Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me,
Doth he not speak parables?
-- Ezekiel 20:49
How Chiasms & Parallels
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Chiasms and parallels can provide an
enormously valuable tool for understanding the scriptures and in unfolding
greater light and knowledge so crucial to comprehending the vital issues of
our day, thus facilitating the necessary course of action to bring victory for
the kingdom of God.
Chiasms and parallels, like parables, are by design
difficult to understand except for those who diligently seek and who have eyes
to see and ears to hear the voice of God as manifest through these means. They
are intended for those who will awake and put on strength to redeem Zion. For
such, the messages become plain.
The purpose of this write-up is to illustrate with several examples how
chiasms and parallels accomplish at least five purposes: (1)
they prove that the scriptures are inspired of God; (2)
they facilitate understanding of the scriptures; (3)
they provide additional valuable insight that goes beyond what we already
have, but which is consistent with what we have; (4)
their beauty and power increases faith in and inspires worship of God, who is
the author; (5) they sift the
hearts of men.
Hopefully this write-up with its commentary and explanations will serve the
purpose of priming the pump as it were, instilling sufficient interest (in the
profound messages) and direction (in how to perceive those messages) so that
the receptive reader might then be armed to understand chiasms and parallels
on their own, without commentary, and be able to benefit from this incredible
tool which the Lord has given us in this crucial day in which we live: the
valley of decision.
About Chiasms and Parallels
chiasms and parallels are poetic language patterns, in which ideas or
phraseologies are repeated, either in the same sequence (parallel) or in reverse
sequence (chiasm). A most basic example of a chiasm would be, "the first
shall be last, and the last shall be first," as illustrated to the right.
parallel is like the chiasm except that the ideas are repeated in the same
sequence. A most basic example of a parallel, in which the very words convey the
idea of a repetition of one line of text with another is, "line upon line,
line upon line" (Isaiah 28).
Like no two trees are exactly the same, though they have a similar general
appearance, no two poetic scripture forms are exactly the same, but they exhibit
an infinite variety. The chiasm has basically the pattern of <a,b,c,d,...,
n,n,..., d,c,b,a>, but within that may be variations such that b is repeated
twice, or c has two sub-parts, etc.
that the basic chiastic pattern (e.g. the general tree shape) is A,B,B,A. Abba
is a quintessential scriptural name for the Father (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal.
4:6), which is hugely appropriate as this approach is integral to the work of
A chiasm is a form of parallel, the only distinction being the direction in
which the matching sequence flows. Some synonym words for parallel, which
may help you relate to what a parallel is, are: comparison, contrast, analogy,
symbol, likeness, similarity, metaphor, simile, parable, allegory,
correspondence, correlation, identity, repeat, resemblance, symmetry, semblance.
The matching ideas can come in many different ways, including: rare words
being repeated, exact phraseology being duplicated or slightly altered,
synonymous words or ideas, antonym words or ideas, corollary words or ideas,
supplemental words or ideas. The most fundamental reason for noting such matches
is that it provides scriptural commentary on scripture: one phrase validates,
expounds, or builds on the other, and vise versa.
Thus chiasms and parallels produce a new line-up of words (the matching
sets), which convey a new idea. God designed the line-up; it is inherent in the
revealed usage of words. The ideas contained in the new line-up are likewise
intended by God. They often contain greater wisdom than the actual text itself,
building on the understanding of the primary text from which they come.
The two separate texts which form the match are like two individuals. By
themselves they are of great value and have much to contribute. But when joined
in a relationship, especially such as a man and wife in marriage, then there is
a synergism that develops. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The
offspring from such a union represent the new revelation contained in the match
up of the chiasms and parallels. It stems from the old, but is new, separate,
and of great value.
Not only do chiasms and parallels produce new insight, but they catalyze
greater understanding of the primary text itself. Another fundamental purpose of
the chiasms and parallels is to bear witness of the primary text. Also, the
beauty and power exhibited in the poetic form inspires increased faith in God
and reverence for his majesty. Furthermore, the chiasms and parallels have a way
of proving the metal of men.
Chiasms and parallels require both the mind and the heart to be fully engaged
with faith in God in order to be understood. The intellect is required because
of the analysis involved. The heart is required because of the intuitive
aspects, especially in the more abstract correlations. The Spirit of God is a
crucial ingredient in bringing these two into harmony, both in the discovery and
in the reading of chiasms and parallels. They were put there by God, and he is
the one who facilitates their discovery and understanding.
Generally, I have found that virtually everywhere I have looked I have found
these types of language patterns in the scriptures. For the most part, however,
I have limited my energy to those chapters of scripture which are in the first
place filled with great and marvelous concepts. The most enlightening
comparisons come in parallels between two completely separate chapters or even
books of scripture. My favorite is the parallel between Isaiah
28 and II Nephi 28,29.
Parallels and chiasms are not limited to language. The radial symmetry of a
flower is but one illustration of how they appear in nature. The universe of the
atom holds remarkable similarity to the structure of the solar system or of the
galaxy. A single cell may be compared to the entire human body: e.g. nucleus =
brain. Comparing and contrasting male and female attributes is not only amusing
but helpful. The same is true in comparing ideas such as church and state;
Eastern and Western; liberal and conservative; heart and mind; left-brain,
right-brain. Like with male and female, making such comparisons yields
surprising results so far as eliminating false
"Im-right-youre-wrong" thinking, when a balanced oneness is
intended. Climbing a mountain is a sort of chiasm, starting at the bottom, going
to the top, then returning. The parallels between the very young and the very
old provide an interesting commentary on the chiasm of mortality. The chiastic
parallels between the Jews anciently and the Mormons today are most instructive.
The parallels between scriptural history and modern history are likewise
profound and intentionally loaded with application. The phrase "history
repeats itself" is another way of saying there are parallels between
histories. Equally profitable are the parallels between the course of nations
over time and the progress of individuals through life. The number and scope of
parallels is infinite.
Parallels and chiasms are enormously useful tools for the mind and the heart
in harmony with God to be able to increase understanding and charity, and hence
their corollary godliness.
Chiasms and Parallels as Modern Parables
I generally do not provide commentary
on the chiasms or parallels I discover but let them stand as they are, for they
are designed such that those who have eyes to see will see, and those who do not
will not; hence the reader is not condemned by being given more than what they
are capable of receiving the principle of the parable. However, recently I
have been corrected and inspired by the following example from the Savior.
"But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were
alone, he expounded all things to his disciples." (Mark 4:34.)
The purpose of the current document is to expound on a sampling of chiasms
and parallels. These explanations are intended for an audience that seeks
earnestly to follow the Lord. I pray that if someone attempts to read this who
is not prepared for what it contains that the Lord will veil their
"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why
speakest thou unto them in parables?
"He answered and said unto them, Because it is given
unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not
given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more
abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he
"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they
seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in
them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall
hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not
perceive: for this peoples heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of
hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see
with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their
heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
"But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your
ears, for they hear."
Matthew 13:9-16; quoting Isaiah 6:9,10.
A Comparison: When New Scripture Comes Along
The New Testament is to the Old Testament what the Book of Mormon is
to the Bible. It is an additional witness and greater revelation prepared of the
Lord to bring his people further along in their progression toward the spiritual
and temporal kingdom of God. Likewise, the Book of Mormon is to the Bible (Old
and New Testament) what chiasms and parallels are to the scriptures that we have
already been given. They represent Greater Things. In and of themselves,
they are scripture, new scripture, built on the old.
To develop this comparison, let us take five main objectives of chiasms and
parallels and apply them to the Book of Mormon as it relates to the Bible and
then relate that to the chiasms and parallels.
Five of the fundamental features or purposes of chiasms and parallels are: (1)
to bear witness of the scriptures; (2)
to enhance understanding of the scriptures; (3)
to render new insights that go beyond the scriptures but which are in harmony
with them; (4) to glorify God in their beauty,
splendor and magnificence; (5) to
prove the hearts of men.
1. The Book of Mormon bears witness
of the Bible.
The Lord states in 2 Nephi 3:11 that the Book of Mormon comes forth
"to the convincing ... of my word, which shall have already gone
forth," namely, the Bible. Mormon 9:8,9 also say that "the
intent" for which "this [Book of Mormon] is written" is
"that ye may believe [the Bible]." My experience with the Book of
Mormon is that it has indeed been a primary tool in strengthening my conviction
regarding the fact that the Bible is the word of God.
Likewise, I bear witness that the chiasms and parallels are designed by the
Lord to further convince us of the truthfulness of the texts from which they are
derived, that the Bible, Book of Mormon Doctrine & Covenants, etc. are
indeed the word of God, scripture, the mind and will of God.
"And the angel said unto me that many shall see greater things
than these, to the intent that they might believe that these
signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to
the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of
men." (Hel. 14:28.)
2. The Book of Mormon enhances our
understanding of the Bible.
According to 2 Nephi 3:12 (in harmony with Ezekiel 37:16-19), the
record of Judah (the Bible), and the record of Joseph (the Book of Mormon)
"shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying
down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and
bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to
the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord." My experience with the Book
of Mormon is that it is without peer so far as providing an enormously helpful
resource by which we can understand the Bible as the Lord intended it.
Likewise, I bear witness that the chiasms and parallels enhance our
understanding of the primary texts from which they are derived, expounding verse
by verse, word by word, phrase by phrase what the various passages in the Bible,
Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, etc. mean, using the very words of
scripture as the illuminating commentary. Element A of a chiasm, for example, is
expounded by element A (A prime), its matching phrase, and vise versa.
That same phrase may be element D of a parallel structure, which aligns with yet
another phrase D, providing yet further commentary by the very words of
scripture on that phase. Because the existence of these poetic structures of
holy writ cannot be ascribed to the willful intention of man (they are far too
majestic for mans cognizance), the commentary provided by the matching
phrases of scripture, is a gift directly from God. I can say of them as Nephi
said of his record,
"And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the
earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not
in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will
believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ...; and they teach
all men that they should do good." (2 Nephi 33:10.)
3. The Book of Mormon renders new insights
that go beyond the Bible but which are in harmony with it.
The entire chapter of 2 Nephi 29 is devoted to addressing those who
might be tempted to exclaim, "A Bible, a Bible, we have got a Bible, and
there cannot be any more Bible!" In D&C 10:52, the Lord says,
"Behold, I do not bring it [the BofM] to destroy that which they have
received [the Bible], but to build it up." The previous chapter makes the
statement, "Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of
God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!" (2 Nephi
28:29.) It continues:
"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of
men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little;
and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my
counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give
more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken
away even that which they have." (2 Ne. 28:30.)
My experience with the Book of Mormon is that it indeed provides many
insights beyond what the Bible contains, though they are in harmony with the
Bible. The same is true of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Doctrine and
Covenants is very clear about the organizational layout of the physical church
of Christ. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants give much more insight
about the coming New Jerusalem than can be found in the Bible.
Likewise, the chiasms and parallels contain insights and understandings that
go beyond what the scriptures provide, though they are in harmony with the
scriptures. They are particularly poignant when it comes to understanding the
parallel between the Jews anciently and the Mormons today, the chosen people of
God, who are apostatizing from their divine commission and actually end up
opposing the very work they were foreordained to establish, namely Zion.
Meanwhile there is a core remnant who, despite that persecution, indeed
strengthened by that persecution, will awake, put on strength and redeem Zion.
They are who these messages are intended to resonate with, helping in that
awakening and strengthening process. The irony of this message with its polemic
against the Mormons is that it is derived from their own scriptures. This
message is found in the primary texts of the scripture, but becomes far more
poignant and expanded in the chiasms and parallels.
Regarding greater things and the Book of Mormon, Moroni said, "And whoso
receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections
which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am
Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you."
(Mormon 8:12.) That is a sure promise. I can bear solemn witness that chiasms
and parallels are a major means by which greater things are made manifest to
those who receive the Book of Mormon.
4. The Book of Mormon in its beauty, splendor
and magnificence glorifies God.
Regarding the Book of Mormon coming forth in addition to the Bible, the
"Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?
Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am
God, that I remember one nation like unto another?" (2 Ne. 29:8.)
The Title Page statement of the Book of Mormon, penned by Moroni, states that
the Book of Mormon is "to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what
great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; ...and also to the convincing
of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting
himself unto all nations." My experience with the Book of Mormon is that it
does indeed cause me to rejoice in my heart and shout praises to the Holy One of
Israel. My testimony of God and of the splendor of his works and his plan is
increased many-fold because of the Book of Mormon.
Likewise, my heart rejoices in the chiasms and parallels as they bear witness
of the majesty of God. One of the things which makes these things so utterly
astonishing is that Moroni, the final Book of Mormon author, said to God,
"And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the
awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like
unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote
were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them."
(Ether 12:24.) My experience is that not only are the translated words of the
Book of Mormon themselves marvelous, but they, including their chiastic and
parallel forms, exhibit a majesty that surpasses mans ability to express in
words. Many times I have wept while the Spirit of God courses through my being,
as I marvel at the Lords omnipotent and omniscient hand that is exhibited in
these magnificent poetic structures. This seal of the Holy Ghost is indeed the
ultimate signature of greater things.
5. The Book of Mormon sifts the hearts
of men.In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni stated,
"And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily
cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of
God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you,
which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as
one speaking out of the dust? I declare these things unto the fulfilling of
the prophecies.." (Moro. 10:27-29.)
Nephi similarly stated,
"Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are
his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his
bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these
things, notwithstanding my weakness." (II Nephi 33:10,11.)
As for greater things, such as are manifest through the chiasms and parallels
by the Spirit of God, the Lord had this to say,
"And when they [the Gentiles] shall have received this [the Book of
Mormon], which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith,
and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the
greater things be made manifest unto them. And if it so be that they will
not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them,
unto their condemnation." (3 Nephi 26:9; see also 2 Ne. 28:27-10;
Alma 12:9-11; Ether 4.)
"And...many shall see greater things ..., and this to
the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will
not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are
condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation." (Hel.
A Note About the Alphabetical Word and Number Studies
Though it goes beyond the scope of this present write-up, I
should at least mention that the alphabetic word and number studies (as well as
many other approaches to unfolding greater light and knowledge) also fill these
criterion of Greater Things. (1) They testify that the scriptures are
true. (2) They enhance our understanding of the scriptures. (3) They provide
additional insights that go beyond what is contained in the scriptures from
which they were derived, but which are consistent with the scriptures. (4) They
glorify God in their scope, specificity, majesty, and marvel. (5) They prove the
hearts of men.
A Note About PlainnessI completely concur with the sentiment that the Lord delights in
"For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the
Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto
the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto
their understanding." (2 Nephi 31:3.)
It is when his children are stiffnecked that he in sorrowful anger gives them
the desire of their hearts which is to stumble, giving them difficult things
which cause them to look beyond the mark. (Jacob 4:14.)
"And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine
utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness,
and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search
knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in
plainness, even as plain as word can be." (2 Nephi 32:7.)
My experience with the chiasms and parallels is that there is an ironic
attribute of plainness about them. Though they hide from view the plainness they
contain from those who are not willing to see, the saints who are built on the
rock will receive it with gladness as it sheds so much additional light of
clarification on the words of scripture we have been given. As they rejoice in
the word of God, they will rejoice in these tools which enable us to understand
much more plainly the mind and will of God as manifest in his words found in
Examples from the Chiasms and
When I write up chiasms and parallels
for general distribution, I offer almost no commentary other than a couple of
words here and there. My intent in this current write-up is to illustrate
clearly just how plain, consistent, important and timely the messages are that
are contained in these chiasms and parallels.
Before proceeding, let me proffer a disclaimer. I will tell you with
confidence that I am not perfect in my understanding. Nor is my ability to put
things into writing perfect. Rather, perfection is in Christ facilitated by the
Holy Ghost. Let me emphasize that my purpose in providing this commentary is not
to presume to have achieved the only correct interpretation. That is a
responsibility that each person must take up for himself, between he and God,
letting the Lord reveal and emphasize what is most appropriate for his life. It
is the Lord that you are to be relying upon. Then will my efforts be sanctified
At the same time, while confessing my weakness, I must express my personal witness
that the things you will be reading in the following pages are of God, as they
have been given to me by his Spirit. To be faithful in my responsibility before
God, I must inform you that you will be answerable before the Lord as to how you
receive these things. Inasmuch as a major function of chiasms and parallels is
to facilitate the receipt of greater light and knowledge from the Lord, and as I
will be expounding plainly what it is I see when I read these things, the
following pages will contain ideas that will be new to you. Do not simply
discard them because they are new or because they therefore seem different or
even wrong. Please be sure to adequately weigh them in your heart and mind. With
some of these concepts, "adequate" means an eternity of consideration,
with many-fold more additional evidence and expounding presented to you by the
Lord than what is presented here. This is but a small portion.
If there is one thing that becomes clear in all of this expounding, I hope it
is to evidence the principle that with the word of God "THE SLOWER YOU
READ, THE FASTER THE THOUGHTS COME." (Arthur Henry King) That is one of the
primary benefits of chiasms and parallels: their very nature requires the reader
to slow down and ponder, which engages both the heart and the mind, thinking and
feeling. You will see over and over how easily several paragraphs of ideas can
flow from but a short phrase of scripture. Each correlation is like a question
placed by the Lord before the reader, "What does this mean?" The
reader then, with faith in God, begins answering the question, and the Spirit of
God kicks in to confirm, elaborate, infuse new understanding, and instill
worship of God whose words these are. When I am doing this, and I come to a
correlation that stumps me, invariably, if I will kneel and pray, and confess to
God my lack of ability to comprehend without the Lords intervention, the
understanding opens up, a greater level of light is gained, and I can continue
to completion. I would consider it a high compliment if those who embark on
reading these pages spend more time looking up cross-references, feasting on the
words of Christ for themselves because of this catalyst, than they do actually
reading what I have here.
Most importantly, these concepts are not designed merely to be new or
additional knowledge. They are designed to bring about positive change
repentance in you, in your heart, in your mind, and subsequently to the
entire world, helping to build the kingdom of God on earth, spiritually and
temporally, church and government, heaven and earth together as one. That is my
prayer and my testimony which I proclaim in name of Jesus Christ, witnessed
powerfully to me by the Spirit of God, including now as I write this statement.
May the Lord be with you.
Sterling D. Allan; Mapleton, Utah; October 2, 1998
Chiasms & Parallels INDEX
Intro | Hybrids
| Bible-OT | Bible-NT
plates | BofM-large
plates | Doctrine
& Covenants | PGP |
Other | Dictionary |
in Script |
Diagrams | Chronological
| Commentary | Experiment
Page last updated on March 06, 2013
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