The Deliberate Use of Hebrew Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies
Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
In his work on poetic parallelisms in the Book of Mormon, Donald W. Parry has demonstrated that that book is replete with Hebrew poetry and parallelisms such as chiasmus. Through analyzing individual texts, this paper seeks to determine whether the patterns Parry points out are deliberately included in the Book of Mormon. Texts selected for the analysis include those that (1) are self-contained with regard to the larger narrative, (2) are explicitly included as embedded documents, and (3) whose authorship is clearly stated or implied; twenty texts totaling 884 verses meet those criteria. After analyzing the percentage of each texts that has parallelisms, it becomes clear that texts created for oral recitation (sermons) have a substantially higher percentage of parallelisms than those created for written circulation (narratives, proclamations, and letters). Since a major purpose of poetic parallelisms is to facilitate memorization for oral delivery, this means we find parallelisms precisely where we would expect them to appear in the Book of Mormon, thus lending credence to the hypothesis that these parallelisms are deliberate and not accidental.