Archive for July, 2010


A    1    12:1  Boasting is necessary,

       2    though it is not profitable;

B    but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.

C    1    2  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago

       2    – whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body

       3    I do not know,

       4    God knows

       −> C last line:    5    – such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

C’   1    3  And I know how such a man

       2    – whether in the body or apart from the body

       3    I do not know,

       4    God knows

       −> C’ last line:    5    –  4  was caught up into Paradise,

B’   and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.

A’   1    5  On behalf of such a man I will boast;

       2    but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.


Read Full Post »


A    1  “Arise,

B    shine;

C    for your light has come,

D    And the glory

E    of the LORD

F    has risen upon you.

G    2  “For behold, darkness will cover the earth,

G’   And deep darkness the peoples;

F’   But the LORD will rise upon you,

E’   And His

D’   glory will appear upon you.

C’   3  “And nations will come to your light,

B’   And kings to the brightness

A’   of your rising.

Read Full Post »


The following chiasmus was developed by Joanna Dewey.  Her own full explanation is here.

The skinny is this:

“The five pericopae appear to be combined in a chiastic pattern according to content:  A, the healing of a paralytic, contains a healing of the resurrection type; B, the eating with tax-collectors and sinners, concerns eating; C, the question about fasting, fasting; B’, plucking grain on the Sabbath, eating again; and A’, the man with the withered hand, contains another miracles of the resurrection type.  The chiastic pattern is also to be seen in details of form and language.” 


“1  And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home.  2  And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.

A    [A healing story:  legs]    3  And they came^, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men.  4  And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.  5  And Jesus seeing their faith said^ to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”  6  But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,  7  “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”  8  And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said^ to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?  9  “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say,’ Arise, and take up your pallet and walk’?  10  “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– He said^ to the paralytic–  11  “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.”  12  And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

B    [Eating wrong:  with tax-gatherers and sinners]    13  And He went out again by the seashore; and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.  14  And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said^ to him, “Follow Me!” And he rose and followed Him.  15  And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.  16  And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?”  17  And hearing this, Jesus said^ to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

   [On not eating at all:  fasting]    18  And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came^ and said^ to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 

a    19  And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom do not fast, do they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 

b    20  “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day

a’   21  “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results.  22  “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” 

B’   [Eating wrong:  on the Sabbath]    23  And it came about that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.  24  And the Pharisees were saying to Him, “See here, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  25  And He said^ to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and became hungry, he and his companions:  26  how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave it also to those who were with him?”  27  And He was saying to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  28  “Consequently, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

A’   [A healing story: a hand]    3:1  And He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there with a withered hand.  2  And they were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, in order that they might accuse Him.  3  And He said^ to the man with the withered hand, “Rise and come forward!”  4  And He said^ to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent.  5  And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said^ to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 

And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.



A few comments.

1)  Mark probably started off this chiasmus with the 2 healing stories in A/A’ because they give Jesus ‘authority’ right at the start (authority via displays of supernatural power).  Mark enjoys starting off with material that ‘gives’ Jesus authority.  It’s a trade-mark of his. 

2)  Mark likes 5-part chiasmi.  4 out of the first 5 sub-sections in Mark are 5-part chiasmi.

3)  Mark likes placing future-related teachings in the center of his structures.  Hence, Jesus’ statement in C:  “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” 

(In case you’re interested, the above statement is written chiastically:    a    But the days will come    b    when the bridegroom is taken away from them,    b’    and then they will fast    a’    in that day.  By doing so, ‘being taken away’ and ‘fasting’ recieve a stronger structural connection.  It receives a greater emphasis.

4)  The center and end of the chiasmus share a similar ominous note.  In C, you have “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day”, and in A’, you have “And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him”.  Matching the center with the end is a common chiastic strategy.

5)  The controversies pit Jesus against his opponents.  The implication here – both explicityly, and in terms of Mark’s story structure –  is that these controversies contributed to Jesus’ eventual demise. 

6)  This is the first of 2 controversy sections in Mark.  The second controversy section (Mark 11:27-12:37) also has 5 parts, or controversies.  It also may be chiastic, though, if it is, it is a weaker chiasmus.

Read Full Post »


A    3  If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.  4  He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.  5  Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.  6  Sow your seed in the morning, and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. 

B    7  The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun.

C    1    8  Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all,

       2    and let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many.

       3    Everything that is to come will be futility.

D    9  Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood

E    And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes.

F    Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.

E’   10  So, remove vexation from your heart and put away pain from your body,

D’   because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.

C’   1’   12:1  Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth,

       2’   before the evil days come and the years draw near

       3’   when you will say, “I have no delight in them“;

B’    2  before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened,

A’    and clouds return after the rain;

Read Full Post »


A    17  Honor all men;

B    love the brotherhood,

B’   fear God,

A’   honor the king.

This is a simple chiasmus.  A and A’ are statements about honoring the ‘secular’ world.  A asks us to honor all men, while A’ asks us to honor the king (for us today, the authorities).  Honor is used in both A and A’.  In the center we find B/B’.  These statements are about the ‘christian’ world.  We are to love our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord (B), and we are to fear God (B’).  The ‘christian’ world is in the center of the chiasmus – the place of honor in a chiasmus.  The higher position.

There’s also a 1/2 and 1/2 structure here (sometimes chiasmus have a 1/2 and 1/2 structure, or a shift in the center).  In the first half we have the masses:  all men, and the brotherhood.  In the second half we have individuals:  God, and king.

You can tell this is a chiasmus because of the odd order of these 4 sayings.  Normally you would expect a list like this to either ascend or descend in order of importance.  In other words, you would either expect the order to be something like:  all men, the brotherhood, king, God (ascending) – or God, king, brotherhood, all men (descending).  You would expect God, the greatest of the four, to either head the list, with the list descending from there, or you would expect the list to ascend to God in the final position.  But that doesn’t happen here.  God for some odd reason is 3rd, with the king being 4th.  …  Wierd.

But not wierd if this is a chiasmus.  If it’s a chiasmus, God is placed in the center, and in fact, the final position (on the right) in the center!  Cool.

The list has actually been organized helically (with the expectation that we ‘read’ it by matches, in the following order:  A → A’ → B → B’).  Read helically the list becomes:  Honor all men, honor the king, love the brotherhood, fear God.  The list is now ascending appropriately, with God at the end.  Very Good!  The text has fallen into place.   🙂

Seeing something as a chiasmus – and knowing how chiasmi can work – can make all the difference in our understanding of a text.  Even a short one like this.


Going further, I really like this little chiasmus.  One reason chiasmi were used was that it made it easier to remember something – which was helpful in an oral society.  By placing these items in a chiasmus, the items simply became more memorable.  

And it was a good thing to remember.  Here we have a nice little short-hand way of remembering how we are to treat other people – and God.  Honor those outside the faith (all people and the authorities), love those within the faith, fear God.

It shows the good nature of Christianity.  Christianity desires to get along with others.  We are a loving people.  A peaceful people.

…  A nice little chiasmus.

Read Full Post »

The parable of the seeds is first given in Matt 13:3-9 … then comes this:

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”  11  And He answered and said to them,

A    1    “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,    

       2    but to them it has not been granted.   

       1′    i    12  “For whoever has,   

              ii       to him shall more be given,     

              iii     and he shall have an abundance;    

       2′    but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

B    13  “Therefore I speak to them in parables;

C    because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

D    14  “And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,











F’   16  “But blessed are your eyes, because they see;

E’   and your ears, because they hear.

D’   17  “For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired

C’    to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

B’   18  “Hear then the parable of the sower.

A’   2′    19  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.  This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.  20  “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy;  21  yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.  22  “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful

      1′  23  “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth,    

              iii    some a hundredfold,   

              ii  ↓    some sixty,   

              i  ↓    and some thirty.”


To come …  🙂

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: