chiasmus, Alma 36, Hebrew rhetoric


Over the last fifty years, Alma chapter 36 has become famous among Book of Mormon readers because of its impressive chiastic structure as identified by John W. Welch. As it evolved over the following decades, Welch’s analysis also attracted criticisms—mostly for its failure to include more than half of the text of the chapter. During this same time frame, students of the Hebrew Bible discovered and elaborated a rich rhetorical system evidenced in Hebrew literature from the 8th century BCE and forward, a system which included chiasmus and many other devices based on repetition, parallelism, demarcation, and subordination and which reached the peak of its development about 600 BCE. This paper applies this full system of Hebrew rhetoric to an analysis of Alma 36 and shows how every word in the chapter is utilized meaningfully in its multi-level structure, with chiasmus being one of the most frequently used forms.

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Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Political Science

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