VIDEO: Chiasmus in Alma 36 #ComeFollowMe (with John Welch)

John Welch was the pioneer in discovering Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon

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[00:00:01.270] – John Dye
Hi, everybody. It’s John and Jenny Dye, and traditionally every Sunday we are on the Mormon News Report doing live #ComeFollowMe. Traditionally, Brandt joins us from Detroit. But we’re doing an extra broadcast today because Alma Chapter 36 talks specifically about something called Chiasmus That’s a literary trope that is utilized. And I wanted to talk a little bit about that today. So basically, Chiasmus, this is something that has been utilized in Greek and Hebrew literature for some time.

[00:00:45.260] – John Dye
But basically this says here it’s a rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions or concepts are repeated in reverse order in the same or modified form. And I think that’s important because as we think through what that looks like specifically, it’s important to note that, you know, people at this time did not have I mean, breastplates and other types of plates were hard to engrave on. Right. And so an oral literary tradition was was pretty common.

[00:01:22.040] You know, specifically within the LDS. Sphere of things, genre is genre. Yeah, that’s where that’s where this man, the man on the right. John Welch, he was very important because he is the one who really, I think, is the pioneer of understanding and learning about Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. Now, he was a young missionary, as is shown here. He was a young missionary in Germany.

[00:01:55.320] And he and his companion during a P-day went to listen to some biblical scholars talk about Chiasmus in the Bible. From there, he went back and he thought, “Gosh, I bet you that probably exists in the Book of Mormon.” And lo and behold, he was able to find out that indeed Chiasmus did exist in the Book of Mormon. Now, I believe he originally found it in Mosiah. But Alma 36 is by far one of the spots that has, I’d say, probably the preeminent chapter of Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon.

[00:02:34.860] – Jenny Dye
Kind of interesting. Yeah, and I’m glad that we’re doing this, because like John mentioned earlier today, we did our weekly company that cast and we do an hour long lesson with the man in his podcast. We do that today and we ran out of time. But, John, this is something that really struck him as interesting and he really wanted to discuss it. He added to remember some of that. Also, I think one more. I just want to talk a little bit.

[00:02:58.680] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, it is you think of Cosmos. I’ll just give a few everyday examples that people might be familiar with. If you look on bumper stickers, you know, often you have a play on words. You know, age is a matter of mind, if you don’t mind. It doesn’t matter. Here’s one from a T-shirt that a lot of people I’ve seen wear IRS. We’ve got what it takes to take what you got.

[00:03:27.360] And Jenny, you and I even have noticed this in some mainstream media, right. With some of the stuff that we have seen culture. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s some some very interesting things that, you know, we’ve seen there that. And so I’m going to actually pull this up really quick. Maybe. Let’s put it up here that the the movie. Mystery men. That’s one that came out about a decade or so ago.

[00:04:04.430] But this is one that has quite a few interesting points in it. And one of the things that is talked about here is the fact that there’s a character called the Sphinx. And I’ll bring up some of his stuff because he does some pretty interesting things as he talks about CIA as Miss. So he in it came out and they denied that. OK. So. Oh, wow. Two decades ago. Wow. So he said something like this.

[00:04:37.040] When you doubt your powers, you give power to your doubts.

[00:04:42.530] And later, he also said this. To learn my teachings, I must first teach you to learn. Here’s another one here. He who questions training only trains himself in asking questions. So, again, just basically flipping everything around. And this is my favorite. When he’s with Ben Stiller, he says the Sphinx says your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you master your rage, Rachel becoming master, I know your rage will become your master.

[00:05:17.960] That’s what you’re going to say, right?

[00:05:19.450] Because not necessarily. But so basically what he does is he obviously turns to turn things around right the way that he says things. So there you mentioned the bumper stickers. You know, like one example to emphasize, you know, don’t sweat the petty things and don’t sweat it. Yes. You know, things like that. So it’s basically it comes from the Greek word being crossed. So it’s a grammatical structure that inverts the previous phrase. So you say one thing and then immediately following you say the same thing.

[00:05:52.580] But in an inverted sense, it’s something that some scriptures here, the way that you were saying that it’s. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So one interesting thing. So here’s Alma 36, and I think this is where it’s really important. Basically, if you look at verse one at the very top, it’s it’s almost a sideways pyramid. You’ll notice that that shape is is a sideways pyramid. But my son give here to my words in verse one, and you’ll notice that words are described at the end as well.

[00:06:25.850] It’s broken off at the bottom of the video, so you can’t see it. But verse the second line says, keep the commandments. Ye shall prosper in the land. Verse 30 at the very bottom also says the same thing. So the top and the bottom are basically parallel. And you’ll notice toward the middle in verse 17 and 18, Jesus Christ is the crux of what is being talked about. Again, this is when Helaman is being spoken to by his father, Alma.

[00:06:55.660] The younger and the younger is recounting again his conversion story. At this point, though, I think it’s important to note that, you know, there are multiple versions of this, but he’s sharing what is most important. And as he does so, again, this is an oral tradition. So it’s important that they have Chiasmus or a certain way that they can remember the story and recount that story. And so you’ll notice here again the things that the top and the things at the bottom tie together.

[00:07:28.460] And Jesus Christ versus 17 and 18 is the key and crux piece there in that. So, again, this is something that John Wells, the individual on the right, came up with. He’s on a mission in Germany on the 16th. I’m sorry. Noticed? Yeah. He applied it to the Book of Mormon. And you’ll notice again this sideways pyramid that has been created. But what’s talked about at the top is also talked about at the bottom.

[00:08:00.260] One other interesting thing to note is that as we look at this piece here, you’ll notice that as as we get to Jesus Christ from the top to the middle part, that is before Alma had discovered Christ, before he had been truly converted. And then the change in tone and description from the middle point to the bottom is extremely important because you’ll notice that they were in bondage. She surely did deliver them. I sought to destroy the church. My limbs were paralyzed.

[00:08:42.680] This is can l.. He was fearful to be in the presence of God. And he suffered the pains of a damned soul who was also Herod up by memory of his sins. But that’s when he remembered Jesus Christ in P, and P also says, I cried. Jesus Christ, I cried. Jesus, son of God. And again, oh, and oh, on the bottom tie together at the top before he found Jesus Christ, he was held up by the memory of his sins on the bottom, says he was harrowed up by the memory of his sins no more.

[00:09:16.800] And then as we talk about pain in N. That contrasts with the joy that he had. So everything on top is deals with pain and fear and sin and everything on the bottom is the joy and the being born of God and all the good things that happened because of that. So. Anyway, that’s Kai Asthmas in Chapter 36. Again, this is when Elmau was recounting his story of being visited by the angel, is speaking to a son, specifically speaking to a son, Sillerman son, human here and leadership long.

[00:10:03.980] But anyway, kind of a cool literary thing that happened there. And it’s one you get, doesn’t it? Yeah. So thanks, everybody. Have a good day.



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