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The Literary Structure of Alma 17–20: A 14-Unit Chiasm

TitleThe Literary Structure of Alma 17–20: A 14-Unit Chiasm
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsSquire, Derek
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
KeywordsAlma (Book); Ammon (Son of King Mosiah); Chiasmus; King Lamoni; Literary Structure; Repentance

This article is an analysis of the literary structure of Alma 17–20. These four chapters in the current Book of Mormon were originally a single chapter in the first edition of the Book of Mormon (originally, chapter 12). The current article describes a process and rationale that was used to identify several major literary units whose structure is no longer obvious with the division into four chapters. The original literary structure appears to have been written as a 14-part chiasm in which the matching units share many strong links and parallels. According to this analysis, the central units of this chiasm highlight the turning point of the narrative. Ammon preaches the gospel to King Lamoni, and Lamoni then proceeds to cry unto the Lord for mercy upon himself and his people. Thousands of Lamanites then repent and are converted unto the Lord. This critical episode in the Book of Mormon had far-reaching and long-lasting effects. It now appears that Mormon carefully structured this episode to help readers remember key events that transpired and to highlight its importance as a hinge point in Nephite/Lamanite history.