Janus Parallelism: Book of Mormon Hints? Part 4

As an addendum to the Janus parallelism issues recently raised here (see “Janus Parallelism in the Hebrew Bible: Could It Also Be in the Book of Mormon?” and “Janus Parallelism, Book of Mormon Hints”: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), here are two more possible examples from the Book of Mormon:

Possibility #11: In Janus Parallelism in the Book of Job on page 41 and later on page 132, Scott Noegel
discusses a Janus parallelism in Job 3:25-26 in which a single Hebrew
word can mean “stir up, quarrel with” or “dread, fear.” The Book of
Mormon often uses “stir up” for those fomenting anger against the
Nephites or the righteous, as well as for righteous people striving to
get sinners to repent. Thus, it is usually colocated with “anger” or
themes related to “repentance.” But in a couple of cases, its use is
linked to “fear” and thus in theory might be able to function as a Janus
parallelism similar to the one discussed by Noegel. Enos 1:23 is one

23 And there was nothing save
it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and
contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death,
and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God,
and all these things — stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord….

translated, “stirring them up” looks back to the statement on the need
to preach with “exceeding harshness” and continually remind the people
of the threats of death and damnation. The proposed alternate reading
related to “fear” and “dread” would also look forward to the following
statement about the “fear of the Lord.”

A related possibility comes from 2 Nephi 28:18-20:

But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the
earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.

19 For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of
men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

we interpret the destruction and shaking of the kingdom of the devil
with dread and fear, then in verse 19 the word translated as “stirred
up” could be looking backward to the dread the devil faces and the
terrifying need for those under his power to repent. But if they don’t
repent, they are bound by his chains and, in a repeated instance of
“stirred up,” led to anger and death. If this is a case of a Janus
parallelism, it is interesting that the pivotal word is repeated, with
two instances of “stirred up” around the reference to “everlasting
chains.” Both can relate to fear associated with the description in the
preceding passages (destruction of the devil’s kingdom and his grasping
of victims with everlasting chains), while both can also relate to being
stirred up (to repentance or anger). It could function as a Janus
parallelism with its face split in two. But here the meanings linked to
fear and dread are implicit in contrast to the explicit use of “fear” in
Enos 1:23.

Possibility #12: On pages 97-98, Noegel explores Janus parallelisms in Job 29:20-23 that includes use of a Hebrew word that can mean “pierce” or “renew.” The relevant root is  חָלַף, chalaph, Strong’s H2498 (for the meaning of “pierce,” see the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon entry on the link I provided). In the Book of Mormon, Jacob’s use of “pierce” in Jacob 2:9 may use a similar wordplay:

8 And it supposeth me that they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul.

9 Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.

“Pierce their souls” obviously is parallel with the following phrase, “wound their delicate minds,” but an alternate reading of “renew” would be parallel to the preceding phrases about consoling, healing, and feasting upon the word. Similar parallelism may be at play in another case of “pierce” in this chapter, Jacob 2:35, coupled with the next verse, Jacob 3:1:

35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the
Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender
wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad
examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God
against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which
cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.

1 But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in
. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with
exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he
will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your

The reading of “pierced” looks back to his words to the wicked whose sins brought the result that “many hearts died.” But an alternate reading of “renew” would look forward to his contrasting words to the pure in heart, to whom Jacob says God “will console you.” The structure of “wound–pierce/renew–console” is essentially the same but in reverse order of what we saw in Jacob 2:9 with the first instance of “pierce” in the Book of Mormon. To me, it looks like Jacob is deliberately linking “console” to “pierced” in both of these cases in Jacob 2 as if there were a Janus parallelism in his original text. Wishful thinking?

Again, it seems to be the early writers in the Book of Mormon that provide the tentative examples of Janus parallelism.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

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