Chiasmus

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Potential Literary Patterns in Helaman 5

I was reading the words that Helaman taught to his sons, Nephi and Lehi and noticed some potential patterns. Helaman appears to have taught many things to his sons but we only have a few of these words recorded in Helaman 5:6-12. Whether these patterns were intended or not is unknown. Literary patterns breathe life into mere words by incorporating techniques that produce vivid imagery and emotional effects. Chiasmus is a tool used to draw attention to a particular point or theme and there appears to be some use of it by Helaman.

Usually when I see a word repeated many times or patterns of identical or contrasting text I stop and widen my scope to see if there is a pattern and how far it extends. It certainly causes me to spend more time with a particular section of text whether or not any legitimate literary patterns are being used or not. We don’t know for sure what the author was thinking and some of these patterns may just be coincidental. Nevertheless, they can provide an interesting way of playing with the text and examining the message.Read Full Post

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Beautiful Literary Patterns in Alma 19:6

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I was doing a search today in the Gospel Library app for the word “mind” because I was looking for particular themes related to the mind in the Book of Mormon. As I looked at Alma 19:6, the repetition of the word “light” was clued me in that there must be some literary structure at work.

In ancient Eastern languages without punctuation, you painted pictures through repetition, emphasis, contrast, and many other techniques. I have broken down Alma 19:6 based on various patterns, the most obvious being an overarching chiasm and various sets of parallelisms. There are a couple of different ways you can read this depending on the theme being emphasized.

  • A1 – he knew that king Lamoni was under the
  • A2 – power of God; he knew that the
    • B1 – dark veil of unbelief was being
    • B2 – cast away from
    • B3 – his mind, and the
      • C1 – light which did
      • C2 – light up his
      • C3 – mind, which was the
        • D1 – light of the glory of
          • E – God, which was a marvelous
        • D1 – light of his goodness–yea, this
      • C1 – light had
      • C2 – infused such joy into his
      • C3 – soul, the
    • B1 – cloud of darkness having been
    • B2 – dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in
    • B3 – his soul, yea,
  • A1 – he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was
  • A2 – carried away in God–

The entire thought presented here is surrounded by the name of God, who appears at the beginning and the end (how appropriate). Next is this Read Full Post

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Examining the Chiastic Structure of the Word of Wisdom

Back when I was studying the Word of Wisdom in depth, I became aware of potential patterns in the text. I began to wonder if D&C 89 was structured in a chiastic form. I printed out a copy and began marking it up.

To my delight, I began to find certain themes repeating themselves in opposite directions off of a central theme. As I analyzed the structure, I decided to try to boil it down to certain themes or principles and I found 3 that appear to be represented strongly in the text: temporal salvation, spiritual blessings, and stewardship over creation.

Theme & Color Key

Temporal Salvation
Health, strength, wellness, energy

Spiritual Blessings
Revelation, clarity, blessings for obedience

Stewardship Over Creation
Respect for life, proper use, peace.
Flesh ordained for use when there is a legitimate need.Read Full Post

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