Hebrew rhetoric, chiasmus, inclusio, Second Nephi, Book of Mormon


The experiment conducted in this paper has been the application of the principles of Hebrew rhetoric—as that has come to be understood by biblical scholars over the last half century—to the Book of Second Nephi, self-described as personally written by Nephi, who was educated in Jerusalem at the end of the 7th century BCE, a time and place where these principles are now thought by scholars to have been de rigeur. The experiment did not refute the hypothesis, but instead did produce a plausible division of the book into 13 sub-units that readily organize themselves chiastically as a whole. The experiment also took the central rhetorical sub-unit G and explored its internal rhetorical structure down two more levels. That analysis has produced a plausible chiastic structure in which every word of the passage fits comfortably into yet another lower level of rhetorical structures. In addition, this passage (2 Nephi 11:2–8) turns out to feature the principal theses of Nephi’s writings at the same time that it explains the inclusion and placement of the long excerpts from Lehi, Jacob, and Isaiah, even though it is a passage that has rarely been featured in Book of Mormon analyses. These results are sufficiently positive and justify moving the project forward to the much larger task of providing rhetorical analyses for the twelve remaining major textual subdivisions of the book.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Permanent URL


pre-publication version




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Political Science

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor