Chiasmus is a Hebrew literary structural form that appears in the Bible. Portions of text parallel each other in reverse order. Chiasmus was first recognized by a handful of scholars in 1820, but not well-known until 1942. In 1967 chiasmus was discovered in the Book of Mormon, and the findings were published in BYU Studies. Since then, two organizations (FARMS and FRAA) have published extensive literature to show that the Book of Mormon translated by Joseph Smith Jr. has Hebrew origins. They are correct on the Book of Mormon, but what they cannot explain is how another early Mormon, James J. Strang, could produce works in 1845 and 1851 with the same chiastic style, unless Strangs translations have the same sacred origins as the Book of Mormon. Strang said that his translation of the Book of the Law of the Lord was made from the brass plates that the ancient Book of Mormon author named Nephi obtained from Jerusalem (as in 2 Chronicles 17:9), and the book had a testimony of witnesses.
Here is beginners example of chiasmus from the Book of the Law
of the Lord, chapter 39, section 1, which shows good rhythm. Notice that line A
parallels line A', and line B parallels line B':
A YE SHALL not CLOTHE YOURSELVES
B AFTER THE MANNER of the follies of other men;
B' but AFTER THE MANNER that is seemly and convenient,
A' SHALL YE CLOTHE YOURSELVES.
Here is a more complex example from the FIRST
CHAPTER of the 1851
Book of the Law of the Lord, with God skillfully placed in the center of the
A Thou shalt not TAKE the NAME of the Lord thy God in VAIN:
B thou shalt not USURP dominion
C as a RULER; for the NAME of the Lord thy God
D is great and glorious ABOVE ALL OTHER NAMES:
E he is ABOVE ALL,
F and is the ONLY TRUE God;
F' the ONLY JUST and upright King
E' OVER ALL:
D' he ALONE hath the RIGHT
C' to RULE; and in his NAME, only he to whom he granteth it:
B' whosoever is not chosen of him, the same is a USURPER, and unholy:
A' the Lord will not hold him guiltless, for he TAKETH his NAME in VAIN.
Here is another example of chiasmus from the
FIRST TWO PARAGRAPHS of a different earlier record translated by James J. Strang in 1845, usually called the
Voree Plates. The two paragraphs reverse each other in theme even more than in vocabulary:
A My people ARE NO MORE.
B THE MIGHTY ARE FALLEN, and the young slain in battle.
C Their BONES bleached on the plain by the noonday SHADOW.
D The houses are leveled to the dust, and IN THE MOAT are the walls. They shall be inhabited.
D' I have IN THE BURIAL served them,
C' and their BONES in the Death-SHADE, towards the suns rising, are covered.
B' They sleep with THE MIGHTY dead, and they rest with their fathers. They have FALLEN in transgression
A' AND ARE NOT, but the elect and faithful there shall dwell.
There is a copy of the Book of the Law of the Lord in original uncut, unopened sheets in the First Presidencys vault of the Mormons in Salt Lake City, which they have confirmed. Other copies, however, can be viewed at BYU, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, the University of Michigan, the Newberry Library, or the Huntington Library. You can read the Book of the Law of the Lord or the Voree Plates online, or order a copy from our catalogue. There is additional information about James J. Strang at the churchs home page. All of those places are linked above.
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