My soul delighteth in chiasmi

scripsOne of the literary devices frequently used in ancient scriptures is what is known as “introverted parallelism” or, as its more commonly known, a chiamus. (kahy-az-muhs) Consider the following example:

“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39)

A – Findeth

B – Life

C – Lose

C’ – Lose

B’- Life

A’ – Findeth

Often, not always, the “peak” or center (C&C’) is the focus of what is being taught. For more information about Chiasmi, with further explanation and examples, download this PDF file.

One can find chiasmi throughout the Bible and it is fascinating to me that the Book of Mormon is full of these devices. One more little indicator that, at the very least, a mere teen with very little formal education did not make up this volume of scripture.

In my last reading of 2 Nephi I was excited to find an example of chiastic structure.

Nephi uses the phrase “my soul delighteth” ten times throughout all of 2 Nephi. Actually, the phrase is used 12 times but the other two are used by Jacob. Excluding Jacob’s uses, here is the list:

2 Nephi   – “My soul delighteth in…”
4:15 –   scriptures
4:16 –   things of the Lord
11:2 –   words of Isaiah
11:4 –   proving truth of coming of Christ
11:5 –   covenants of the Lord
11:5 – His   grace, justice, power, mercy and plan
11:6 –   proving without Christ all must perish
25:4 –   plainness describing words of Isaiah
25:13 –   prophesy concerning him
31:3 –   plainness…he speaketh unto men according to their language

It doesn’t take a gospel scholar to quickly realize that Nephi is teaching using a chiasmus.

2 Nephi   – “My soul delighteth in…”
A – 4:15 –   scriptures
    B – 4:16 – things of the Lord
          C – 11:2 – words of Isaiah
               D – 11:4 – proving truth of   coming of Christ
                    E – 11:5 – covenants of   the Lord
                    E’ – 11:5 – His grace, justice,   power, mercy and plan
               D’ – 11:6 – proving without   Christ all must perish
            C’ – 25:4 – plainness describing words of Isaiah
     B’ – 25:13 – prophesy concerning him
A’ – 31:3   – plainness…he speaketh unto men according to their language

They may not be the exact words, but they are the same principles and doctrines. And I love the peak. Nephi delights in the covenants of the Lord which include His grace, His justice, His power, His mercy and His plan. It is the center of this chiasmus and indeed, the center of our lives.

Advertisements

One Response to My soul delighteth in chiasmi

  1. Dennis Dalling says:

    Thanks President Parker! I actually found recently that the entire present day version of our Book of Mormon, is in fact a chiasmus. In my studies the other day, I discovered, the topic of “Tender Mercies” is in first chapter: 1 NE 1:20, and last chapter Moroni 10:3, and not only is it in the middle chapter of the BoM, but precisely the middle verse of the middle chapter of the BoM. Alma 24:15.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: