Question: What is the significance of the chiasmus in Alma 41:12-15?

Table of Contents

Question: What is the significance of the chiasmus in Alma 41:12-15?

The poetry cleverly teaches the doctrine that Alma is trying to convey: the doctrine of “restoration,” or "the word restoration" as he begins and ends

From:John W. Welch, Chiasmus In Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis (Provo, Utah: FARMS, Research Press, 1981[1989]), 207. ISBN 0934893330. ISBN 3806707979. FairMormon link


A1 – And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again

A2 – evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish
B – good for that which is good [2x]
C – righteous for that which is righteous [2x]
D – just for that which is just [2x]
E – merciful for that which is merciful. [2x]
(Note how the double repetition in the first half is repeated twice in the second half)
First repetition
e – Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren
d – deal justly
c – judge righteously
b – and do good continually

and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea,

Second repetition (shall 'return unto you again')
e – ye shall have mercy restored unto you again;
d – ye shall have justice restored unto you again
c – ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again;
b – and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again
A2 – For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again,

and be restored; A1 – therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.[1]


The poetry cleverly teaches the doctrine that Alma is trying to convey: the doctrine of “restoration,” or "the word restoration" as he begins and ends.

So, the first half "gives" things like justice, righteousness, and doing good—the second half reflects those things back a first time, and then a second time in which these things are come “unto you again.” The poem itself “restores” things. It’s a clever bit of work, in which the chiasmus actually accomplishes what the doctrine it is teaching does.


Notes

  1. John W. Welch, Chiasmus In Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis (Provo, Utah: FARMS, Research Press, 1981[1989]), 207. ISBN 0934893330. ISBN 3806707979. FairMormon link