Book of Mormon

Week 20: Alma₂’s counsel to his sons Helaman₂, Shiblon₂, & Corianton

Alma 36–42

12 March 2020


Additional reading and links

  • Alma₂’s testimony in Alma 36 is one of the longest and most complex examples of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon; it is a poetic and literary masterpiece. See See John W. Welch, “A Masterpiece: Alma 36,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, eds. John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 114–31.
  • Michael R. Ash, “The Sin ‘Next to Murder’: An Alternative Interpretation,” Sunstone 143 (November 2006): 34–43. Mike Ash argues that the serious offense for which Alma₂ chastised his son Corianton was not sexual sin (although that, in itself, is serious), but rather destroying their testimonies of the Zoramites through his bad example. In effect, Corianton committed “spiritual murder.” See also “KnoWhy #147: Why Was Corianton’s Sin So Serious?," Book of Mormon Central, last modified 20 July 2016. For the doctrinal reasons behind the seriousness of sexual sin, see Jeffrey R. Holland’s 12 January 1988 BYU address, “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments.”
  • In 1856 Brigham Young delivered an address in Salt Lake City in which he discussed, at length, the location of the post-mortal spirit world. See Journal of Discourses 3:367–73.
Chiasmus in Alma 36

This chart shows the major chiastic elements in Alma 36.


Stephen Ehat explains chiasmus and how Alma₂ used it to explain the atonement of Christ in Alma 36. (From Book of Mormon Central.)