Chiastic structures have been known for about two centuries. According to Thomas B. Clarke “Several European publications in the 1700’s and 1800’s discussed the symmetric arrangement of Scripture, the most notable being John Jebb and Thomas Boys. However, it was not until the 1920’s that Nils Lund published articles about the chiasmus in the United States.
Below is a short video on how chiastic structure was discovered by John ‘Jack’ Welch in the Book of Mormon, while on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on August 16, 1967.
The following is a comment from a Masters of Divinity student following his viewing of the above video.
“Thank you so much for this video! I’m a masters of Divinity student, becoming a hospital Chaplain. I have to study and create just ONE chiasmus. We study just ONE for 8 weeks! Just this alone has brought my mind back to the Book of Mormon and how the hundreds of Herbrewisms (chiasmuses, parallelisms, etc) make it impossible for a modern, English speaking person to know all the intricate ins and outs of the Hebrew way of writing…so much so, that within a few short months produced a book with hundreds of these!”
This student has pointed out the difficulty in writing this literary structure. As he mentions, there are hundreds of these in the Book of Mormon, which he points out take a great amount of time to produce just one. The man who gave us the Book of Mormon produced it in approximately 65 days of writing amidst much conflict in his life. If he wrote this book personally, he would have had to be some sort of genius, or would have had to have known how to write Chiastic literary structures before they had even been discovered. This is only one of many literary forms found in the Book of Mormon. However, Joseph Smith was no literary genius, had but a grade 3 or 4 education, and certainly did not know about Chiasmus. Perhaps only his explanation of an angel and a record on metal plates can explain it.
The following is the first chiastic structure discovered by John Welch. This scripture is found in Mosiah 5:10-12 in the Book of Mormon.
In 1972 an explanation by John Welch about Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon was published in the New Era, the magazine for members in 1972 of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I encourage you to read this article as it is highly informative. The link below will take you to that article.