And Now: More Than A Standard Opening
Warren Bennett, a member of Restoration Branch formerly RLDS, sends the following article:
In ancient Israel, letters were often written in ink on ostracon (plural, ostraca), which is simply a piece of broken pottery from an earthen vessel. Longer letters were inscribed on larger limestone ostraca. There is a common phrase found in Hebrew letters and scripture which is “and now.” Scholars have shown that this phrase is used as a transitional phrase, or standard opening, following the greeting at the beginning of a letter.
Greeting/Transitional or Standard Opening
Lachish ostracon 3. In the 1930s, twenty-one ostraca or pottery sherds were discovered during archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Lachish, a city in Judea which was laid siege to by Joshua (Joshua 10:30-31). After its destruction by the Assyrians, Lachish was rebuilt and thrived until destroyed by the Babylonians in c. 587 BC. One of the letters written on an ostracon from this latter period of Lachish first presents a greeting, followed by the purpose or reason for writing, beginning with the words “and now” (Pike 2004):
Your servant Hoshayahu sends a report to my lord Yaush.
May YHVH cause my lord to hear peaceful and good news.
And now, please open the ear of your servant concerning the letter
which you sent to your servant last night for your servant has been
heartsick since you sent (the letter) to your servant. My lord said,
“You do not know how to read a letter!" As YHWH lives, no one
has ever attempted (i.e., had) to read a letter to me! For I can read
any letter which is sent to me, and moreover, I can recite it back in order.
Hoshayahu sent this letter to his superior Yaush. He quickly gets to the point in the body of the letter beginning with the prhase “and now,” venting his frustration over a previous letter.
Moussaieff ostracon 2. Named for the purchaser on the antiquities market, two ostraca were recently accepted by some scholars as genuine, and most likely date from the 7th-8th century BC based on their paleography. This second ostracon by a widow is written to an “unnamed official” with the purpose concerning a question of inheritance introduced by the phrase “and now” (Pike 2004).
May YHVH bless you with peace.
And now, may my lord the governor hear your maidservant.
My husband died (leaving) no sons (or children). So let your
hand be with me and give into the hand of your maidservant
the inheritance about which you spoke (or promised) to
Pike observes that “The transition from the salutation to the body of the letter was often marked by the expression and now (e.g., Lachish, Arad)” (emphasis added).
More recently, broader usages with additional meanings have been suggested. One such recognized pattern first presents historical background which is followed by a conclusion. The conclusion or main point is introduced by the phrase “and now.” Examples of this usage were presented by Nehemia Gordon on his radio program (www.truth2u.org). He is a graduate of Hebrew University of Jerusalem with degrees in Biblical Studies and Archaeology; he also participated in the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Gordon observes that the “and now” phrase is commonly found in the books of Moses and the writings of the prophets. A classic example of the introduction of background, followed by the main purpose or point introduced by the phrase “and now” is Deuteronomy 26. Moses recites events that took place as background before coming to a conclusion. He begins his prelude with an explanation that Jacob went down to Egypt, became a numerous people, were afflicted by the Egyptians, cried to the Lord, the Lord heard them and brought them safely out of Egypt (vv. 5-9). Then in verse 10 he introduces his real message and purpose of his writing with the phrase “and now”:
And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land
which thou, O Lord, has given me. And thou shalt set it before
the Lord thy God and worship before the Lord thy God.
The main emphasis or point that Moses is making is that the offering he is bringing to the Lord is in response to all that the Lord has done.
Another example is found in Genesis 11:1-5 where the history of the people is given leading up to building the great tower:
And the whole earth was of the same language, and of the same speech.
And it came to pass, that many journeyed from the east, and as they
journeyed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar,
and dwelt there in the plain of Shinar. And they said one to another,
Come, go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.
And they had brick for stone, and they had slime for mortar.
And they said, Come, go to, let us build us a city, and a tower
whose top will be high, nigh unto heaven; and let us make us a name,
lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
And the Lord came down, beholding the city and the tower
which the children of men were building; And the Lord said,
Behold, the people are the same, and they all have the same language;
and this tower they begin to build, and now, nothing will be restrained from them,
The final point introduced by the phrase “and now” is that nothing will restrain them from more such works and pride.
A New Testament example is found in Matthew chapter 3:9-10 , where the Lord gives a warning before using the phrase “and now” to present consequences of disobedience:
And think not to say within yourselves,
We are the children of Abraham, and we only have power
to bring seed unto our father Abraham; for I say unto you
that God is able of these stones to raise up children into Abraham.
And now, also, the axe is laid unto the root of the trees;
therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit,
shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Book of Mormon
Many such examples of this classic style of Hebrew writing can be found in The Book of Mormon. In fact, the phrase “and now” is found 645 times in the 1908 Book of Mormon. As in the Bible, examples with a history or some background information are presented first, followed by an important statement. In the following, Nephi first reviews a summary of what he has already related of his father’s experiences, followed by his own conclusion that he (Nephi) is not going to give a full account:
And after this manner was the language of my father
in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice,
and his whole heart was filled, because of the things
which he had seen; yea, which the Lord had shewn unto him.
And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things
which my father hath written, for he hath written many things
which he saw in visions and in dreams;
1 Nephi 1:14-15 [1:15-16]
Another example of this pattern is found in the final verses of Second Nephi chapter 5 [6-8] and the beginning of chapter 6 :
And thou hast laid thy body as the ground,
and as the street to them that went over.
Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion;
put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city:
For henceforth there shall no more come into thee,
the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down,
O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.
2 Nephi 5:111-114 [8:23-25]
And now, my beloved brethren, I have read these things
that ye might know concerning the covenants of the Lord;
that he has covenanted with the house of Israel;
2 Nephi 6:1 [9:1]
In this example Nephi concludes the last verses in chapter 5  (above) quoting Isaiah 52:1-2, which serves as background before stating his true purpose for reading Isaiah to his brethren. His purpose follows in chapter 6:1-3 [9:1-3] even though there is a chapter break. Verses 1-3 present the conclusion which we become aware of when we understand the Hebrew cultural method of writing.
Many more examples can be found in both the Bible and Book of Mormon. In the very last verse of Moroni 10:31 [10:34], Moroni bids farewell with this phrase, “And now I bid unto all, farewell…”
Once becoming aware of these ancient language patterns, when reading the phrase “and now,” we should pause and consider the author’s main point.
Pike, Dana M
2004 Israelite Inscriptions from the Time of Jeremiah and Lehi. In Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem. David Rolph Seely, John W. Welch and JoAnn H Seely. Foundation for Research and Mormon Studies, Provo.
Online at http://maxwellinstitute.
Sep 7, 2013
Dear Brother Christensen,
I have reread this article and do not have any corrections or additions to add.
I have been retired for several years. I am from Michigan originally. I graduated from Graceland University and have a B.S. in Education from the University of Missouri, in Columbia. I now live in Rockford, Illinois near my family. Unfortunately, there is no Restoration branch church in this area to attend.
Brother Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org