Evidence #288 | December 20, 2021


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Scripture Central


The literary parallelism known as “progression” can be found in the Bible and also in the Book of Mormon.

One type of parallelism sometimes referred to as “progression” involves parallel phrases that build up to a climactic conclusion.1 Here is a simple example from Isaiah 3:13:

The LORD takes his place to plead a cause,

and standeth to judge the people.2

In this case, the progression has to do with a court setting. As explained by Hebrew scholar Donald Parry, “Line one of this verse depicts the Lord as an attorney who stands before the bar of judgment and pleads a cause; line two portrays him as a judge who postures himself (by standing) to judge the people. The progression is typical for any courtroom scene—an attorney first pleads a particular cause and later a judge renders judgment.”3

The progression of ideas, however, isn’t always confined to a simple couplet. The Book of Mormon features many instances of multi-tiered progression, where subsequent lines help build toward a climax. For instance, in 1 Nephi 10:19, Nephi taught that revelation comes through the power of the Holy Ghost:

as well in these times

as in times of old,

and as well in times of old

as in times to come

In this case, the progression of ideas has to do with time—present, past, and future. It should be noted that, as this example demonstrates, not all progressions must be perfectly linear or sequential. The more important factor is the overall rhetorical effect, meaning how the series of phrases build upon preceding elements to reach a final conclusion. Here are a few more examples from the Book of Mormon:

Mosiah 18:27

if he have more abundantly

he should impart more abundantly;

and of him that had but little,

but little should be required;

and to him that had not

should be given.

Mosiah 21:26

they did find a land which had been peopled;

yea, a land which was covered with dry bones;

yea, a land which had been peopled

and which had been destroyed

Alma 7:20

he cannot walk in crooked paths;

neither doth he vary from that which he hath said;

neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left,

or from that which is right to that which is wrong;

therefore, his course is one eternal round.


While certainly present in ancient Hebrew literature, it should be recognized that this category of parallelism is not as distinctive as some other forms, nor is its definition as strict. Nevertheless, the examples of this feature in the Book of Mormon (see Appendix) provide evidence of the text’s literary sophistication, while being consistent with its claimed Hebrew origins.

Carl J. Cranney, “The Deliberate Use of Hebrew Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 23, no. 1 (2014): 140–165.

Donald W. Parry, Poetic Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon: The Complete Text Reformatted (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2007).

Donald W. Parry, “Hebraisms and Other Ancient Peculiarities in the Book of Mormon,” in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 155–189.

Hugh J. Pinnock, Finding Biblical Hebrew and Other Ancient Literary Forms in the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999).


1 Nephi 2:20

1 Nephi 4:32

1 Nephi 8:24

1 Nephi 10:19

1 Nephi 12:18

1 Nephi 13:7–8

1 Nephi 19:21

1 Nephi 19:24

2 Nephi 2:5

2 Nephi 8:12

2 Nephi 9:27

2 Nephi 15:29

2 Nephi 24:14

2 Nephi 25:12–13

2 Nephi 28–29

2 Nephi 27:1

2 Nephi 28:12

2 Nephi 28:22

2 Nephi 28:23

2 Nephi 29:11

2 Nephi 29:12

2 Nephi 30:16

2 Nephi 31:13

2 Nephi 31:14

2 Nephi 31:20

2 Nephi 33:6

2 Nephi 33:10

Jacob 6:10

Jacob 6:11

Jacob 7:12

Mosiah 4:30

Mosiah 12:21

Mosiah 15:14

Mosiah 15:15–18

Mosiah 18:27

Mosiah 21:26

Mosiah 26:7

Mosiah 27:37

Alma 3:13

Alma 7:4

Alma 7:10

Alma 7:20

Alma 12:33–34

Alma 13:8

Alma 13:18

Alma 24:19

Alma 29:11–12

Alma 32:23

Alma 43:16

Alma 45:9

Alma 48:17

Helaman 3:2–3

Helaman 7:15

Helaman 11:36–37

3 Nephi 2:4–5

3 Nephi 7:1

3 Nephi 19:25

3 Nephi 20:40

3 Nephi 28:34

Ether 13:17

Ether 14:29

Literary Features
Book of Mormon

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