Sunday, June 23, 2019

Chiasmus in 1 Nephi 4:5-24

Verses 5-24 contain a great example of chiasmus. Although some people dismiss the entire notion of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon as no big deal, I believe there are several solid examples in which the structure of the words add to the poetic effect and help emphasize the central purpose of the passage. This is one of those examples:

The basic overview is as follows:

A v. 5 The brothers hide outside the walls. 
B v. 5 Nephi went forth towards the house of Laban and sees Laban.
C v. 9 Nephi holds Laban's sword 
D v. 10 Nephi is constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban 
E v. 12 "the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands" 
F v. 14-15 "I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise. Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law. 16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass." 
E' v. 17 "I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands" 
D' v. 18 Nephi obeys the voice of the Spirit 
C' v. 18-19 Nephi kills Laban with his sword. 
B' v. 20-21 Nephi went forth unto the treasury of Laban and Zoram believes he sees Laban. 
A' v. 24 Nephi and Zoram carry the plates to his brothers outside the walls.

Nephi teaches us the importance of keeping the commandments of the Lord by placing that concept at the apex of a chiasm detailing how he obtained the plates of brass through obedience.