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A BoM Didactic Tour de force: Alma 37:43-47


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At the end of Alma 37, Alma gives his final instructions to his faithful young son Helaman. After encouraging him always to be obedient to God’s commandments and to pray to God continually, Alma uses the Liahona as an object lesson to teach Helaman how to obtain eternal life through following the words of Christ. Using analogy, Alma compares the Liahona, the temporal compass provided by God to Lehi, with the words of Christ, the spiritual guide provided to all by God. In this remarkable passage, Alma, like all good teachers, repeats this image three times, and like a good Nephite teacher, he uses a parallelism to increase the impact.

Alma employs the alternate parallel form, one of the most common and effective forms of poetic parallelism in the Book of Mormon. It appears hundreds of times. An alternate consists of two or more lines that are repeated in parallel order. The simple alternate form is outlined ABAB. Extended alternates are outlined ABCABC, etc. 

 Alma uses three extended alternates in rapid sequence to instruct his son. 

 A   For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, 

    B   which will point to you 

        C   a straight course to eternal bliss, 

A   as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, 

     B   which would point unto them 

         C   a straight course to the promised land.

The A phrase compares the ease of heeding the words of Christ with the ease of looking at the Liahona. The B phrase describes the purpose of A which is to point the course. The C phrase declares the final destination of those who follow A, salvation and arrival at the promised land.

 A   For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, 

   B   by following its course, 

       C   to the promised land, 

A   shall the words of Christ, 

   B   if we follow their course,

       C  carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

The A phrase again compares the words of Christ with the Liahona, but in reversed order. The B phrase indicates what we should do with A – follow their directions, and the C phrase gives the destination of those who do B – the promised land and a far better place, eternal life. 

 A   for so was it with our fathers; 

   B    for so was it prepared for them,

      C   that if they would look they might live; 

A   even so it is with us.

   B   The way is prepared, 

      C   and if we will look we may live forever.

In this last alternate, Alma personalizes the analogies of the first two. The A phrase compares the Nephite fathers (Lehi and Nephi) with Alma and his son Helaman. The B phrase indicates that God prepared the ways of direction for all of them. The C phrase compares the physical salvation of the Nephite fathers by following the Liahona with the spiritual salvation promised to all of us who will look upon Christ.

Alma concludes his instructions with another impassioned fatherly plea that his son rise to the greatness of his calling.

This passage indicates deliberate logical planning on the part of Alma in giving crucial instructions to his son prior to his death. This is what Alma thought would be of most worth to his son - look to Christ. It gives us insight into the Nephite mind, especially that of a powerful and gifted leader. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the beautiful intricacies that await in its pages for us to discover. (Thanks to Donald Parry for his marvelous edition of the Book of Mormon. Poetic Parallelism in the Book of Mormon: The Complete Text Reformatted. Maxwell Institute, 2007).

 Your comments are welcomed. 

 Here is the passage in context.

Quote

 

Alma 37:43-45

And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things, which are spiritual.

 A For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, 

  B which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, 

A as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, 

  B which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? 

A For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, 

  B by following its course, 

  C to the promised land, 

A shall the words of Christ, 

  B if we follow their course,

  C carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way;

A for so was it with our fathers; 

  B for so was it prepared for them,

  C that if they would look they might live; 

A even so it is with us.

  B The way is prepared, 

  C and if we will look we may live forever.

And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. God unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.

 

 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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Bump for comments?

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Is it possible that there is an overall chiasm here:

Alma 1:1 - 45:19  Conkling JBMS 24/1:113

A  Alma’s ministry begins and ends in same place with same conflict: Nehor and the Amlicites;

B  .................3:3  early battles end with bodies of enemy thrown in river

C  .....................................5:34  drink/ partake . . . waters of life freely

D  ...............................................................7:5 sorrow, sorrow; 7:9 straight, 7:19 straight, 7:20 crooked, 7:20 shadow, 7:23 temporal, spiritual

E  ...........................................................................................................17:14  their hearts were set upon...gold and silver

F  .........................................................................................................................................21 religious freedom declared

G  ........................................................................................................................................................22  center

F'  .........................................................................................................................................23 religious freedom declared

E'  ...............................................................................................................31:24  their hearts were set upon...gold and silver

D'  ....................................................................37:43 temporal, spiritual, shadow, 37:44 straight, crooked, 37:45 sorrow

C' .........................................42:27  drink/ partake . . . waters of life freely

B'  ................44:22  final battles end with bodies of enemy thrown in river

A'  Alma’s ministry begins and ends in same place with same conflict: Nehor and the Amlicites;

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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17 minutes ago, Exiled said:

I always liked alma before the war chapters. I could always feel the emotion as he spoke to his sons one last time prior to being translated.

His knowledge, compassion, and intelligence are revealed in these conversations with his sons, especially Corianton. His words for Helaman are remarkable in content, clarity, precision, and intensity as he passes on the considerable responsibilities of teaching the people and keeping the records for future generations. 

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Is it possible that there is an overall chiasm here:

Alma 1:1 - 45:19  Conkling JBMS 24/1:113

A  Alma’s ministry begins and ends in same place with same conflict: Nehor and the Amlicites;

B  .................3:3  early battles end with bodies of enemy thrown in river

C  .....................................5:34  drink/ partake . . . waters of life freely

D  ...............................................................7:5 sorrow, sorrow; 7:9 straight, 7:19 straight, 7:20 crooked, 7:20 shadow, 7:23 temporal, spiritual

E  ...........................................................................................................17:14  their hearts were set upon...gold and silver

F  .........................................................................................................................................21 religious freedom declared

G  ........................................................................................................................................................22  center

F'  .........................................................................................................................................23 religious freedom declared

E'  ...............................................................................................................31:24  their hearts were set upon...gold and silver

D'  ....................................................................37:43 temporal, spiritual, shadow, 37:44 straight, crooked, 37:45 sorrow

C' .........................................42:27  drink/ partake . . . waters of life freely

B'  ................44:22  final battles end with bodies of enemy thrown in river

A'  Alma’s ministry begins and ends in same place with same conflict: Nehor and the Amlicites;

Alma 22, the center, is the conversion of Lamoni’s father. Do you think this serves as the pivotal point of this chiasmus? How does it relate to both sides?

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16 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Alma 22, the center, is the conversion of Lamoni’s father. Do you think this serves as the pivotal point of this chiasmus? How does it relate to both sides?

Don't know, as I am working from Conkling's analysis.  However, it is noteworthy that the Great King is converted, along with his people.  That is a remarkable event by any measure.

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Double post. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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On 7/19/2018 at 5:23 PM, Bernard Gui said:

At the end of Alma 37, Alma gives his final instructions to his faithful young son Helaman. After encouraging him always to be obedient to God’s commandments and to pray to God continually, Alma uses the Liahona as an object lesson to teach Helaman how to obtain eternal life through following the words of Christ. Using analogy, Alma compares the Liahona, the temporal compass provided by God to Lehi, with the words of Christ, the spiritual guide provided to all by God. In this remarkable passage, Alma, like all good teachers, repeats this image three times, and like a good Nephite teacher, he uses a parallelism to increase the impact.

Alma employs the alternate parallel form, one of the most common and effective forms of poetic parallelism in the Book of Mormon. It appears hundreds of times. An alternate consists of two or more lines that are repeated in parallel order. The simple alternate form is outlined ABAB. Extended alternates are outlined ABCABC, etc. 

Is Alma the only person in all the LDS canon to use the Liahona as an object lesson to teach someone how to obtain
eternal life through following the words of Christ?

Thanks,
Jim

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1 hour ago, theplains said:

Is Alma the only person in all the LDS canon to use the Liahona as an object lesson to teach someone how to obtain
eternal life through following the words of Christ?

Thanks,
Jim

Probably not. I’m not sure why you are asking, but the OP was about parallelisms, not the Liahona.

I suggest you go to lds.org and do a search for “liahona” to get an answer, or perhaps you can explain what you are looking for. .

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21 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Probably not. I’m not sure why you are asking, but the OP was about parallelisms, not the Liahona.

I suggest you go to lds.org and do a search for “liahona” to get an answer, or perhaps you can explain what you are looking for. .

You brought up the Liahona in your post, hence my question to you.

Thanks,
Jim

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10 hours ago, theplains said:

You brought up the Liahona in your post, hence my question to you.

Thanks,
Jim

Why does that matter? Are you asking me to research LDS leaders using the Liahona as an object lesson comparing it with the words of Christ for you? I’m not sure I understand what you want.

Nephi wrote this....

Quote

1 Nephi 16:26 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord said unto him: Look upon the ball, and behold the things which are written.
27 And it came to pass that when my father beheld the things which were written upon the ball, he did fear and tremble exceedingly, and also my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and our wives.
28 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.
29 And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.

And there is this....

Quote

So we see, brethren and sisters, that the words of Christ can be a personal Liahona for each of us, showing us the way. Let us not be slothful because of the easiness of the way. Let us in faith take the words of Christ into our minds and into our hearts as they are recorded in sacred scripture and as they are uttered by living prophets, seers, and revelators. Let us with faith and diligence feast upon the words of Christ, for the words of Christ will be our spiritual Liahona telling us all things what we should do. https://www.lds.org/ensign/2004/05/the-words-of-christ-our-spiritual-liahona?lang=eng

 

Any comments on the three poetic extended alternate forms Alma composed to teach his son about faith?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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