Many Book of Mormon scholars argue that because the book is filled with Hebraisms, it is evidence that the book is of ancient Hebrew origin. Is this true?
Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. It is the easiest type of Hebrew writing form to identify.
1 Nephi 11:8-13:1 with the repetition of the phrase "Look! And I looked." It is repeated ten times in this group of verses.
1 Nephi 21:7-25 with the repetition of the phrase "Thus saith the Lord." It is repeated five times.
2 Nephi 9:11-51 the phrase "The Holy One of Israel" is repeated thirteen times.
2 Nephi 9:30-38 with the repetition of the phrase "Wo unto" that is repeated nine times.
2 Nephi 10:8-19 the phrase "saith God" is used six times.
2 Nephi 11:2-6 the phrase "my soul delighteth" appears five times.
2 Nephi 19:12-20:4 the phrase "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still" is repeated four times.
2 Nephi 28:24-29 the phrase "wo be unto him" is repeated five times.
2 Nephi 29:12 in this one verse the phrase "and they shall write it" is repeated four times.
Mosiah 15:15-18 the phrase "O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet!" is repeated four times.
Alma 5:3-25 Alma repeates the phrase "I say unto you" or "I ask of you" or some variation, twenty times.
Alma 5:53-56 The phrase "will ye persist" is repeated five times.
Polysyndeton is the use of multiple conjunctions, placed between every item in a series. We see this in 2 Nephi 9:28 with the word "and." In Alma 44:5 we see this with the word "by."
1 Nephi 13:5-9 with the word "and"
1 Nephi 18:21-25 with the word "and"
2 Nephi 5:15, Nephi lists all of the things he taught his people to do, separated by the word "and"
Alma 1:29 Alma uses the word "and" to list the riches of the people.
Alma 2:12-13 Alma lists the weapons and captains for battle with the word "and."
While serving a missoin in Germany in 1967, twenty year old John W. Welch discovered chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. Chiasmus is a writing style that dates back to ancient times. It can be defined most simply as an inverted paralelism. John W. Welch once stated that: "The discovery of biblical-style chiasmus in the Book of Mormon strongly reduces the probability that Joesph Smith or any of his contemporaries could have written the book." However beautiful and impressive chiasms are in the scriptures, the fact that they are also present in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Abraham, and even in many of Joseph Smith's letters moves us away from seeing them as evidence that they are of ancient origins.
Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ,
A. and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
B. And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come-
C. after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord;
D. wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem
D. for it had been in a time of old;
C. but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord;
B. and it should be built unto the house of Israel-
A. And that a New Jerusalem should be built upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
And it came to pass that in this same year there was exceedingly great prosperity in the church
A. insomuch that there were thousands
B. who did join themselves unto the church
C. and were baptized unto repentance.
D. And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many
the blessings which were poured out upon the people,
E. that even the high priests,
E. and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.
D. And it came to pass that the work of the Lord did prosper
C. unto the baptizing
B. and uniting to the church of God, many souls,
A. yea, even tens of thousands.
A. they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands.. (v. 18)
B. Therefore Coriantumr did cut down the watch by the entrance (v. 20)
C. Coriantumr ...did slay every one who did oppose them (v. 20)
D. they did take possession of the whole city. (v. 20)
E. And it came to pass that Pacumeni ..did flee ..Coriantumr did smite him against the
wall, insomuch that he died. (v. 21)
E. And thus ended the days of Pacumeni. (v. 21)
D. he was in possession of the city of Zarahemla.. (v. 22)
C. the Nephites had fled before them, and were slain, and were taken, and were cast into prison (v. 22)
B. ..for it was his determination to go forth and cut his way through with the sword, (v. 23)
A. supposing that their greatest strength was in the center of the land.. (v. 24)
For were it not for the wickedness which first commenced at our head,
A. we could have withstood our enemies that they could have gained no power over us.
B. Yea, had it not been for the war which broke out among ourselves;
C. yea, were it not for these king-men, who caused so much bloodshed among ourselves;
D. yea, at the time we were contending among ourselves,
E. if we had united our strength as we hitherto have done;
F. yea, had it not been for the desire of power and authority which those king-men had over us;
F. had they been true to the cause of our freedom,
E. and united with us,
D. and gone forth against our enemies, instead of taking up their swords against us,
C. which was the cause of so much bloodshed among ourselves;
B. yea, if we had gone forth against them in the strength of the Lord,
A. we should have dispersed our enemies, for it would have been done, according to the fulfilling of his word.
A. we received a supply of provisions
B. also an addition to our army
C. from the land of Zarahemla
D. to the number of six thousand men
D. besides sixty of the sons of the Ammonites
C. who had come to join their brethren
B. And now behold, we were strong,
A. Yea, we had plenty of provisions brought unto us.
To repeat a single word or phrase like the Hebraisms polysyndeton and anaphora, is not a hard thing to master. Just look at Gilbert J. Hunt's "The Late War" and you can see how easy it is to recreate certain Hebraisms.
Instead of focusing on the aforementioned types of Hebraisms, I want to focus mainly on exploring the use of chiasms in Joseph Smith's writings. If chiasms appear in his modern texts, then this would lesson the credibility of them appearing in the Book of Mormon as being of ancient Hebrew origin.
Below I have broken each of Joseph Smith's writings down into three categories: the Doctrine in Covenants (which was recieved in the 1830-40s), his personal letters and journals, and the Book of Abraham (if it was indeed produced from the catalyst theory).
Doctrine and Covenants
A. For verily the voice of the Lord is unto unto all men (v.1-2)
B. their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed (v. 3)
C. for I the Lord have commanded them (v. 5)
D. the preface unto the book of my commandments (v. 6)
E. O inhabitants of the earth (v. 6)
F. for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled.
G. Unto the day when the Lord shall come (v. 10)
H. the Lord, the Lord, the Lord (v. 11-17)
I. called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. (v. 17)
J. and gave him commandments; and also gave commandments to others (v. 17-18)
K. But that every man might speak (v. 20)
L. in the name of God (v. 20)
M. even the Savior of the world (v. 20)
N. That mine everlasting covenant might be established (v. 22)
N. That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and simple (v. 23)
M. unto the ends of the world (v. 23)
L. Behold, I am God (v. 24)
K. and have spoken it (v. 24)
J. these commandmets are of me (v. 24)
I. my servant Joseph Smith, Jun (v. 29)
H. God, God, the Lord, the Lord (v. 29-34)
G. the day speedily cometh (v. 35)
F. the Lord shall have power over the saints (v. 36)
E. Idumea, or the world (v. 36)
D. Search these commandments (v. 37)
C. the Lord (v. 38)
B. have spoken, I have spoken (v.38)
A.Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same (v. 38)
Doctrine and Covenants
A. Recieve a knowledge (v. 1)
B. ask in faith (v. 1)
C. you shall recieve knowledge concerning the engravings (v. 1)
D. Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind (v. 2)
E. therefore (v. 4)
F. for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies (v. 4)
G. this is your gift (v. 5)
H. which is the gift of Aaron (v. 6)
H. There is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you (v. 7)
G. for it is the gift of God (v. 8)
F. you shall hold it in your hands
E. therefore (v. 9)
D. ask me to tell you (v. 9)
C. you shall have knowledge concerning it (v. 9)
B. therefore ask in faith (v. 10)
A. and receieve knowledge from all those ancient records (v. 11)
Pearl of Great Price
A. Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain (v. 1)
B. he saw God face to face (v. 2)
C. the glory of God was upon Moses (v. 2)
D. therefore Moses could endure his presence (v. 2)
D. the presence of God withdrew from Moses (v. 9)
C. his glory was not upon Moses (v. 9)
B. Moses was left unto himself (v. 9)
A. he fell uinto the earth (v. 9)
Pearl of Great Price
A. this earth upon which thou standest (v. 40)
B. write the things which I shall speak (v. 40)
C. in a day when the children of men (v. 41)
D. shall esteem my words as naught (v. 41)
E. take many of them from the book which thou shalt write (v. 41)
F. Behold, I will raise up another like unto thee (v. 41)
E. they shall be had again (v. 41)
D. as many as shall believe (v. 41)
C. among the children of men (v. 42)
B. write the words which I shall speak (2:1)
A. the earth upon which thou standest (2:1)
Pearl of Great Price
A. confered upon me
B. from the fathers
C. it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time
D. yea, even from the beginning,
D. or the foudnation of the earth
C. down to the present time... first father
B. through the fathers
A. unto me
Pearl of Great Price
A. before the world was (v. 22)
B. the noble and great ones (v. 22)
C. God saw these souls that they were good (v. 23)
D. he stood in the midst of them (v. 23)
E. These I will make my rulers (v. 23)
D. he stood among those that were spirits (v. 23)
C. he saw that they were good (v. 23)
B. thou art one of them (v. 23)
A. before thou wast born (v. 23)
Joseph Smith's Letter to Emma
November 4th, 1838
A. my lovely children
B. people of God
C. careful not to trust them
D. have our families brought
E. I hope for the best
F. God have mercy on us
G. General Clark
G. General Clark
F. God has spared some of us thus far, perhaps he will extend mercy in some degree toward us
E. I have some hopes
D. bring you to me
C. true to every trust
B. May God give you wisdom
A. Those little children
Some writers have dismissed this chiasmus, saying that there is a 68% chance that this happened by chance, but I think if Joseph Smith wrote chiasms in each of his scriptures, why not in his personal writing?
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