Insight into Arnold Friberg's Book of Mormon paintings

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  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 23, 2012 7:57 a.m.

    @ Bill in Nebraska, You miss a very important aspect of DNA that is being used. That is that the Nephites were of the House of Joseph, not Judah. Judah is the commonly used as the JEWISH state. One can be of Hebrew descent and not be a Jew but a Jew must be of Hebrew descent.

    The term Jew originates in the Biblical Hebrew word Yehudi meaning "from the Tribe of Judah", "from the Kingdom of Judah, or "Jew”. Hebrew, from Gk. Hebraios, Heb. 'ibhri "an Israelite,"
    President Young, ”Can you make a Christian of a Jew? I tell you nay, If a Jew comes into this Church, and honestly professes to be a Saint, a follower of Christ, he will apostatize”. (JoD vol 2. P.142)

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 22, 2012 4:28 p.m.


    I'm not saying all paintings of Jesus just this particular one in this LDS man's home. Jeesh!

  • Poqui Murray, UT
    May 22, 2012 4:25 p.m.

    I loved the Friberg paintings when I was a kid. As I got older they didn't hold my attention that much.

    @garybeac - the lack of mention of winters or snow or cold places the setting in a MesoAmerican setting, additionally, we know that this was the only place where writing existed. So you won't see too many painting set in the US. Also, the Lamanites in the BOM are not all descendants of Lehi. Mathematically speaking, they outnumber Nephites + the people of Zarahemla 2:1. This is impossible for a hunter/gatherer society. Lamanites were mostly Amerinds who joined the descendents of Lehi in attacking the Nephites.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 22, 2012 4:10 p.m.

    To "LValfre" nice backtrack. Lets just remind everybody that you said " Jesus was most likely African or Middle-Eastern." Which is inaccurate as I pointed out.

    As for what you saw in paintings about Jesus only saving white people, again, that is a lie. There is an old painting that shows Jesus with a group of people of various ethnicities and from various eras.

    I don't know what you think you saw, but apparently it has been tainted by your desires to find something wrong.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 22, 2012 1:51 p.m.


    More of a middle-eastern jew so probably had their depictions. I didn't explain it enough ... the pictures I saw of jesus saving humanity was white only .... not a single other race in the picture. This was probably purchased pre 1978 in their house ... if you know what I mean. They were a little older.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 22, 2012 11:49 a.m.

    To "LValfre" Jesus was a Jewish man. What color of skin do you think the Jewish people have? Last I checked the Jews were predominately white.

    If you are dealing with a group of white people, wouldn't it be historically accurate to depict them as white?

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2012 9:53 a.m.

    I must first admit, I've never been much of a fan of Mr. Friberg's illustrations, from a strictly artistic perspective. While very interesting and often beautiful, they have always struck me as a bit too overt and obvious in their heroic portrayals. Almost cartoonish.

    However, having lived in Sweden and knowing how utterly Scandinavian is the name "Friberg", I should have guessed that such a background might be at least part of the reason his characters, their attire and even boats have a distinctly Nordic/Viking flavor. I can see very little of the Pre-Christian Mediterranean influence I had expected for such a topic.

    But, it wasn't until reading this article and learning that his parents were from Sweden and Norway that the connections became clear.

    Thanks for the article and the insight.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 22, 2012 9:15 a.m.


    I agree. I've seen Mormon inspired artwork in members homes full of white people. Jesus was most likely African or Middle-Eastern. I prefer realistic work depicting how things really were, not a member's "ideal" of what he's hoping Jesus looked like.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 21, 2012 10:30 p.m.

    graybeac: You miss a very important aspect of DNA that is being used. That is that the Nephites were of the House of Joseph, not Judah. Judah is the commonly used as the JEWISH state. One can be of Hebrew descent and not be a Jew but a Jew must be of Hebrew descent.

    We have no rational as to what the DNA is of a member of the House of Judah. To try and say where the Native Americans come from is all a hope not fact. Saying they came across the Bering Strait is a hope, not fact at all. Science has not proven there was a land bridge there. However, science has proven that all of the continents were connected at one time. Stop trying to waiver on the truth of the Book of Mormon to the facts not the hypothisis.

  • garybeac Chapel Hill, NC
    May 21, 2012 8:39 p.m.

    As a 14-year-old convert I was grateful for Friberg's illustrations. They validated my new religion with what appeared to me to be an historical context. My family was not persuaded. As I grew older I came to view the Friberg pictures negatively. Being bookish, I saw these muscle-bound men as the fantasies of brutes and bullies. So I like this idea of their being Friberg's "inward vision." It gives me a rationale for liking his art again. Still, I think a new artist needs to step forward to illustrate the Book of Mormon. Thanks to DNA studies we now know that the Amerindians came from Central Asia and, at any rate, aren't at all Semitic. Replacing the Central- and South-American flora and fauna with temperate-zone species would go a long way towards squelching the folk doctrine that Native Americans are fallen Lamanites. I think the well-documented but as-yet-unlocated geological catastrophe of AD 536-537 holds our best hope of discovering the Book of Mormon's setting. Until then, how about making it look like an island off the coast of New York?

  • MiP Iowa City, IA
    May 21, 2012 8:34 p.m.

    A great book deserves great paintings. Thanks Mr. Friberg.

  • JohnInSLC Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 21, 2012 4:46 p.m.

    I've always appreciated Friberg's depiction of emotion in those paintings, but one thing always nagged me. Growing up in deserts, to me the high mountain waterfall depicted in the background of the "Waters of Mormon" painting, even in the tropics, did not seem realistic. Years later, while driving along Kauai's north shore into Hanalei, I saw a waterfall coming off the high slopes of Mt. Waiʻaleʻale. Mr. Friberg had it right.

  • Lone Star Cougar Plano, TX
    May 21, 2012 1:20 p.m.

    Hi Red C.,

    If you can't say anything nice...

  • Nanook of the North Camarillo, CA
    May 21, 2012 11:16 a.m.

    I grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. The museum there is called the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. It opened in 1978, with Prince Charles at the ceremony. I remember being in our high school band, attempting to play O Canada and God Save The Queen, but it was something like 20 degrees below zero outside, and our instruments kept freezing up.

    Anyhow, one of the first things you see as you enter the museum is a massive (7'x8') portrait of Prince Charles, painted by none other than Arnold Friberg. (You can see an image of the portrait at the website So I was introduced to his work a good 2-3 years before I was introduced to the Church, and to the Friberg paintings reproduced in the Book of Mormon. A great artist.

  • hc1951 Bend, OR
    May 21, 2012 10:09 a.m.

    Since I married my second husband, a large & muscular man, I often joke I have my own, personal Friberg :-)

  • Lindy-Lou San Antonio, TX
    May 21, 2012 9:50 a.m.

    (How do I change "San Antonio, TX" to "Cedar Hills, UT"?) I, too, love Friberg's paintings. I've always heard his name pronounced "FREE-berg" but recently I've heard some folks say "FRY-berg" Which is correct? Lindy-Lou, Cedar Hills, UT

  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 21, 2012 9:24 a.m.

    I love his paintings. As a kid I'd gaze at the amazing paintings. I think my favorite has to be Abinadi. Those cats are great. The one of Christ's coming is great too.

  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    May 21, 2012 9:22 a.m.

    Thank you for this information. Bro. Friberg's paintings are indeed an inspiration. I appreciate knowing how he arrived at the physical portrayal of the men and women of the Book of Mormon. Indeed, it fits so well to know that he was painting the internal "picture" of these men. So aptly expressed that he was painting the power it took to accomplish what they did so long ago. I giggled a bit when I considered the power of Pres. Brigham Young and what Arnold might have done to his portrait.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    May 21, 2012 8:42 a.m.

    Minerva Teichert had created a large catalog of paintings if scenes from the Book of Mormon before Friberg began his project, but they were not widely publicized at the time. Her most viewed work is the World Room mural in the Manti Temple.

    The story also omitted the fact that Cecil B. Demille hired Friberg to design costumes and sets for The Ten Commandments because he had seen the early Book of Mormon paintings. The practice Friberg gained in visualizing the ancient Middle East of scripture can be seen in the visual design of that movie.