these links more creatively constructed than others, but I appreciated that Butler clearly identifies when he's speculating.

Speaking of whom, going back to the book-journey metaphor, my greatest admiration is for our guide. He's taken a complex subject and informally yet authoritatively walked readers through it. Compared to the daunting, exhaustive treatise this easily could've been, Butler's book approaches readers and the Gospel with good-natured, big-hearted affection--one of the qualities I seek most in my spiritual traveling companions.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Karen Evans reviewed on April 21, 2012

I was drawn to this book because of my love of the scriptures, and more specifically, the Book of Mormon. Dave's approach of leading us through his thoughts to a conclusion is very readable, and I found myself unable to put the book down before I'd read beginning to end. It is definitely an exercise to approach with your own scriptures open.

I feel that I have come to understand the Old Testament so much better after this analysis of visions in the Book of Mormon.
(reviewed 46 days after purchase)
David Marchant reviewed on March 26, 2012

I found the book very interesting. It was well written and contained a basic concept that I had not heard about before. I was intrigued by the concept and by the end of the book I am more at ease with the concept and would like to know more. I would have liked to see a bibliography at the end with more specific information but I realize that the way the book was written it would have been a little disruptive to the flow of the logic to have lots of references. Now that I am going through it a second time I would have liked more references. I recommend this book to those that want to expand their views on interpretation of the Book of Mormon as written by a faithful believer.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Nathan Shumate reviewed on Feb. 29, 2012

My good friend Dave Butler (who, after seeing my example, was unable to resist the draw of initial initial in his name for this release) has done the LDS world an inestimable favor in publishing Plain & Precious Things; reading it has me honestly excited about rereading the Book of Mormon for the first time in decades.

Dave (“Can I call you ‘D’?”) reaches astounding insights by simply taking Nephi at his word: that the small plates of Nephi were written specifically to restore the “plain and precious things” which were being and would be removed from the Hebrew scriptures before they got to us. By comparing the doctrines of God espoused by Lehi, Nephi, and their successors with the contemporary reforms being instituted by royal authority in 2 Kings, Dave shows the existence of at least two schools of religious thought at the time: the reformers/redacters who are presented as the establishment heroes of 2 Kings, and the “visionary men” — the prophets outside of the establishment structure, of which Lehi was an example.

With the guiding insight that much of the worship of the “visionary men” centered on the ordinances of the temple, Dave draws compelling subtext from the two visions at the heart of Nephi’s record — Lehi’s dream of the rod and the tree, and Nephi’s visionary experience in seeking the interpretation of that dream — that shows a deeper criticism of the reforms which led to the loss of those plain and precious things and a reverence for the symbols and ordinances of God’s house. Beneath Joseph Smith’s pseudo-KJV diction, there is a world of inspired belief and worship that has almost been lost, overwritten by King Josiah’s faction in their zeal to jettison all doctrine and worship that didn’t fit their “cleaned-up” version of Judaism.

I heartily encourage all LDS seekers of truth who thought, as I did, that there was nothing additional for the Book of Mormon to teach them to spend the pittance to get get this ebook and feast upon it.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
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