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If Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself, would we expect to see the archaic rhetorical device of enallages?

The Book of Mormon contains examples of “enallages” which are a syntactic technique found in the Bible that Joseph Smith would not likely have known about. 

Loren Blake Spendlove explains:

“Enallage,” derived from the Greek word meaning “interchange,” is an intentional substitution of one grammatical form for another, such as changing pronouns from the singular to the plural or vice versa. This intentional substitution can also involve different combinations of switching the form of personal address. For example, enallage can include switching from second-person to third-person address or other variations.

Loren Blake Spendlove – Limhi’s Discourse: Proximity and Distance in Teaching

An example is found in 1 Nephi 2:19-20

And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me saying, Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper and shall be led to a land of promise, yea, a land which is choice above all lands.

Another is found in Mosiah 7 when Limhi and his people were in bondage to the Lamanites. Limhi begins his address in chapter 7 by referring to the people he is talking to in the first and second person. 

O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made. Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God. (Mosiah 7:18–19)

In verse 25 Limhi suddenly shifts and begins referring to the same people he is talking to in the third person. 

For if this people had not fallen into transgression the Lord would not have suffered that this great evil should come upon them. But behold, they would not hearken unto his words; but there arose contentions among them, even so much that they did shed blood among themselves. And a prophet of the Lord have they slain; yea, a chosen man of God, who told them of their wickedness and abominations, and prophesied of many things which are to come, yea, even the coming of Christ. (Mosiah 7:25–26)

The shift is most obvious in verse 28:

And now, because he [Abinadi] said this, they did put him to death; and many more things did they do which brought down the wrath of God upon them. Therefore, who wondereth that they are in bondage, and that they are smitten with sore afflictions? (Mosiah 7:28)

Spendlove notes how:

This shift to the third person helped create distance between Limhi’s people and their actions. It allowed his people to view, perhaps a little more objectively, the severity of their crimes, including the murder of the prophet

Loren Blake Spendlove – Limhi’s Discourse: Proximity and Distance in Teaching

Limhi then reverts back to the first and second person in verse 32

And now, behold, the promise of the Lord is fulfilled, and ye are smitten and afflicted. But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 7:32–33)

Spendlove concludes:

Just as shifting to the third person created distance between his people and their actions, Limhi’s switch back to the second person in the final verses helped his people get a personal look at their dire situation and recognize a possible solution to their bondage. 

Loren Blake Spendlove – Limhi’s Discourse: Proximity and Distance in Teaching

How would Joseph Smith be able to include this syntactic technique while dictating a long and complex book?


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