Alma 9

 

The Lord Redeems His Covenant Children

      Alma 1 -- Alma 44


 

 

Alma 9:8-10 YOUR Fathers . . . OUR Father Lehi . . . OUR Fathers:

 

     When the crowd in Ammonihah became upset with Alma to the point that they were about to physically attack him, Alma attempted to counter that rage with a rhetorical argument. They had questioned his authority, declaring, "Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man among this people" (Alma 9:6) Alma responded:

     Behold, O ye wicked and perverse generation, how have ye forgotten the tradition of YOUR fathers; yea, how soon ye have forgotten the commandments of God. Do ye not remember that OUR FATHER, LEHI, was brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God? Do ye not remember that they were all led by him THROUGH THE WILDERNESS? And have ye forgotten so soon how many times he delivered OUR FATHERS out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of their own brethren? (Alma 9:8-10)

 

     Brant Gardner notes that by understanding the cultural background here, the reader can appreciate some of Alma's rhetorical tactics. Many of the people of Ammonihah had Hebrew ancestors, but their language, culture, and their God had become corrupted. They had become Mesoamericanized. They were caught between Old World Traditions and New World philosophies, specifically here the order of Nehor.

     By appealing to Lehi, Alma is appealing to what has come to be seen as the legitimate line of rulers--at least for the period prior to the reign of the judges if not thereafter. Thus Alma begins by an appeal to authority--the authority that allowed Mosiah to rule over a people he had almost literally stumbled into.

     This appeal to authority is done in a powerful way, for Alma indicates that these are THEIR fathers. Thus Alma is including the Ammonihahites in the tradition, and places them in a position where they should be "Nephites"--politically and religiously. Alma invokes an authority and a tradition that they must recognize, since they are a people that is under the political hegemony that is termed Nephite. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/Alma9.htm, pp. 3-4]

     Note* It also should be mentioned that the elements attributed by Alma to the tradition of Lehi ("being brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God," being "delivered out of the hands of their enemies," and being "led through the wilderness") would also have been part of the Mulekite tradition (compare Omni 1:15-16). These common elements might also have "struck a chord" in the heart of the people of Ammonihah who had Mulekite heritage. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Alma 9:19-23 Having . . . Having . . . Having . . . :

 

     According to Brian Stubbs, Book of Mormon language frequently contains lengthy structures of rather awkward English. Some may consider these to be instances of poor grammar, weakness in writing (Ether 12:23-26), or the literary ineptness of a fraudulent author; however, Stubbs sees them as potentially significant support for a translation from a Near Eastern language in an ancient American setting. . . .

     English, of course, employs participial phrases: Exercising daily and eating well, he remained healthy. However, the Book of Mormon's use of these participial expressions differs from typical English. Book of Mormon language uses them much more frequently, and some strings of these verbal expressions reach lengths not typical of English, for instance the thirteen consecutive having phrases in Alma 9:19-23--a sentence four verses long. [Brian D. Stubbs, "A Lengthier Treatment of Length," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 5/2 1996, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 82, 86]

 

Alma 9:19-23 Having . . . having . . . having . . . (Illustration): Consecutive "Having" Phrases in Alma 9:19-23. [Brian D. Stubbs, "A Lengthier Treatment of Length," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 5/2 1996, F.A.R.M.S., p. 86]

 

Alma 9:28 (Antithetical Parallelism):

 

     According to Donald Parry, antithetical parallelism is characterized by an opposition of thoughts, or an antithesis between two lines. This "antithesis is not in terms of contradiction, thesis and antithesis, but in opposite aspects of the same idea." (Jose Krasovec, Antithetic Structure in Biblical Hebrew Poetry (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1984): 137.) A good example of antithetical parallelism is found in Alma 9:28:

     1. If they have been righteous

           2. they shall reap the salvation of their souls,

                 3. according to the power and deliverance

                       4. of Jesus Christ

     1. and if they have been evil

           2. they shall reap the damnation of their souls

                 3. according to the power and captivation

                       4. of the devil.

[Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, p. xxvii; and Donald W. Parry, "Antithetic Parallel Structure in the Book of Alma," in The Book of Mormon: Alma, The Testimony of The Word, p. 288]