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About Julie M. Smith

Julie M. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in English and from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, with an MA in Biblical Studies. She is on the executive board of the Mormon Theology Seminar. Julie is married to Derrick Smith; they live near Austin, Texas, where she homeschools their three children. She also blogs for Times & Seasons (www.timesandseasons.org), where she is the book review editor.

A Redemptive Reading of Mark 5:25-34

In what is surely one of the saddest tales in the Bible, Jephthah vows that if granted success in battle, he will sacrifice the first person to cross the threshold of his home upon his return. Tragically, it is his only child, a daughter, who hurries out to meet him (Judges 11:29-34). New Testament scholar Mary Ann Beavis shows that this harrowing text has many similarities to the story of Jairus and his daughter in the Gospel of Mark (5:21-24 and 35-43).1 Mark’s story, however, has a joyous outcome: Jairus intercedes for his daughter, and Jesus raises her from the dead. Beavis calls this a motif inversion,2 meaning the text in Mark establishes similarities to Jephthah’s story to encourage the audience to compare the events, only to reverse course and have the story end on a very different note. In other words, Mark suggests correspondences but then shows how, when the story plays out in Jesus’ life, it has a dramatically dissimilar ending. Beavis also discusses another widely recognized example of motif inversion in Mark: in the story of the calming of the sea (Mark 4:35-41), there are many echoes of the story of Jonah (1-4). Jesus, like Jonah, is asleep in a boat and is awakened by questions when a terrifying storm threatens. But Jesus, of course, is no Jonah. The motif is inverted as Jesus, who initially parallels Jonah, takes on the role of God, and, being the only one who can, calms the storm. Continue reading

A Note on Chiasmus in Abraham 3:22-23

Chiasmus, or inverted parallelism, is well-known to most students of Mormon studies;1 this note explores one instance of it in Abraham 3:22-23:

A Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was;

B and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

C And God saw these souls that they were good,

D and he stood in the midst of them, and he said:

E These I will make my rulers;

D’ for he stood among those that were spirits,

C’ and he saw that they were good;

B’ and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them;

A’ thou wast chosen before thou wast born. Continue reading


  1. See John W. Welch, “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 10, no. 1, 1969. See also John W. Welch, Chiasmus in Antiquity, available at http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/book/chiasmus-in-antiquity/