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A Selection of Center Points - A literary structure for the presentation of doctrines of salvation

by Greg Carlston

Chiastic passages can be thematic. They can also be structural, where the words or phrases may be less
complete, but fit the principle of a list of concepts being given in one order and then repeated in the reverse
order. I see this as structural chiasmus. In structural chiasmus, what is said is important, but the way it is
being said is equally important. Thus, though they may be, the phrases don't have to be as complete as in
thematic chiasmus.
The following passages show the structure within which sacred principles are presented. These principles lie
at the center of a series of matching parallel concepts in a wide variety of chapters throughout the Standard
Works. These passages illustrate "Centrality within symmetry," one of the foundational principles employed
in chiasmus. As shown, sometimes whole phrases are repeated. But most times, the match is of individual
words, synonyms, antonyms, similar word forms, similar grammar, related metaphor, comparison, contrast,
prophecy/prophecy-fulfillment, and cause/effect, all of which are words or phrases that are in some way
associated with each other - even in a broad sense. You will notice that in some of the passages, the
alphabetical labels are not in sequence. This is done to indicate that the passages are excerpts of larger pieces
and have been excerpted and shortened in order to focus on the center point doctrines and to fit within this
article. It is important to note that where passages have been shortened, the text has been positioned to show
the chiastic format and no words have been rearranged. This may change the overall reading of the passage,
but the object of this article is to show how the center points of chapters from throughout the Standard Works
present important principles of the Gospel. All of the chapters that I have diagrammed have been selected
based just on my own personal interest. They were not selected in any particular order or for any specific
reason other than for my own curiosity about how they would look if diagrammed to show their chiastic
structure. Even though the chapters have been randomly selected, based on my experience of diagramming
almost 100 chapters, all chapters of the scriptures have the same beautiful symmetry that leads to a central
"turning point" in each respective chapter.

The Old Testament

Genesis 1:13-19
Interpretation 1
E and God saw that it was good. 13 And
F the evening and
G the morning were
H the third day. 14 ¶ And God said, Let there be
I lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them
be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for
J lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth and it was so.
K And God made two great lights;
K the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:
J he made the stars also. 17
I And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to
H rule over the day and over the night, and to divide
G the light from
F the darkness:
E and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 20

Interpretation 2
E and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day. 14 ¶ And
God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven
F to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for
G days, and years: And let them be for lights
H in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth and it was so.
I And God made two great lights;
J the greater light to rule the day, and
J the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17
I And God set them
H in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the
G day and over the night, and
F to divide the light from the darkness:
E and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 20

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
j Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as
k the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. 13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy
work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of
l the LORD thy God: in it
m thou shalt not do any work,
1
n thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor
o thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of
thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that
o thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as
n thou.15 And remember that
m thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that
l the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched
out arm: therefore
k the LORD thy God commanded thee to
j keep the sabbath day.

Comment: The above passage, a substantial chiasmus in itself, is found inside a larger chiasmus which is
an illustration of the depth of knowledge, artistry, and literary skill of holy men of God speaking and
writing as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21) This passage also shows that, in many cases
in the chiasmus of the Old Testament, the major point is at the beginning and ending with a subordinate
detail in the center. In the Book of Mormon, most often the significant point is at the center with
subordinate points at the beginning and the ending. If the Prophet Joseph had known the chiasmus of the
Bible put the important points at the beginning, why would he have put them at the respective centers of
long or short passages in the Book of Mormon?

Deuteronomy 5:4-26
K The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, 4
L the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory…
M we have heard his voice
N out of the midst of the fire…
O God doth talk with man, and he liveth. 25
O Now therefore why should we die?
N for this great fire…
M we hear the voice of the LORD our God… 26
L the voice of the living God speaking
K out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?...

2 Chronicles 20
Y Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of
this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but GOD's. 16
Z Tomorrow, go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye
shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 Ye shall not
need to fight in this battle: set yourselves,
A stand ye still, and see the salvation of
B the LORD with you,
C O Judah and Jerusalem:
D fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them:
D for the LORD will be with you. 18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face
to the ground: and
C all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping
B the LORD. 19 And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathite, and of the children of
the Korhites,
A stood up to praise the LORD GOD of Israel with a loud voice on high. 20 And they rose
early
Z in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth,
Y Jehoshaphat stood and said,...

Job1
R his house…
S his substance is increased in the land.11 But
T put forth thine hand now, and touch
U all that he hath, and
V he will curse thee to thy face.12 And
V the LORD said unto Satan, Behold,
U all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself
T put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 13 And there
was a day when
S his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in
R their eldest brother's house…

JONAH
R …for whose cause this evil is upon us;
S What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art
thou? And
2
T he
said unto them,
U
V I am an Hebrew; and I fear
W the LORD,
W the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10 Then were
V the men exceedingly afraid, and
U said unto
T him,
S Why hast thou done this?
R For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD,

Ezekiel
NOW it came to pass in the thirtieth
A year, in the fourth
B month, in the fifth
C day of the month, as I was…
D the heavens were opened, and
D I saw visions of God. In the fifth
C day of the
B month, which was the fifth
A year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,
A The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in
the hand of the LORD was there upon him. (4)And
B I looked, and, behold,
C a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a
Y their rings*
Z they were so high that
Z they were dreadful; and
Y their rings were full of eyes round about
C This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when
B I saw it and I fell upon my face, and
A I heard a voice of one that spake

(Comments: Reading the Book of Mormon makes Ezekiel perfectly clear. "Rings" as used here could
very well be explained in light of Alma 37:8 and D&C 3:2 "his paths are straight, and his course is one
eternal round"; The word "eyes" is symbolic of omniscience, all-knowing, the 'all-seeing eye.')

PSALM 23
A THE LORD is my shepherd;
B I shall not want. 2 He maketh
C me to lie down in green pastures:
D he leadeth me beside the
E still waters. 3
F He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me…
G Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for
H thou art with me;
I thy rod and
I thy staff
H they comfort me. 5
G Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
F thou anointest my head with oil;
E My cup runneth over. 6 Surely
D goodness and mercy shall follow
C me all the days of my life: and
B I will dwell in the house of
A the LORD for ever.

Isaiah 1
X Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.18
Y Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:
Z though your sins be as scarlet,
A they shall be as white as snow;
A though they be red like crimson,
Z they shall be as wool. 19
Y If ye be willing and obedient,
X ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But

3
The New Testament

Philippians 3:11-12
S That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and
T the fellowship of his sufferings,
U being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means
U I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.12 Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect: but
T I follow after, if
S that I may apprehend that for which also I am...

The BOOK of MORMON (compare to Ezekiel 1)


1 NEPHI 1
A the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of
B Judah,
C (my father,
C Lehi, having dwelt at
B Jerusalem in all his days); and in that
A same year there came many
A prophets, prophesying unto the people...
C Jerusalem must be
D destroyed…
K he saw the heavens open, and he thought …
L his throne, surrounded with numberless…
M singing and praising
N their God. 9…he saw
O One descending out of the midst of heaven, and…
P his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day. 10 And he also saw
twelve others following him, and
P their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament. 11 And
O they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and
N the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a ….
M such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!
L Thy throne is high in
K the heavens, and
D the destruction of
C Jerusalem, behold he went forth among…
A prophesy and to declare unto them concerning…

1 Nephi 8:24-26 (note the complex structure of the repetition)


G I beheld
H others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and
I they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until
1
I they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree. 25
1
H And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they
were ashamed. 26 And
1
G I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld,

Comment: In chiasmus, a list of concepts is given and then it is given again, but the second time it is
given in reverse. In most cases, the reversed order is the exact opposite of the first list. However,
concepts can be given out of order. The important consideration isn't always that the concepts are in the
opposite order, but that the concepts of the first list will be repeated somewhere in the second list -
which is shown in the above example.

2 Nephi 4:1-3
AND now, I,
A Nephi,
B speak concerning the prophecies of which
C my father hath spoken, concerning Joseph, who was carried into Egypt.2 For behold,
D he truly prophesied concerning all his seed.
E And the prophecies which he wrote,
E there are not many greater. And
D he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; and they are written upon the
plates of brass. 3 Wherefore, after
C my father had made an end of
B speaking concerning the prophecies of
A Joseph,

4
2 Nephi 2:2-3 (note: repetition of pronouns)
H Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness,
I thou knowest the greatness of God; and
J he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain. 3 Wherefore,
J thy soul shall be blessed, and
I thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother,
H Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art
redeemed…

2 Nephi 2:15
K to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man…
L all things which are created,
M it must needs be that there was an opposition;
M even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life;
L the one being sweet and the other bitter. 16 Wherefore,
K the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself...

2 Nephi 22:3-5 (Compare Isaiah 12.)


F my song; he also has become my salvation. 3 Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the
wells of salvation.4 And in that day shall ye say:
G Praise the Lord,
H call upon his name,
H declare his doings among the people,
G make mention that his name is exalted. 5
F Sing unto…

Ether 3:14-16
P Behold, I am Jesus Christ.
Q I am the Father and
R the Son.
a b b a
R In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name;
a
Q and they shall become my sons and my daughters.15 And never have I showed myself unto man
b
whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are
b
created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were acreated in the beginning after mine own
image.16
P Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the
body of my spirit; and even as

Doctrine& Covenants
Section 52
A BEHOLD, thus saith the Lord unto the elders whom he hath called and chosen in these last
days…
F And inasmuch as they are faithful…
N two by two…
S for the days come…
U And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things…
X He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth,
the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances. 17
X And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall
bring forth fruits…
U Wherefore, by this pattern…
S And the days have come; according to men's faith it shall be done unto them. 21…
N one man shall not build upon another's…
F if ye are faithful…
A Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and I will lift them up at the last day. Even so. Amen.

Section 89
A WORD OF WISDOM, for the benefit of
A the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion…
C Given for a principle with promise…
G wisdom by…
I strong drink among you, behold it is…
M God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man…
O beasts and of the fowls of the air,
P I the Lord, have
Q ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless
R they are to be used sparingly; 13 And it is pleasing unto me that
R they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.14
All grain is
5
Q ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be
P the staff of life, not only for man but for
O the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven…
M God made for the use of man….
I mild drinks, as also other grain…
G wisdom and great treasures of…
C give unto them a promise, that…
A the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

Pearl of Great Price


Moses 6:8-12
N Adam spake…
P the generations of Adam, saying:
Q In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 9 In the image of
S male and female,
T created
U he them, ,
V and blessed them
V and called their name Adam…
U they were
T created and became
S living souls in the land upon the…
Q Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his own
image, and called his name Seth. 11 And
P the days of Adam, after he had begotten Seth, were eight hundred years, and
N Adam lived…

Moses 6:42,43
B my fathers,
C a land of righteousness…
D the ways of God…
E I beheld a vision; and lo, the heavens I saw, and
F the Lord spake with me, and
G gave me commandment; wherefore, for this cause,
G to keep the commandment,
F I speak forth these words…
a b b a
E The Lord which spake with me…why counsel ye yourselves…
D the God of heaven…
C the earth …
B our fathers;

The 13 Articles of Faith (the central point is all about revelation)


H We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues,
and so forth.
I We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly;
I we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
H We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet
reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God

Revelations Given in our Day


The Living Christ: The Testimony of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles
As we commemorate the birth of
A Jesus Christ…
B we offer our testimony of the reality of
C His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.
I He was the creator of the earth.
L We solemnly testify that His life…
M He was the Firstborn of the Father,
N the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world..
R Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: ―
S His eyes were as a flame of fire;
T the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; .
T his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and
S his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters…saying: ―
R …I am he who liveth…
N the Only Begotten of the Father…
M begotten sons and daughters unto God‖ (D&C 76:22–24).
L We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood…

6
I He will someday return to earth. ―And
C our works and the desires of our hearts.
B We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that
A Jesus is the Living Christ…

The Family: A Proclamation to the World


A We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles…solemnly proclaim that
B marriage between a man and a woman is
C ordained of God and that the
D family is central to
E the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children…
A the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman,
lawfully wedded as
B husband and wife.
C We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.
C We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
B Husband and wife have
A a solemn responsibility…
E covenants…
D family responsibilities will one day stand
C accountable before God. Further, we warn that
B the disintegration of the family will bring...the calamities foretold by ancient and
A modern prophets…

Historical Documents
The Declaration of Independence
1
A The Unanimous
1
B Declaration of
1
C the Thirteen United States of America When, in the course of human events, it becomes
1
D necessary for
1
E one people to dissolve
1
F the political bands which have connected them with another, and to
1
G assume among
1
H the powers of the earth, the
1
I separate and
2
I equal station to which
2
H the laws of nature and of nature's God
2
G entitle them,
2
F a decent respect to the opinions of
2
E mankind
2
D requires that
2
C they should
2
B declare the causes which impel them to the
2
A separation.

Center point of the Declaration of Independence:


E3 ...mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the
inhabitants of these states: For
F3 cutting off our trade with all parts of the world: For
G3 imposing taxes on us
G4 without our consent: For
4
F depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of
4
E trial by jury:...