Why LDS Scholars Celebrate Book of Mormon Chiasmus

Chiasmus Alma 36
via Book of Mormon Central

Recently, Mormon scholars threw a party to celebrate the discovery of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. Elder Holland was the keynote speaker, so it must have been an important event. But why?

Chiasmus is a Hebraic poetic form identified in the Bible a long time ago. Ancient prophets used it not only to sound poetic, but to make important religious points by repeating and contrasting them. Here is a short one from Matthew:

A No one can serve two masters;
B for either he will hate the one
C and love the other,
C′ or he will be devoted to one
B′ and despise the other.
A′ You cannot serve God and wealth.
(Matt 6:24)


Note that A has a similar theme to A’, B has a similar theme to B’, and C has a similar theme to C’. The central theme is C + C’. Note how the themes are emphasized by repeating them in a pattern.

The Book of Mormon is Ancient Scripture

Because the Book of Mormon talks about geography in a relative way, it has been difficult to place a location for the Nephites on a map of the Americas. This complicates the hunt for archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, what we would call “external proofs.”

But the Book of Mormon has internal proofs that are just as important for verifying its claim to be a record of ancient, displaced Israelites. Chiasmus is an important internal proof.

Chiasmus was Discovered by a Young Mormon Missionary

This is the 50th anniversary of the discovery of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon by a young (and obviously brilliant) Mormon missionary, John W. Welch. Watch the fascinating video below to see how many events lined up for this to happen.

Gale Boyd is the managing editor for ThirdHour.org. She is a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has lived all over the world. She has raised 6 Third Culture Kids and is always homesick for somewhere.