Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Alternate Punctuation for Alma 37:46

Today I was reading in Alma 37 in the Book of Mormon and noticed that if the punctuation was changed slightly in verse 46 then it would highlight an interesting parallel structure that otherwise is broken up by the current punctuation. Originally there was almost no punctuation in the first transcript of the Book of Mormon and John Gilbert, the typesetter, was the one who put it all in for the first edition. He did an incredible job, but this may be one case where he may have unintentionally set the punctuation so that it broke up the natural parallel structure of the text. Below I have the text of verse 46 with the current punctuation. There are two sentences, and it creates a break mid verse.
O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. 
The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
Now I will change the punctuation, turn it into three sentences, and highlight the inherent parallel structure of the verse.
O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way. 
For so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live.
Even so it is with us, the way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
If a new period is added after "...the easiness of the way" that sets apart the following parallel structure and if we move the phrase "even so it is with us" into the last sentence we have:
Fathers → Way is prepared → Look → Might live
Us → Way is prepared → Look → Live forever
This structure is so much more interesting and enlightening.

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