"There is so much more in the Book of Mormon than we have yet discovered. The book's divine architecture and rich furnishings will increasingly unfold to our view, further qualifying it as 'a marvelous work and a wonder' ...The Book of Mormon is like a vast mansion with gardens, towers, courtyards, and wings. All the rooms in this mansion need to be explored..."
-Neal A Maxwell

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chiasmus: Ether 10:23

The ubiquity in the Book of Mormon of chiasmus, a literary device in which a series of expressions or ideas are presented in a particular sequence, then again in reverse sequence, has long been cited by believers as evidence supporting the book's authenticity. Found throughout the Bible and the literature of many ancient cultures, its presence in the Book of Mormon bolsters the claim that Lehi and his family brought "the learning of the Jews" with them to the New World. 

Here's one short but very clear chiasmus I noticed a few days ago in Ether 10:23

A And they did work in all manner of ore, 

B and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; 

C and they did dig it out of the earth;

C wherefore, they did cast up mighty heaps of earth 

B to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. 

A And they did work all manner of fine work.

Many Book of Mormon chiasmi (apparently that's the plural form--the spell checker likes that, but not "chiasmuses") feature Christ or one of his attributes as the central idea. The central theme here, however, is rather mundane, but there may be a purpose for that. In Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon [revised edition], authors Joseph and Blake Allen cite another "mundane" chiasmus, found in Alma 46:39-41, as an example of how "history, geography, wars, climate, a monetary system, and cultural patterns" [1] are used as symbols of Jesus Christ: 


(Sorry that Blogger's formatting tools stink to high heaven, leaving me little choice but to scan straight from the book into .jpg format.) 

My question, then, is what symbolism can we find in Ether 10:23, given that the central theme is the act of digging "out of the earth"?

[1] Joseph L. Allen, Blake J Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, Rev. ed. (Orem, Utah : Book of Mormon Tours and Research Institute, LLC, 2011), 38.

[2] Ibid., p. 40.
[3] Ibid., p. 42.

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