Question: Does chiasmus exist in Joseph Smith's writings?

Table of Contents

Question: Does chiasmus exist in Joseph Smith's writings?

Some researchers have detected a hypothetical "chiastic" structure in one of Joseph's letters to Emma

Jared Demke and Scott Vanatter detected a hypothetical "chiastic" structure in one of Joseph's letters to Emma, dated 4 November 1838.[1] Edwards and Edwards replied that they had found

a 68% chance that the chiastic structure in this letter could have appeared randomly. This value of L [chance of chiasmus arising intentionally, rather than by chance] is typical of non-chiastic text and contrasts sharply with values for the best chiasms in the Book of Mormon and the Bible, which are as low as L = 0.000000008 ± 0.000000004 (for the ten-element chiastic structure of Alma 36)...Preliminary inspection of chiastic structure in other letters and writings by Joseph Smith indicates that these may also be indefensible statistically.[2]

Notes

  1. Jared R. Demke and Scott L. Vanatter, Davidic Chiasmus & Parallelisms. The letter can be found in Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 41.
  2. Boyd F. Edwards and W. Farrell Edwards, "Does Joseph's Letter to Emma of 4 November 1838 Show that He Knew about Chiasmus?," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought - Dialogue Paperless: E-Paper #4 (26 August 2006), [{{{pdf}}} PDF link]