There are 6 thoughts on ““What Thank They the Jews”? (2 Nephi 29:4): A Note on the Name “Judah” and Antisemitism”.

  1. I always love your work, Matt, but I do have a couple of caveats:

    1. You may not have been emphatic enough on the future place of the Jews in God’s plan, and you might have cited Romans 11:1-7 (even today, Jews say that they are saved by a covenant of grace, not by works), 27-32, Jacob 4:14-17, 5:61-68,75 (natural Israel is grafted back into the mother tree as at first, and then the end comes). This is also not usually stated strongly enough about Isaiah 2:1-3.

    2. The term “antisemitism” was a good euphemism when it was invented over a century ago in order to deal with the odious nature of anti-Jewish beliefs and behavior in Europe, and since no other Semites lived there then. Now, however, we have millions of Arabs living in the West, and it is rather odd to sometimes hear people accuse Arabs of antisemitism due to their anti-Jewish behavior. How can a Semite be antisemitic? The term has clearly become unsuitable, incongruous, and malapropos. If the term were meant to apply to race hatred against both Jews and Arabs, then perhaps we could usefully apply it. However, that is not the case, and anti-Jewish hatred and action should be called by its real name, and prosecuted as a hate crime when applicable.

    • Hi Bob,

      As always, thank you for your kind comments and helpful feedback! Regarding point #1: yes, I could have said much more about that (especially regarding Jacob 5). In fact, I intend to during my presentation on Jacob 5 at the TMZ II conference. 🙂 Regarding point #2: I agree that “antisemitism” is, in many ways, an outmoded and imperfect descriptor of anti-Jewish behavior and thought. I steered clear (as I am sure you noticed) of the topic of anti-Jewish behavior and thought in the Muslim world for the sake of brevity and focus, although that is a critically important topic. You have, in fact, given me some good ideas on how topics related to this article can be readdressed and advanced in the future. Again, thank you!

      Very best,


  2. Thanks for the insights into the echoes of “Judah” in the Book of Mormon. Do you think 2 Nephi 29:3–6 is chiastic? And did you consider how its structure might relate to the idea of thanking the Jews? I’ve seen this passage divided into many chiastic levels by others, but this is how it seems most stable to me:

    [A] And because my words shall hiss forth — many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean?

    [B] Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews,

    [C] and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?
    [C’] O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people?

    [B’] Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.

    [A’] But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people. Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

    Level A/A’ – Bible, Bible, no more Bible! Fools! Jews, the Lord’s people, are to be thanked for the Bible. Bible received/obtained from the Jews.
    Level B/B’ – Triads of negatives endured by the Jews
    Level C/C’ – Reasons for “Gentiles” to praise/thank the Jews.

    The ideas of thanks and praise are in the inner and outer levels, where they would receive the most focus. There also seems to be an interplay between center and outer levels regarding the Jews as the “ancient covenant people” who are not “remembered” by the Gentiles yet are not “forgotten” by God.


    • You’re off to a good start, Stan. However, you might want to take a look at the somewhat more detailed layout by Don Parry, Poetic Parallelisms in the BofM (Maxwell Institute, 2007), 122-123, in which he presents it as ABCDEGHHGEDCBA (I don’t know why he left out the F). This puts the Gentiles at center, and the Bible at the flanks. Not so different from your own analysis.

      • Thanks. I actually saw that one but was being conservative. I’m not sure the author intended all that detail, and when you’re trying to see how chiastic structure is being used to convey meaning, the forest can get hidden by the trees.

        Anyway, I appreciate how your paper contributes to the appreciation of the Book of Mormon as ancient fine literature. These plays on words are like Easter eggs–poetic surprises hidden by the English translation.

        • Hi Stan,

          Thank you for your kind comments! As Bob has noted, you are in good company in your analysis of the structure of this passage (Don Parry is very good company!).

          Very best,

          Matt Bowen

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