Goodly Parents

Here’s something to consider when reading 1 Nephi 1:1.

"Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days."

Ben Spackman (a PhD student at Claremont, studying history of religion and science, with a focus on issues of fundamentalism, literalism, creationism, and evolution) provides the following interpretation:

"This is a long-standing argument among a few bloggers, including me. In the first few verses, Nephi explains that, because his parents were ‘goodly,’ he was taught not just to read (very unusual in the ancient world) but to write (even more unusual), and moreover, to write in two scripts or languages (depending on how we understand the ‘Egypt’ reference). That degree of learning is much more dependent upon Lehi’s financial status than his goodness. Context thus favors the interpretation of ‘well-off.’ The (weaker, in my view) counter-argument comes from dictionaries, which don’t list something like ‘well-off’ as a meaning, so it would be fairly idiomatic usage there in 1Ne 1:1.