> Moroni talks about teachers and priests.  This is several
> hundred years after Christ, so the Nephites had the Melchizedek
> priesthood at that time and were not under the law of Moses.

True enough. I was referring to earlier, pre-Resurrection references to 
teachers and priests. But you bring up an interesting point:

> Several of the Brethren have stated that since the Nephites were
> not Levites they never did have the Aaronic priesthood even when
> under the law of Moses.

I did not realize this, having never heard these statements; but now 
that you mention it, it seems pretty obvious that the Nephites would not 
have had the Levitical Priesthood. Duh.

The Moroni reference is interesting. The term "priest" itself implies a 
Priesthood office, and Moroni 4-5 show that priests as well as elders 
could consecrate the sacrament, which as far as I know is purely a 
Priesthood function. Furthermore, Moroni 3 talks about the *ordination* 
of priests and teachers, the identical wording (or the same ideas, if 
the prayer is not meant to be verbatim) used in each, suggesting that 
both "priest" and "teacher" were Priesthood offices.

Since the Nephite post-Resurrection office of priest had the authority 
to administer the sacrament, it's tempting to say that those two offices 
were identical to the Aaronic Priesthood offices of "priest" and 
"teacher" that we have today. However, your mention above of the 
teachings of our leaders, which I assume to be correct (do you have an 
actual citation(s)?), demonstrates that the Nephites were not in 
possession of the Aaronic Priesthood; so if "teacher" and "priest" were 
in fact Priesthood offices, as seems likely, they must have been offices 
in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Other possibilities? Maybe the Nephites had some other type of "lesser 
Priesthood", similar to our Aaronic Priesthood, and these were offices 
in that other Priesthood. Seems farfetched, but I have heard others talk 
about what they term "the Patriarchal Priesthood" as a separate thing 
from the Melchizedek Priesthood, or more correctly a subset of it. I 
have done no study of this issue, and the argumentation I've heard on it 
is most unconvincing; but if such a thing actually existed, then it's 
possible there was yet another Nephite Priesthood subset, similar to the 
Levitical/Aaronic and the Patriarchal.

Another idea, one that to me seems more likely: If Joseph's use of the 
term "ordain" in translating Moroni 3 is taken more broadly, maybe as 
synonymous with "set apart", another possibilitiy presents itself. 
Perhaps "priest" and "teacher" did not refer to 
administrative/functional capacities that today we call "offices". Maybe 
they were more akin to what we today would term "callings", like "ward 
missionary" and "gospel doctrine teacher". The "elders" of the Nephite 
church in later times referred to the "disciples", meaning specifically 
the leaders selected by Christ, or the "virtual apostles" of the 
Nephites. Maybe all Nephite Priesthood leaders were called "elder". In 
that case, Moroni's statement that the elders or priests administered 
the sacrament would be like saying that the Church leaders or 
sacrament-administrators (i.e. those specifically authorized to 
administer the sacrament) took care of that ordinance.

All speculation, of course; but knowing that the Aaronic Priesthood did 
not exist among the Nephites, and without further historical 
information, it may be the best we can do.

> They further state (IIRC) that they could officiate in the
> ordinances of the law of Moses through the authority of the
> Melchizedek priesthood.

This makes sense. Since the Aaronic Priesthood is a part of the higher 
Priesthood, it is reasonable that any holder of the higher Priesthood 
could officiate in a duty of the lesser Priesthood.


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