An Easter egg is a fun hidden feature or message. You get an Easter egg when you type DO A BARREL ROLL in the Google search box. Would you believe that there are Easter eggs in the Book of Mormon, too?
Moroni’s writing in Ether 12:23-25 predicts that unbelievers will mock the Book of Mormon because of the awkward writing.
And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them; And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them. Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.
And maybe they mock with good reason! To the naive reader, the passage above seems to be a jumbled mass of stumbling, redundant sentences. But it is not. The naive reader has been fooled. The above passage is actually a finely structured chiasm. Chiasmus is a form of poetry used by classical Hebrew writers in which a sequence of words or ideas is repeated in reverse order. Jesus gives both a definition and an example of a chiasm in Matthew 19:30:
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Even the biblical chiasms that are easy to see in English would have been even more apparent in the original Hebrew. Here’s a chiasm from Genesis 9:6 [ESV]:
Who sheds the blood of a man, by a man shall his blood be shed.
In Hebrew this sentence has exactly six words, arranged in the form ABCCBA:
Moroni’s large chiasm is in the form ABCDEEDCBA. It may look like a mess in English, but as Hebrew poetry, it’s a work of art.
The Lord responds with, “Fools mock, but they shall mourn.”
The center of the chiasm summarizes the prophets’ frustration: their inability to effectively express their inspired words in writing. Moroni had previously referred to his awkwardness in writing in Mormon 9:33:
And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.
This scripture suggests that the awkwardness (or imperfection) of writing in the Book of Mormon is at least partially due to the difficulty of converting the thoughts (and writing style?) of the authors from Hebrew into other languages. In fact, the classic Hebrew poetic structure of Moroni’s writing suggests that it was originally composed in Hebrew. By putting this text in the form of a chiasm, Moroni is demonstrating his skill in Hebrew poetry, although the English version seems awkward because of the repeated words and phrases.
By pointing out Moroni’s skillfully written poetry, we show mockers that what they thought was weakness is in fact strength. And thus, Moroni’s weakness in writing has “become strong,” poetically mocking those “fools” who mock it. This little Easter egg suggests Book of Mormon prophets may have had a sense of humor.
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