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Is Chiasmus a fairly well-known topic among Church members?


Is Chiasmus a fairly well-known topic among Church members?  

13 members have voted

  1. 1. When did you learn about Chiasmus?

    • Before High School / Seminary
      1
    • During High School / Seminary
      6
    • While serving a Mission
      2
    • During College / Institute
      1
    • After College / Institute
      3
    • I'm not familiar with that term
      0


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I was wondering if Chiasmus was a fairly well-known topic among Church members or not.  I first heard about it from a friend in High School, but I really learned what it was during my mission.  How about you?  If you haven't heard of it, please respond as well, since I'm interested if it's well known or not.

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My first exposure to chiasmus was when I was in high school, when I read about it in the February 1972 Ensign article, by John W. Welch.  But I didn't fully appreciate it until many years later. 

Hopefully most members of the church (who pay attention) should be familiar with it by now, especially since last year's Come Follow Me for Individuals and Families - Book of Mormon, manual discussed chiasmus in the July 20-26 lesson on Alma 36, and it referred interested readers to the church Institute's Book of Mormon Student Manual, p.232-33, where the chiasmus in Alma 36 is outlined.

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8 hours ago, Webster said:

.................. I'm interested if it's well known or not.

Don't know how well known it is, but it has been discussed and publicized for a long time now, so many LDS members have likely heard of it.  The literary and poetic structure of the BofM probably is not first on anyone's list for understanding the BofM.  Moreover, most do not realize that chiasmus underlies the structure of the Caractors Transcript (formerly erroneously called the "Anthon Transcript"):  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wPmvYinbbXLbvATnuksAOzZbmLLlL_H5/view?usp=sharing.  Egyptian is normally read from Right to Left.

Over and above that, the place where chiasmus is most obvious is in the bilateral symmetry of ancient Egyptian temples and monumental inscriptions:

St. Petersburg, Russia - 01.16.2020. Ancient Egyptian inscription on the stone in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg

Stone Inscription, Hermitage, St Petersburg.

Note the  mirror-image quality of the inscription.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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I read John Welch's essay in the New Era, in the early 70s, when it was the youth magazine.  And then, much else over the years.   There was a time, several decades back that the Relief Society Manual had lessons on it, under the theme of cultural refinement.  

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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21 hours ago, Webster said:

I was wondering if Chiasmus was a fairly well-known topic among Church members or not.

I think "fairly well-known" is probably the right characterization.

I think it's one of those things that most observant members who've been in the church for a while have at least heard about / come across, but it isn't the sort of thing that necessarily interests lots of people.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I believe that I first heard of it while I was on my mission. If I recall correctly, it was mentioned in Wayne May's The Mystic Symbol: Mark of the Michigan Mound Builders?, which my companion and I were watching at a member's home on P-Day.

I could be wrong, though.

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I think that generally, most people are familiar with the concept of chiasmus, being exposed to it and using it themselves, but without having a name for it or even a consciousness of what they're doing. I was again reminded of the frequency of chiasmus by the lyrics of the famous John Denver song, Country Roads:

Quote

 

Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue Ridge Mountain, Shanandoa River,
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong,
West Virginia,
Mountain mamma, take me home
Country roads

All my memories, gather round her
Miner's lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye

Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong,
West Virginia,
Mountain Mamma, take me home
Country roads

I hear her voice in the morning hour as she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
Driving down the road I get a feeling
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong,
West Virginia,
Mountain Mamma, take me home
Country roads

Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong,
West Virginia,
Mountain Mamma, take me home
Country roads

Take me home, that country road
Take me home, that country road

 

The chorus has a striking chiastic structure:

A Country Roads,             (identical)

B take me home               (identical)
C To the place                  (shared theme: place)

I belong,                            (central idea)
West Virginia,                   (central idea)
C Mountain Mamma,        (shared theme: place)

B take me home                (identical)
A Country roads               (identical)

 

Chiastic structure is very much a part of everyday language, where conversations are often structured around A)Greetings, B)Small talk, C)Important Information, B)Small Talk, and A)Farewell. And this generic pattern has a useful purpose. The As (Greeting and Farewell) signal the beginning and end, the small talk Bs help to establish context, all to deliver the central message C.

It is no coincidence that such a pattern is also very common in prayer, too! 

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