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Chiasmus Conference Speakers

Chiasmus: An Open Conference on the State of the Art

August 15 – August 16, 2017

Joseph Smith Building, Brigham Young University

Daniel C. Peterson

Moderator for Session 1

Daniel C. Peterson is founder of the Interpreter Foundation.  A native of southern California, Peterson received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and Philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, where he has taught Arabic language and literature at all levels, Islamic philosophy, Islamic culture and civilization, Islamic religion, the Qur’an, and the introductory and senior “capstone” courses for Middle Eastern Studies majors.  

Neal Rappleye

Chiasmus Criteria in Review

Neal Rappleye is Research Project Manager at Book of Mormon Central and has published in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.  He is a researcher and contributor of many “articles” posted on the Book of Mormon Central website and is co-editor of Knowing Why: 137 Evidences that the Book of Mormon is True, a book that is scheduled to be published by Covenant Communications this year (2017).  Neal Rappleye is a popular presenter and has participated at the 2014, 2016, and 2017 Book of Mormon Conferences and the 2017 FAIR Mormon Conference.

Boyd F. Edwards

Statistics, Probability, and Evaluation of Chiasmus

Boyd F. Edwards received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics from Utah State University and a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University.  He taught physics at West Virginia University for twenty-four years and, in 2005, he became Dean and Executive Director of Utah State University-Uintah Basin.  In 2015, Edwards joined the Physics faculty on the Logan campus of Utah State University, where he currently serves as a professor of Physics.

Boyd and his father, W. Ferrell Edwards, co-authored four articles using statistical analysis to evaluate chiasmus. These articles include: “Does Chiasmus Appear in the Book of Mormon by Chance?”, BYU Studies, vol. 43, no. 2 (2004) 103-129 and “When Are Chiasms Admissible as Evidence?”, BYU Studies, vol. 49, no. 4 (2010) 131-154.

Stephen Kent Ehat

Characteristics of Chiasmus: Identifying, Evaluating, and Appreciating Chiastic Texts with Care, Concern, and Humility

Stephen Kent Ehat received his Juris Doctorate from J. Reuben Clark Law School and is a practicing attorney in the state of California.  He first learned of chiasmus when John W. Welch published his article entitled, “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon” (New Era, February 1972) and has been a student of chiasmus ever since.  Ehat has done extensive research identifying chiasmus scholarship and structure analysis.  His large personal chiasmus collection has been donated to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University and will become part of the library’s Chiasmus Archive. 

Noel B. Reynolds

Chiasmus and Hebrew Rhetoric

Noel B. Reynolds is professor emeritus of Political Science at Brigham Young University.  He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.  Dr. Reynolds has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Edinburgh University, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Noel Reynolds authored two articles about his findings of chiastic structures in the Book of Mormon which were published in BYU Studies Quarterly: “Nephi’s Outline,” BYU Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2 ((1980) pp. 131-149 and “The Political Dimension in Nephi’s Small Plates,” BYU Studies, Vol 27, No 4 (1987) pp. 15-37.  Dr. Reynolds’ most recent article entitled “Chiastic Structuring of Large Texts: Second Nephi as a Case Study,” will be published this year (2017).

Robert F. Smith

Moderator for Session 2

Robert F. Smith is a graduate of Brigham Young University, with advanced work and studies in ancient Near Eastern languages at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at UCLA.  Throughout his career, Smith has done research, translating, and writing on chiasmus.

Smith authored the chapter entitled “Chiasm in Sumero-Akkadian” in Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis (Hildesheim: Gerstenberg Verlag, 1981/reprint Provo: FARMS/Research Press, 1999) 17-35.  He has also provided English translations of key works by prominent chiasmus scholars Yehuda Radday, R. Weiss, and Jona Fraenkel. These translations can be found in the John W. Welch Chiasmus Collection located at the Harold B. Lee Library.

Bernard Levinson

The Pleasures and Perils of Chiasmus: Some Case Studies from Exodus and Deuteronom

Bernard Levinson is a professor of Classical and Near Eastern studies and also a professor of Law at the University of Minnesota. He holds the Berman Family Chair in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible.  Professor Levinson received his B.A. degree in English and Intellectual History from York University in Toronto and a M.A. in Religious Studies from McMaster University.  He spent a year as Visiting Researcher in Bible and Semitic Languages at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before returning to the States and receiving a Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. Before teaching at the University of Minnesota, Professor Levinson taught at Middlebury College in Vermont, Pennsylvania State University, Indiana University, and was a visiting scholar in the Faculty of Protestant Theology at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. The interdisciplinary significance of his work has been recognized with appointments to the Institute for Advanced Study; the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Berlin Institute for Advanced Study; and the National Humanities Center. He is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Bernard Levinson is the author or editor of twenty publications specifically relating to chiasmus. This bibliography covers discussions of chiasm-related material: chiasm, chiastic parallelism, ring composition, and Seidel’s Law (inverted or chiastic citation).

David Rolph Seely

“With Outstretched Hand and with Strong Arm” (Deut 4:34); “With Strong Arm and with Outstretched Hand” (Jer 21:5): Chiasmus in Deuteronomy and Jeremiah

David Rolph Seely is professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University.  He has a B.A. in Greek and an M.A. in Classics from Brigham Young University.  Seely also received a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan in Near Eastern Studies.  Professor Seely is a member of the international team of scholars that translated the Dead Sea Scrolls and published, together with Moshe Weinfeld, the Barkhi Nafshi hymns from Qumran.  He has co-authored the books, My Father’s House: Temple Worship and Symbolism in the New Testament, Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament, and Solomon’s Temple in Myth and History.

Dr. Seely’s published work on chiasmus includes “Implanting Pious Qualities as a Theme in the Barki Nafshi Hymns,” pp. 321-31 in The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after their Discovery 1947-1999.  He also authored Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress, July 20-25, 1997, eds. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Emanuel Tov, and James C. VanderKam. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society in cooperation with the Shrine of the Book, 2000.  David Seely is currently finishing Moshe Weinfeld’s Deuteronomy commentary for the Anchor Bible series, where chiasmus is used as part of the textual analysis.

Donald W. Parry

Chiasmus in the Text of Isaiah: MT Isaiah Versus the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa)”

Donald W. Parry is a professor of the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls at Brigham Young University.  He holds the Abraham O. Smoot Professorship, which honors his work as a scholar and teacher.  Parry has served as a member of the International Team of Translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls since 1994 and is a member of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation Board of Advisors.  He has authored or edited forty books, publishing on both biblical and non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls.  While most of his books are directed to the academic (international) community – scholars, universities, and libraries – many are written for the Latter-day Saint community.  Parry has also written more than eighty articles which have appeared in various journals, conference proceedings, and other venues.

Professor Donald W. Parry is the author of Poetic Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon: The Complete Text Reformatted, Provo: Maxwell Institute for Religious Research (2007). This book contains over 325 examples of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon – probably the largest collection on chiasmus in a hardcopy book.

Royal Skousen

Poetic Structures and Textual Criticism of the Book of Mormon

Royal Skousen is professor of Linguistics and English Language at Brigham Young University. He received bachelor degrees in English and in Mathematics from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Before joining the faculty of BYU, Skousen was an assistant professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin.  During his career, Skousen has been a visiting professor at the University of California, San Diego, a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Tampere in Finland, and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Professor Skousen has been the editor of the Book of Mormon critical text project since 1988. In 2009, Skousen published with Yale University Press the culmination of his critical text work, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. He is also known for his work on exemplar-based theories of language and quantum computing of analogical modeling.   

Jacob A. Rennaker

Moderator for Session 3

Jacob A. Rennaker is the Scholar in Residence with the Widtsoe Foundation.  He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Ancient Near East Studies and received an M.A. in Comparative Religion from the University of Washington.  Rennaker’s doctorate in Religious Studies was received at Claremont.  As the Widtsoe Foundation’s Scholar in Residence, Rennaker is responsible for presenting scholarly papers on behalf of the Foundation at a variety of academic conferences, including those held by the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology.  Rennaker is responsible for implementing the Widtsoe Foundation’s initiative of collaboration with interfaith efforts.

Gary A. Rendsburg

Chiasmus in the Book of Genesis

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. His teaching and research focus primarily on the language, literature, history and archaeology of ancient Israel. Rendsburg previously taught at Cornell University and Canisius College.  Dr. Rendsburg has also served as visiting professor or visiting research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, Colgate University, UCLA, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, and the Hebrew University.  Rendsburg is the author of seven books and about 170 articles – his most popular book is The Bible and the Ancient Near East, co-authored with the late Cyrus Gordon.  In addition, he has produced two courses for the “Teaching Company – Great Courses” program, one on “The Book of Genesis” and one on “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” His forthcoming book is entitled How the Bible Is Written, with particular attention to the use of language to create literature, to be published by Eisenbrauns in 2018.

Gary Rendsburg’s published work on chiasmus includes The Redaction of Genesis (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1986, 2014) and the article, “Redactional Structuring in the Joseph Story: Genesis 37-50,” in Mappings of the Biblical Terrain: The Bible as Text (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1990).

Steven R. Scott

Chiasmus in Gilgamesh and the Genesis Flood Story and Methodology and the Macro-Structure of John

Steven R. Scott is a professor in the Theology Department at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Dr. Scott received a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Toronto with a specialization in the Ancient Near East, Middle East, and the Bible.  Both his M.A. and Ph.D. were received at the University of Ottawa and were in Second Temple Judaism and New Testament Studies respectively.  Dr. Scott has a keen interest in chiastic studies and has devoted a large part of his career in researching, writing and presenting on chiastic structures in ancient text.  A major part of his PhD was a chiastic analysis of the Gospel of Mark, focusing on the Raising of the Dead stories.  He has also done research on chiasmus in Genesis, John and the Gilgamesh.

Through the years, Professor Scott has presented scholarly papers in Canada, Chicago, Amsterdam, Waterloo, London, Fredericton, and Rome.  These presentations included discussion of chiastic structures in the Abraham story, Daniel, and the Gospels of Mark and John.  Scott has also researched and presented on criteria for judging chiastic structures. 

John W. Welch


Narrating Homicides Chiastically

John W. Welch is the Robert K. Thomas Professor of Law in the J. Reuben Clark Law School and also serves as editor in chief of Brigham Young University’s premier academic journal, BYU Studies Quarterly.  He received his bachelor’s degree in History and master’s degree in Latin and Greek from Brigham Young University.  Welch studied at Oxford University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and then received his J.D. from Duke University. It was Welch who first identified chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. Throughout his career, Welch has continued his interest in chiasmus as it presents itself in ancient texts.

Among his many interdisciplinary publications, John W. Welch has authored or edited an impressive number of articles and books specifically on chiasmus.  The 1981 landmark publication on chiasmus, Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analysis, Exegenesis, has been reprinted (Provo, UT: Research Press, 1994) and is still used by chiasmus scholars today. Welch was the general editor of the book and contributed the introduction and three chapters to this work, which was originally printed in Hildesheim, Germany.

Kerry Hull

Chiastic Messaging in Mesoamerican Texts

Kerry Hull is professor of Religion at Brigham Young University.  He earned a B.A. in Spanish and in French in 1992 from Utah State University.  He received a M.S. in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University in 1993.  A Ph.D. in Linguistic Anthropology was completed by Hull at the University of Texas at Austin in 2003.  Professor Hull’s academic interests include Maya linguistics and anthropology, Polynesian linguistics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, and Maya epigraphic studies.  He has conducted linguistic, ethnographic, and archaeological fieldwork in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. 

Professor Kerry Hull was co-editor of Parallel Worlds: Genre, Discourse, and Poetics in Contemporary, Colonial, and Classic Maya Literature (University Press of Colorado, 2012).  Hull’s Ph.D. dissertation (printed by UMI) was entitled Verbal Art and Performance in Ch’orti’ and Maya Hieroglyphic Writing. 

Eric D. Huntsman

Moderator for Session 4

Eric D. Huntsman was born in New Mexico, but was raised in upstate New York, western Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.  He received a B.A. in Classical Greek and Latin from Brigham Young University and then earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Ancient History at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Huntsman began his teaching career at Brigham Young University as an instructor of Classics and Ancient History and later transferred to the College of Religious Education as a professor of Ancient Scripture.  After spending a year teaching at the BYU Jerusalem Center, Huntsman was appointed coordinator of the Ancient Near Eastern Studies program in 2012.  

George Mlakuzhyil S.J.

Christocentric Literary-Dramatic Structure of John’s Gospel and Chiasmus

George Mlakuzhyil is a Jesuit priest who has devoted his life to Jesus and John.  He is the director of the Society of Jesus, Navjivan Renewel Center in the New Delhi area of India. Father Mlakuzhyil studied in Ranchi and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1966.  He studied philosophy at Shenbaganur, had his theological formation in Vidyajyoti College of Theology at Delhi, and was ordained a priest in 1973.   Professor Mlakuzhyil did the Licentiate in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he received his doctorate degree.  Fascinated by the Fourth Gospel’s Christocentric structure and its theology and spirituality, he devoted many years to doing research on the Johannine Gospel in Rome and to teaching it in the Jesuit theologate in Delhi. 

Mlakuzhyil’s extensive writings include his classic work on chiasmus, entitled The Christocentric Literary Structure of the Fourth Gospel. That study was his doctoral dissertation and was published in Rome in 1987 by the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Father Mlakuzhyil performed post-doctoral research on the Gospel of John in 2008 at Berkeley, California and published an enlarged, second edition of his 1987 work, now titled the Christocentric Literary-Dramatic Structure of John’s Gospel, published in 2011. 

Wayne Brouwer

The Chiastic Structure of the Farewell Discourse in the Fourth Gospel

Wayne Brouwer holds degrees from Dordt College (B.A.), Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div., Th.M.), and McMaster University (M.A., PhD.).  He is currently a professor of Religion at Hope College in Holland, Michigan where he received the student-initiated “Faculty Appreciation Award” (2014) and the “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” award (2016).  He also is an adjunct professor of Theology and Ministry at Western Theological Seminary. Brouwer has pastored congregations in Alberta and Ontario, Canada and in Michigan.  He has served as a missionary teacher in Nigeria and has taught at several colleges and seminaries in North America.  Wayne Brouwer has a weekly radio program on WHTC, is a sought-after speaker and teacher in area churches, and serves as Academic Dean at the Church Leadership Center.

Brouwer has authored more than 800 journal articles and has written a dozen books, including The Literary Development of John 13-17: A Chiastic Reading (SBL).

H. Douglas Buckwalter

Jesus and the Roman Centurion (Matt 8:5–13): A Window to Chiasmus and Apostolic Pedagogy

Douglas Buckwalter is professor of New Testament at Evangelical Seminary at Wheaton College. Professor Buckwalter received his B.A. and M.A. at Wheaton College and then studied in Scotland at King’s College, University of Aberdeen, where he received his Ph.D.  Before starting his career at Evangelical Seminary, Buckwalter worked as a free-lance editor of various theological and biblical reference works with Baker Book House and Zondervan Publishing House.  Soon after returning to the States after finishing his post-graduate studies in Scotland with Professor I. Howard Marshall, Buckwalter began his teaching career at Evangelical.  In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Buckwalter also edits the Evangelical Journal, a semi-annual journal published by the seminary.

Among the many articles written by Douglas Buckwalter, he was author of The Character and Purpose of Luke’s Christology, published by Cambridge University Press (1996), reprinted in 2005.