Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:

The Scalp of Your Head: Polysemy in Alma 44:14–18

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Published by:
Interpreter A Journal of Mormon Scripture
Published:
6/3/2016
Specs:
Digest / 5.25" x 8.25"
12 pages Saddle-stitched
Category:
Religion
Tags:
Alma, apologetics, lds, mormon, Mormonism, polysemy

The fear that Moroni’s soldier’s speech (Alma 44:14) aroused in the Lamanite soldiers and the intensity of Zerahemnah’s subsequently redoubled anger are best explained by the polysemy (i.e., multiple meanings within a lexeme’s range of meaning) of a single word translated “chief” in Alma 44:14 and “heads” in Alma 44:18. As editor of a sacred history, Mormon was interested in showing the fulfilment of prophecy when such fulfilment occurred. Mormon’s description of the Lamanites “fall[ing] exceedingly fast” because of the exposure of the Lamanites’ “bare heads” to the Nephites’ swords and their being “smitten” in Alma 44:18 — just as “the scalp of their chief” was smitten and thus fell (Alma 44:12–14) — pointedly demonstrates the fulfilment of the soldier’s prophecy.

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