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The Chiastic Structure of the Bible

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Soyeong, May 23, 2020.

  1. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

    A chiasm is a literary technique that is found every book of the Bible, where it gives a sequence of thoughts and then repeats the pattern in reverse order. The bookends of a chiasm are kind of like paragraphs that show what was intended to be understood as a section of text, with the center of that chiasm being its main theme. Furthermore, because there are two portions of text that are both expressing the same idea, they provide commentary on each other that can help to correctly interpret them. They can range in length from one sentence to crossing several chapters, to the whole length of a book.

    For example:

    (Matthew 6:24)
    A No one can serve two masters;
    B for either he will hate the one
    C and love the other,
    C’ or he will be devoted to one
    B’ and despise the other.
    A’ You cannot serve God and wealth.

    Recently, I have come across a website that has an index that helps to track the chiasms in the the Bible. So far, they have the five books of Moses posted, but will be adding the four Gospels and the book of Acts on May 31st. So for example, the whole book of Genesis is itself one giant chiasm that is composed of 81 smaller chiasms or pericopes. However, the interesting thing is that these 81 chiasms can be divided in half and each of the halves also form their own chiasms. Not only that, but they can be divided into thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, eighths, ninths, tenths, and eighteenths and each section will form its own chiasm. This completely blew my mind, but the digging that I've done so far seems to confirm this pattern. Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mark, and Revelation are also composed of 81 chiasms, while Matthew and Luke both are composed of 145 chiasms, and the other books of the Bible also follow similar patterns.

    Sometimes is can be hard to determine how two pericope are expressing the same theme, but if there is enough to establish that the surrounding pericopes form chiastic pattern, then there must be a way in which the two pericopes have the same theme that the author is inviting us to discover. Furthermore, looking for a parallel theme when we are expecting there to be one can help us to correctly understand the themes of the pericopes and how they are connected.

    These complex chaistic patterns shown that the authors were being extremely intentional about everything that they were wanting to say and how they were wanting to say it. It shows that each jot and tittle has meaning and is there for a reason because adding or subtracting anything would disrupt the whole pattern of the book, which gives even more meaning to why Deuteronomy 4:2 commands against adding to or subtracting to the word that he had commanded. So if we come across things that seem strange why they are there, then we can try to see how it fits into a chiastic structure, which can then give commentary for why it is there.

    So if you're interested, then check out this site:

    Patterns Of Life Bible
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