Archive for November, 2010

Chiasmus Pic


Symmetry in Modern Design


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Some excellent examples of chiasmi in Jeremiah – both short and longer – can be found in chapter 3 of Jack R. Lundbom’s 1997 book, “Jeremiah: a Study in Ancient Hebrew Rhetoric”.


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I think I agree with the following from Donald E. Curtis at Bible.orgI’ve often thought the Song of Songs was chiastic – in much the same way:

…  the Song of Songs has a chiastic structure, but one that is freer and looser. By this I mean that it is hard to draw an unambiguous line separating the parts. You can step back and see it, but when you get close, it almost disappears. What you see from a distance is this:

A. Home in the king’s court

B. Developing love

C. Dream Sequence

D. Consummation

C’. Dream Sequence

B’. Developing love

A’. Home in the country



David A. Dorsey in his book “The Literary Structure of the Old Testament” breaks down the Song of Songs like this:

A    Opening words of mutual love and desire (1:2-2:7)

B    Young man’s invitation to the young woman to join him in the contryside (2:8-17)

C    Young woman’s nighttime search for the young man (3:1-5)

D    CENTER:  The wedding day (3:6-5:1)

C’   Young woman’s nighttime search for the young man, and their speeches of admiration and longing (5:2-7:11  [5:2-7:10])

B’   Young woman’s invitation to the you man to join her in the countryside (7:12-8:4  [7:11-8:4])

A’   Closing words of mutual love and desire (8:5-14)

David Dorsey’s 15 page chapter 21 is dedicated to explaining his Song of Spongs chiasmus in greater detail.  Each of the sections given above, except for B’, is broken down into a smaller chiasmus.  If you’re interested in further exploring the Song of Songs as chiasmus I would highly recommend David’s treatment.

Here’s a review of Dorsey’s book.

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Chiasmus was not used exclusively by Biblical writers.  It was used by others as well. 

John W. Welch‘s book ”Chiasmus in Antiquity” is an excellent book for viewing possible chiastic structures from cultures outside of Israel.  It’s a good starting point for understanding chiasmus outside of the Bible.

Here are the chapter titles:

I particularly enjoy Welch’s cover which features the following chiastically arranged artwork.  Nice … :

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A    14  For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,

B    15  from whom every family / [space:]  in heaven and on earth derives its name,

C    16  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,

D    to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;

E    17  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

F    and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

G    18  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

F’   19  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,

E’   that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.

D’   20  Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power / that works within us,

C’   21  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus

B’   to all generations / [time:]  forever and ever.

A’   Amen.


This is the third of 3 chiasmi in a row in Ephesians.  Here are the links to all three:

Ephesians 2:11-22

Ephesians 3:1-13

Ephesians 3:14-21

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3:1  For this reason

 A    I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

 B    1    2  if indeed you have heard of the stewardship

2    of God’s grace

3    which was given to me

4    for you;

5    3  that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.  4  And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,

6    5  which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men,

7    as it has now been revealed

8    to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

> B last line:   9    6  to be specific, THAT THE GENTILES ARE FELLOW HEIRS AND FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE BODY, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus / through the gospel,

B’    1    7  of which I was made a minister,

2    according to the gift of God’s grace

3    which was given to me according to the working of His power.  8  To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given,

4    to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,

5    9  and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery

6    which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;

7    10  in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known

8    through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

−> B’ last line:   9    11  This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,  12  in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

 A’   13  Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations / on your behalf, for they are your glory.

 14a  For this reason …


This is the second of 3 chiasmi in a row in Ephesians.  Here are the links to all three:

Ephesians 2:11-22

Ephesians 3:1-13

Ephesians 3:14-21

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