Asymmetry in Chiasms, With a Note About Deuteronomy 8 and Alma 36

Title

Asymmetry in Chiasms, With a Note About Deuteronomy 8 and Alma 36

Publication Type

Journal Article

Year of Publication

2023

Authors

Pagination

191–280

Volume

59

Terms of use

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Bibliographic Citation

Ehat, Stephen Kent. "Asymmetry in Chiasms, With a Note About Deuteronomy 8 and Alma 36", Vol. 59. 2023:191–280.

Abstract

Some students of the Book of Mormon have claimed that chapter 36 of the book of Alma is structured as a chiasm. Some of the proposals depart from perfect symmetry, presenting elements of the suggested chiasm seemingly out of sequence. This has often been pointed to as a weakness in the proposed chiasm or as a problem arising from translation or editorial work, or even as evidence that no real chiasm exists over the text of the chapter. Perhaps, however, asymmetry may be a deliberate feature of ancient chiasmus. Understanding the presence and role of occasional asymmetry or skews, as they are called, may help us better appreciate the rhetorical tools employed in crafting chiastic texts anciently. In particular, we can see that the structure of Alma 36 may well be a beautifully crafted chiasmus featuring what may be an intentional skew similar to those that scholars have identified elsewhere in scripture. One such other chiastic text with a skew in it appears to be Deuteronomy 8. Indeed, one skew proposed in Alma 36, together with conceptual and other structural characteristics of the text, including the proposed chiasm of the text, perhaps suggests that some of the message and structure of Deuteronomy 8 may have served as a model for part of the message and structure of Alma 36.

Commandments
Remembrance
Chiasmus
Obedience
Deliverance

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