Archive for May, 2011


The following chiasmus is from Kenneth E. Bailey‘s book “Poet and Peasant“.  Another nice center:  “The righteous man shall live by faith”.  As with the center, the chiasmus also ends with “faith”.  :


A    5  Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  6  Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

B    7  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.  8  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”  9  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

C    10  For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”

D    11  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident;


D’   12  However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”

C’   13  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”–

B’   14  in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles,

A’   so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit / through faith.


Here’s Bailey’s comment on the above chiasmus:

The parallels in the above inversion are as follows:

A    Spirit, Faith, Righteousness

B    Gentiles, Blessing of Abraham

C    Curse

D    Law

E    Righteousness by Faith

D’   Law

C’   Curse (Christ)

B’   Gentiles, Blessing of Abraham (Christ)

A’   Spirit, Faith, Righteousness

All the parallels are strong and unmistakable.  The climax is in the center.  The center is related theologically to the beginning and the end.  This is particularly clear when the two quotes in A and E are compared.  The second half introduces Christ, who is the significant missing element in the first half.

Bailey’s book, the above chiasmus, and many other chiasmi can be viewed online here.


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From here.


Chiasmus is common throughout literary history.  It is found in modern history in the writings and speeches of men like Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, and Ben Franklin.  Chiasmus has been found as early as the third millennium B.C.  Quintilian, the first century A.D. Roman rhetorician argued:                                           

A literary work should begin and end in the same way, with similar material  (and so should smaller passages within the work), with the most important material in the middle.  Typically, each unit begins and ends with narrative material between which discourse material will be framed.   Furthermore, passages should not be simply juxtaposed, strung together, without connecting links.  From the rhetoricians dramatists borrow the principle that passages should be ‘mixed and tied together by their ends’  (Lucian); each part should be prepared for by ‘seeds of proof sown’ in the preceding part (quoted in Stock).

– Aaron Goerner

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I really like the center of this chiasmus.  It’s powerful:



1    12:1  And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;  2  and she was with child; and she cried^ out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. 

2    3  And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. 

B    4  And his tail swept^ away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. 

C    And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.  5  And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.  6  And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had^ a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

D    7  And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war,  8  and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.  9  And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him

E    10  And I heard a loud voice / in heaven, saying,

F    “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night

G    11  And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death. 

F’   12  “For this reason,

E’   rejoice, / O heavens and you who dwell in them.

D’   Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”  13  And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth,

C’   he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.  14  And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was^ nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

B’   15  And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. 


1    16  And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. 

2    17  And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

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The following chiasmus is from p. 101 of John Breck‘s 2001 book, “Scripture in Tradition: the Bible and its Interpretation in the Orthodox Church“:


A    19 Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

B    20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.

C    21 “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

D    24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

D’   25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.

C’   26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

B’   28 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

A’   30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. / As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

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J Randal who has the blog Walking with God has a nice chiasmus for Obadiah 10-14.  Interestingly, the chiasmus occurs approximately in the center of Obadiah, which makes one wonder whether the entire book might be a chiasmus?  …  Hmmm.  Here’s the entire book of Obadiah (which only has 1 chapter) with Randal’s chiastic center:



1  The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom– We have heard a report from the LORD, And an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, “Arise and let us go against her for battle”–  2  “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You are greatly despised.  3  “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’  4  “Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.  5  “If thieves came to you, If robbers by night– O how you will be ruined!– Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape gatherers came to you, Would they not leave some gleanings?  6  “O how Esau will be ransacked, And his hidden treasures searched out!  7  “All the men allied with you Will send you forth to the border, And the men at peace with you Will deceive you and overpower you. They who eat your bread Will set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.)  8  “Will I not on that day,” declares the LORD, “Destroy wise men from Edom And understanding from the mountain of Esau?  9  “Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, In order that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.  10  “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, You will be covered with shame,

A    And you will be cut off forever.

B    11  “On the day that you stood aloof,

C    On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem– You too were as one of them.

D    12  “Do not gloat over your brother’s day, The day of his misfortune.

E    And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah In the day of their destruction;

F    Yes, do not boast In the day of their distress.

E’   13  “Do not enter the gate of My people In the day of their disaster.

D’   Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity In the day of their disaster.

C’   And do not loot their wealth In the day of their disaster.

B’   14  “And do not stand at the fork of the road

A’   To cut down their fugitives;

And do not imprison their survivors In the day of their distress.  15  “For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.  16  “Because just as you drank on My holy mountain, All the nations will drink continually. They will drink and swallow, And become as if they had never existed.  17  “But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, And it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions.  18  “Then the house of Jacob will be a fire And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,” For the LORD has spoken.  19  Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, And those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; Also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, And Benjamin will possess Gilead.  20  And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel, Who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, And the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad Will possess the cities of the Negev.  21  The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion To judge the mountain of Esau, And the kingdom will be the LORD’S.

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About a week ago I posted a chiasmus by Charles Bumgardner on Hebrews 12:1-2.  Charles authors the blog Orchard Keeper.   A few days ago he left a comment here mentioning that he’s posted another of his chiasmi on his blog.  A chiasmi for 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12.  I’ve checked it out and I think it’s pretty good. 

The chiasmi, along with a Greek break-down and a very good essay, can be accessed at his blog here.  Please visit his site for the greater detail.  🙂

Interestingly, the center of his chiasmus has some similarities to the center of my chiasmus for 1 Thessalonians 1-2 – specifically, in regard to the topic of Paul, Sylvanus, and Timothy’s ‘working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you’



Chiastic structure of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12:

A (3:6a)    Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

B (3:6b)    that you withdraw from every brother who is leading a disorderly life

C (3:6c)    and not according to the tradition which they received from us.

D (3:7a)    For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example,

E (3:7b)    because we did not act in a disorderly manner among you,

F (3:8a)    nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it,

F’ (3:8b)    but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day

E’ (3:8c)    so that we might not be a burden to any of you;

D’ (3:9)    not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example.

C’ (3:10)    For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order:  if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.

B’ (3:11)    For we hear that some among you are leading a disorderly life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.

A’ (3:12)    Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quitet fashion and eat their own bread.


Thank you Charles!  Nice one.

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2:4 This is the account of

A the heavens

B and the earth

C when they were created,

D in the day that the LORD God

C’ made

B’ earth

A’ and heaven.



5 Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground.  6 But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.  7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  8 And the LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.  9 And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  10 Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.  11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.  12 And the gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there.  13 And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush.   14 And the name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.



A 15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden / to cultivate it and keep it.

B 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”

C 18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called / Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

D [Me: The Fall:]

a 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

b (C) 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.

c (B) And he said to the woman, / “Indeed, has God said, a ‘You shall not eat b from any tree of the garden’?

d 2 And the woman said to the serpent, b’ “From the fruit of the trees of the garden a’ we may eat;


e 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden,


d’ God has said, a ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, b lest you die.‘”

c’ 4 And the serpent said to the woman, / b’ “You surely shall not die! a’ 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

b’ (A) [Me: serpents craftiness succeeds:] 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

a’ 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.


[Me: The Aftermath of Fall:]


E 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.


A’ 9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 And the man said,

B’ “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said,

C’ “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

C’’ 14 And the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

B’’ 16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

A’’ 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;

a Cursed is the ground because of you;

b In toil you shall eat of it / All the days of your life.

c 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow

d for you;

d’ And you

c’ shall eat the plants of the field;

b’ 19 By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, / till you return to the ground,

a’ because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

C’ 20 Now the man called his wife’s name / Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. 21 And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

B’ 22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever“–

A’ 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, / to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.

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