For my Come, Follow Me Study of the Book of Mormon last week, I learned more about chiasmus. It is a Hebrew literary structure found in the Book of Mormon. Alma 36 is probably the most beautiful example, because it focuses on Christ’s atonement. Alma 36 is so achingly beautiful about the power of Christ’s redemption. Then to discover that it has a poetic structure from ancient Hebrew makes it even more beautiful!
This Hebrew literary structure in the Book of Mormon helps to show that Joseph Smith did not write the book, but rather was simply the translator. The Book of Mormon was originally written in Reformed Egyptian. The writers of the Book of Mormon also knew Hebrew and altered the Hebrew language. So some of that knowledge of Hebrew probably crept into their writing of the book in reformed Egyptian.
Here is what Moroni, one of the writers and compilers of the book said:
“And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech” (Mormon 9:32, emphasis added).
He also said that “if our plates had been sufficiently large we [the Nephite record-keepers] should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.” This was punctuated with the comment that “because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore [the Lord] hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof,” meaning the Nephite “interpreters” that Moroni deposited with the plates (Mormon 9:32–34; see also Mosiah 8:13, 19; Alma 37:21; Ether 4:5).
I hope you enjoy these videos about what chiasmus is and Brother John Welch’s Book of Mormon chiasmus discovery. I definitely felt the Spirit when I watched these videos.
The above video is by Greg Welch, son of John Welch.
Here’s a video John Welch made recently for Book of Mormon Central. So cool!
Then here’s a speech by John Welch and others, including John’s wife and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, at the 50th anniversary of the discovery of chiasmus, at a conference at BYU. Extra cool!
I know the Book of Mormon is true. I first felt a witness of its truthfulness from the Holy Spirit at age 12 when I read it from cover to cover and prayed to know if it is true. The Book of Mormon has given me answers to many problems and peace and comfort in times of trouble. I still carry that witness with me. This book continues to give me light and guidance to this day. I love that God cares enough about us to have inspired this record to be written ages ago, in addition to the Bible, to help us navigate these troubled times today.
Note from the description of the video on YouTube: “During Elder Holland’s address, he referred to the prophet Moroni when he intended to refer to Nephi, the son of Helaman. Elder Holland has corrected the mistake, and updated the transcript at Mormon Newsroom. He has asked up to make note us his update to the presentation.”
Here is the transcript of Elder Holland’s talk.