Chiasmus in Book of Mormon


#1

Mormons claim that chiasmus has been found in the BOM and ergo it is an ancient Hebrew document. The problems with this are manifold. Their definition of chiasmus is very very broad. So much so that you can find chiasmus in almost any book if you use it. Also the BOM is very repetitive. With that much repetition you are bound to find chiasmus type passages…and it came to pass. In addition Smith was not illiterate. He was creative and had a certain amount of native intelligence. We claim he was a false prophet not a stupid one. I have seen the FARMS explanation and compared it to the critiques. Sorry Mormons…that ain’t chiasmus and it ain’t an ancient record of American Hebrews.


#2

[quote=cestusdei]Mormons claim that chiasmus has been found in the BOM and ergo it is an ancient Hebrew document. The problems with this are manifold. Their definition of chiasmus is very very broad. So much so that you can find chiasmus in almost any book if you use it. Also the BOM is very repetitive. With that much repetition you are bound to find chiasmus type passages…and it came to pass. In addition Smith was not illiterate. He was creative and had a certain amount of native intelligence. We claim he was a false prophet not a stupid one. I have seen the FARMS explanation and compared it to the critiques. Sorry Mormons…that ain’t chiasmus and it ain’t an ancient record of American Hebrews.
[/quote]

It is cool that you are interested in chiasmus. Have you read the latest scholarly treatment of them in the Book of Mormon? I think it one-ups the negative critiques.

“the longer a monkey sits at a typewriter, the greater the likelihood that a sonnet will emerge.”

byustudies.byu.edu/chiasmus/pdf/Edwards.pdf

The article sets out an objective way to measure the chance of a chiasm occuring unintentionally. The conclusion was that the chance of unintentionality in the strongest chiasm in the Book of Mormon is infinetesimal, whereas the strongest in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Abraham are not (could very easily have occured by chance). Some other control sources were added like chiasms in the Bible and a technical manual.

For those who have read the article, what do you think of the statistical methods? The cool thing is that these numbers can be reproduced and software is available at the link above. If there is another way to calculate intentionality what would it be?

The bigger question is what the reaction to this study will be. It shows that chiasmus with the complexity of Alma 36 just don’t happen accidently.


#3

[quote=mormon fool]It is cool that you are interested in chiasmus. Have you read the latest scholarly treatment of them in the Book of Mormon? I think it one-ups the negative critiques.

“the longer a monkey sits at a typewriter, the greater the likelihood that a sonnet will emerge.”

byustudies.byu.edu/chiasmus/pdf/Edwards.pdf

The article sets out an objective way to measure the chance of a chiasm occuring unintentionally. The conclusion was that the chance of unintentionality in the strongest chiasm in the Book of Mormon is infinetesimal, whereas the strongest in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Abraham are not (could very easily have occured by chance). Some other control sources were added like chiasms in the Bible and a technical manual.

For those who have read the article, what do you think of the statistical methods? The cool thing is that these numbers can be reproduced and software is available at the link above. If there is another way to calculate intentionality what would it be?

The bigger question is what the reaction to this study will be. It shows that chiasmus with the complexity of Alma 36 just don’t happen accidently.
[/quote]

Wow! An article about the Book of Mormon from BYU. That should be an objective measure of fact! Even if chiasmus occurs in the BOM it proves nothing other than Joseph Smith had a knack for it.


#4

The article I read had the author pull down the first book on his shelf. He then applied the Mormon definition of chiasmus to the text. Apparently this computer textbook was in fact a translation of an ancient Hebrew text, lol. The chances of this increase exponentially when you have a highly repetitive text like the bom. Also you have to factor in the influence and often verbatim inclusion of the KJV Biblical text. I am afraid that, while it was a good try, chiasmus just doesn’t hold up as a proof of the bom.


#5

[quote=cestusdei]Mormons claim that chiasmus has been found in the BOM and ergo it is an ancient Hebrew document. The problems with this are manifold. Their definition of chiasmus is very very broad. So much so that you can find chiasmus in almost any book if you use it. Also the BOM is very repetitive. With that much repetition you are bound to find chiasmus type passages…and it came to pass. In addition Smith was not illiterate. He was creative and had a certain amount of native intelligence. We claim he was a false prophet not a stupid one. I have seen the FARMS explanation and compared it to the critiques. Sorry Mormons…that ain’t chiasmus and it ain’t an ancient record of American Hebrews.
[/quote]

Chiasmus is a literary device which occurs in any number of texts - as do metaphor, anaphora, metonymy, hyperbole, hendiadys, and a dozen more.

It proves nothing whatever about the theological status of a document. St. Matthew is fond of chiasmus - but so were Vergil, Milton and Dante.

How on earth can chiasmus be used as evidence that something is an “ancient Hebrew document” ? ##


#6

The occurrence of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is nowhere near so random as a monkey sitting at a typewriter. Chiasmus occurs in the Bible, which no one denies that Joseph Smith had access to. Joseph Smith consciously imitated the style of the KJV, and ‘lifted’ large portions of it. Again: the definition of ‘chiasmus’ given among LDS scholars is so broad that it could include incidental attempts to imitate Biblical language. If one uses a ‘narrow’ definition of ‘chiasmus’ to deduce the probability of ‘chiasmus’ in literary works, but then seeks for 'chiasmus in the BofM using a very broad definition-one is going to skew one’s results. IMHO. I am no expert on this topic. AND my response obviously presupposes that I feel Joseph Smith is the primary author of the BofM.


#7

[quote=Gottle of Geer]## Chiasmus is a literary device which occurs in any number of texts - as do metaphor, anaphora, metonymy, hyperbole, hendiadys, and a dozen more.

It proves nothing whatever about the theological status of a document. St. Matthew is fond of chiasmus - but so were Vergil, Milton and Dante.

How on earth can chiasmus be used as evidence that something is an “ancient Hebrew document” ? ##
[/quote]

That’s what I wonder, too!
chiasmus.com/whatischiasmus.shtml
In fact, I’d be more inclined to say that such crafty literary tricks causes me to think of Joseph Smith as far more a poet than a prophet, and his writings the fruits of creative genius, rather than Godly inspired.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.