Morning Manna – July 16, 2019
The Reading for today is From Alma 2:35
Concerning Chiasmus in the Word of God:
“Alma 5:35 Neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, nor from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round.”.
This passage in Alma links the work or “course” of the Lord to His words that “he hath said.” If the course or work of God in the earth is “one eternal round” – his WORD must necessarily show that as well. It has been noted that within the Bible, especially the words of Isaiah, there exists a structure or form called “chiasmus” – so named because it reflects the structure of the Greek “CHI” or “X”. The two lines of this letter, which cross in the center, are a reverse reflection of each other, so in the structure of a chiasmus the topics (and usually key words are reverse reflections of each other around a central topic or message. The chiastic form is certainly not – in itself – an indication of inspired or scriptural virtue – such a structure can be seen in – for instance – the child’s nursery rhyme: “Old King Cole was a merry old soul; and a merry old soul was he”.
This starts with the first topic which is the subject: we label “A” – “Old King Cole”. It then proceeds to the central thought of the rhyme: we label “B” – “was a merry old soul”. We then see the reflection line of the same in Reverse Order:
“B`” – and a merry old soul.
“A`” – was HE. – (“he” being Old king Cole).
It may seem strange that I have linked the notion of an “eternal round” with the crossing of two straight lines But let us imagine, for a moment that we’re tracing a circle “AROUND” the globe starting at the North pole Point “A”, as we travel south we will pass through each latitude line “B”, “C”, “D”, etc… and when we reach the south pole which was the main point of the journey we will then proceed north passing through each of those latitude lines in REVERSE order --“D,” “C,” “B,” until we arrive at last at the North Pole again. Having completed this “round,” we should see that the latitudes we passed through, when listed, form that same chiastic pattern – even though this was a “round.” This passage in Alma tells us that the work of God (his “course”) is that great circle or “one eternal round” which – when described in words of prophecy will necessarily be chiastic in their structure. So not only should we be not surprised to see chiasmus in the scripture we should be looking for it – because the “X” crosses at the central or main point of God’s words that He would have us to understand more particularly. That is we should see the “X” of the chiasm as “marking the spot” like buried treasure on a map where God wants us to “dig” to receive the best benefit to our souls.
It is easy enough to manufacture a chiastic structure where words are concerned just by being repetitive – as in the nursery rhyme. It is, however, not the natural flow for writing either in prose or in poetry, and so when we see this structure THROUGHOUT the Book of Mormon and the revelations given through various prophets of God – such as the revelations given through Joseph Smith Jr., we should be not surprised, but we ought to look for those things to dig where “X” marks the spot of greatest import. Since the widespread existence of chiasmus in the words of Isaiah was not really “discovered” or commented on prior to the mid 1900s, we may have assurance that Joseph Smith did not manufacture that structure unknown by himself and others of that day. On the Forthecauseofzion-usa-brazil.org website the recent posting of a joint manifestation given to the presidency of the restructured church July 12 may be of some interest in this light – since the revelation was given at two different times to two different persons, the fact that the whole is chiastic is of special significance. The “latitude lines” of that manifestation I noted yesterday appear as follows:
Thus saith the Lord – the source
the unification of my church - the goal
re-establish the foundation of this church – the means
Do not strive to accomplish the work that is not your calling, leave unto me that which is mine to do. – the message
You are called to bring forth my Church out of darkness, - the message
Do not fall to the same temptation to rely on the learning of man, for if you will hearken to Me I will lead you, - the message`
Build up this little Kingdom of God – the means`
become one in all things, - the goal`
your Shepherd and your God – the source`
The red highlighted items seem to be where “X” marks the spot, being the main message God has for us
Holy Father we praise thee that you are unchanging from age to age and your course is, indeed, “one eternal round”. Because you are consistent, your words may be relied upon from age to age. We pray that we might be given grace to take hold of the “divine nature” in our souls that we may be a reflection of your will and word throughout the world, to thy name's honor and glory we pray in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.