Saturday, January 14, 2017

Enallage in the Book of Mormon

Enallage is a figure of speech used to refer to the use of tense, form, or person for a grammatically incorrect counterpart. The word comes from the Greek through Late Latin meaning an "interchange," a derivative from the base of enalláttein “to give in exchange.” It is the use of one grammatical form in place of another, as the plural for a singular in the editorial use of we, i.e., “We had a hard time meeting that deadline,” when in reality it was only one person that had a hard time, etc. 
As an example, Shakespeare quite deliberately wrote, “Is there not wars? Is there not employment?” (2nd Henry IV, l, ii), where he uses enallage to achieve parallel structure. Such statements from history: “We was robbed,” meaning my team was robbed of victory; “I ain’t got no dogs in that fight!” from a politician; and Byron’s statement: “The idols are broke in the temple of Baal.”
    One of the greatest advancements in biblical studies since the time of Joseph Smith has been the recognition and analysis of Hebraic poetic forms in scripture. And it has been even more exciting to find these same poetic forms in the Book of Mormon. These findings obviously attest to the latter book's source language being a variation of Hebrew. They also attest to the authenticity and historicity of the book, as no one in 1829 in the environment of Joseph Smith had the knowledge to deliberately include these biblical Hebrew forms in the Book of Mormon. Also, the idea that someone might have included them quite by chance is unthinkable. 
    One example is Hebrew parallelism, including chiastic parallelism, which much has been written about over the years. Another form of Hebrew found in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon is this enallage. Typically, Hebrew poetry produces grammatical changes in the text not usually found in ordinary prose. Rather than being examples of textual corruption or blatant error as some critics and scholars have claimed, the grammatical variance, when analyzed, provides evidence of the poetic form.
    Enallage refers to a grammatical convention that allows an author to switch personage in order to secure a deliberate literary effect (Kevin I. Barney, "Enallage in the Book of Mormon." JBMS 3/1 [1994]: 113-47 and "Divine Discourse Directed at a Prophet's Posterity in the Plural: Further Light on Enallage." JBMS 6/2 [1997]: 229-34).
    Two types of enallage have been described   
1. The first is "from distance to proximity."
2. The second is "divine discourse directed at a prophet's posterity in the plural."
    From distance to proximity. This peculiar title means a shift in person. That is, after speaking of an individual in the third person (i.e., he, she, them) a poet will at times switch to second-person references (you singular, or you plural) in order to portray a special emotional attachment to the subject of his address. While a sudden shift in person would seem highly inappropriate in prose, grammatical variations are typical in forms such as enallage.
    Several biblical example are notable:
    One is found in the Song of Solomon 1:2: "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth," declares the female vocalist as she appeals to her lover in the third person. Then, in an emotional shift that poetically draws the lover into the woman's presence, she declares, "for thy love is better than wine." Having initially addressed her lover in terms of a distant relationship, the woman is then free to express her closer or more intimate attachment with a more direct form of speech.
Jeremiah is concerned with divine condemnation of Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah "As I live, declares the Lord, if Coniah…were a signet on my right hand, I would tear you off even from there, I will deliver you into the hands of those who seek your life…I will hurl you at the mother who bore you into another land, where you were not born; there you shall both die" (Jeremiah 22:24-26). In this passage, the Lord first speaks of Coniah in the third person, and subsequently moves to a more intimate address.
    Notice Job's lament and railing against the Lord: "He has truly worn me out; you have destroyed my whole community" (Job 16:7). And Micah praises the redemptive nature of the Lord God: "He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities, You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19).
    The same pattern is found in this popular Davidic psalm, he begins his praise of the Lord by referring to him in the third person: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” At this point in the psalm, the now familiar dramatic shift from third person to second person occurs: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (Psalm 23).
    In the enallage pattern, then, the author begins his poetic presentation with a third-person address. The author is then free to express his feelings for his subject as if that individual suddenly stood in the poet's presence. This dramatic shift allows the author to share a direct emotional attachment with that individual initially addressed in the third person.
    This same pattern occurs in the Book of Mormon. A good example is found in the so-called "psalm of Nephi." Note how Nephi begins his psalm by referring to his subject in the third person:
“My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me. Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the nighttime” (2 Nephi 4:20-23).
    Like the psalmist above, Nephi then shifts to praising God with second-person references: “Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation. O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin? May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road! O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way-but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy. O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm” (2 Nephi 4:30-34).
    Then notice that in the following verse, which is the last verse of the psalm, Nephi switches back to the third person, then back again to the second person: “Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God” (2 Nephi 4:35).
    Divine discourse directed at a prophet's posterity in the plural. Another type of enallage or "interchange" is a pattern in which the author intentionally shifts from singular to plural forms for rhetorical effect and emphasis. In this pattern a divine being or prophet directly addresses an individual using the singular, "thou." He then makes a third-person reference to that individual's posterity, "thy seed." Finally, he directly addresses the individual and his posterity together in the second-person plural, "ye." It is easy to identify that pattern (1 Nephi 12:9).
    "And he said unto me: Thou rememberest the twelve apostles of the Lamb? Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them; for ye are of the house of Israel."
    For other examples, see Genesis 17:9-10); 2 Nephi 1:31-32; 3:1-2).
    Once again, we see the authenticity showing up in the Book of Mormon in such ways that could not have possibly been known to Joseph Smith, or anyone else connected to the early effort of the plates and the printing of the translation.

1 comment:

  1. The LDS critics say that anyone can do chiasmus, and it was common.
    Of all the college English classes and writing classes I took, I was never ever taught about chiasmus. I did not know what it was when I first read about it being in the Book of Mormon.

    As usual, another fantastic article.