Matthew Bowen’s latest contribution regarding the Book of Mormon’s frequent use of wordplays involving personal names is found in a new publication at The Interpreter. See Matthew L. Bowen, “Messengers of the Covenant: Mormon’s Doctrinal Use of Malachi 3:1 in Moroni 7:29–32,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 111-138. Here is an excerpt from his introduction:
Jesus’s transition to and introduction of
Malachi’s prophecies constitute perhaps the clearest juxtaposition of
a proper name with its corresponding etymological meaning anywhere in
scripture: “Thus said the Father unto Malachi [malʾākî, ‘my messenger,’ or ‘my angel’] — Behold, I will send my messenger [malʾākî; or my angel], and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant [malʾak habbĕrît; or angel of the covenant]” (3 Nephi 24:1).
significance of this onomastic juxtaposition was not lost on Mormon. He
employs language that recalls Malachi 3:1 (3 Nephi 24:1) when he
expounds the doctrine of the ministering of “angels” (Hebrew malʾākîm,
see especially Moroni 7:29–32) and their role in the fulfillment of
divine covenants. This he does as part of a wider exposition of the
necessity of faith, hope, and charity (Moroni 7). In this article,
I will examine the meaning of the name Malachi (malʾākî) and
its doctrinal importance in the respective contexts of the canonical
book of Malachi and in 3 Nephi 24. I will also compare the language of
Malachi 3:1 (3 Nephi 24:1) and Moroni 7:29–32 to determine the nature
and degree of Mormon’s use of the former. And finally, I will show how
Malachi 3:1 (3 Nephi 24:1) and Mormon’s use of this text enhance our
understanding of the nature and function of the ministering of angels.
Bowen’s analysis of the scriptural use of the term “angel” shows that in some cases, Christ or Jehovah is actually classified as an angel, as appears to be the case in Malachi 3:1, where the messenger of the covenant appears to be the Lord. The language in 3 Nephi 24 where Christ recites Malachi 3, with an aptly worded introduction, along with Moroni’s appear reworking of concepts from that section of the text, appear to artfully reflect an awareness of the Hebrew words behind our English translation, giving us some interesting wordplays.
I am especially intrigued by Bowen’s discussion of the role of Isaiah 51:9-10 in understanding themes related to the topics of his paper More on that later.