Alma 36 to 38 – “Look to God and Live”

July 20, 2020 to July 26, 2020

Alma’s sermons focus on the blessings of accepting the atonement of Christ. Each of his sermons is infused with his memory of his sin, his repentance, and his conversion.

“Alma’s Conversion: Reminiscences in His Sermons,” S. Kent Brown, A Book of Mormon Treasury: Gospel Insights from General Authorities and Religious Educators
Alma uses his conversion experience as a persuasive teaching tool. The three-day period during which he received a visit from an angel and underwent a remarkable change enabled him later to speak from experience as he preached repentance and the cleansing power of the word of God. Not only did he illumine the dark, awful state in which persons find themselves if they do not repent, but he could especially beam light on the indescribable joy that accompanies forgiveness of sin. At base, he sought earnestly that others be born of God as he had been.

Chart 106: “Three Accounts of Alma’s Conversion” Charting the Book of Mormon
Compares the accounts in Mosiah 27, Alma 36, and Alma 38.

“A Masterpiece: Alma 36,” John W. Welch, Rediscovering the Book of Mormon
Alma 36 has long been heralded as an example of an extended chiasm. John Welch lays out his detailed analysis of the chiasm and explains how the entire chapter functions as a beautiful, poetic whole.

“Does Chiasmus Appear in the Book of Mormon by Chance?” Boyd F. Edwards, W. Farrell Edwards, BYU Studies Quarterly 43, no. 2
The chiastic structure of Alma 36 is purposeful, as evidenced by a statistical examination of the text. The authors lay out the criteria for a study of literary elements and their methods. The center of the structure is verse 18, the cry for mercy to Jesus Christ.

“When Are Chiasms Admissible as Evidence?” Boyd F. Edwards, W. Farrell Edwards, BYU Studies Quarterly 49, no. 4
This article discusses the authors’ statistical admissibility tests to verify whether a chiasmus in a work shows strong evidence of intentionality by the original author, comparing Alma 36 to other proposed chiastic structures.

“The Voice of an Angel,” John A. Tvedtnes, Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited
Tvedtnes explores the incidents where angels show up in the Book of Mormon text, particularly in reference to Alma’s conversion story. In Alma 36, Alma speaks to his son Helaman about his experience with the angel of God, which spoke with a voice of thunder.

“My Servant Gazelem,” John A. Tvedtnes, Book of Mormon Research
The word Gazelem appears in Alma 37 in reference to seers and oracles. It is unclear if this word is refering to a person or to a seer stone. Tvedtnes explains this word’s appearance in reference to Joseph Smith, the seer and prophet of the Restoration.

“Light or Dark, Freedom or Bondage: Enhancing Book of Mormon Themes through Contrasts,” Blair G. Van Dyke, Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel 6, no. 3
Alma 38 portrays Shiblon as steady, faithful, and diligent. By contrast, Corianton is boastful and wicked. These contrasting narratives parallel other contrasts throughout the Book of Mormon.