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Archive for the ‘Chiasmus and Translation’ Category


 1    12:28-34:

 

A    28  And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing,

B    and recognizing that He had answered them well,  /  asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”   [Me:  A compliment]

C    29  Jesus answered,  /  “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;  30  AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’  31  “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’   /  There is no other commandment greater than these.

D    32  And the scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher    [Me:  Positive acknowledgment]

C’     You have truly stated  /  that HE IS ONE; AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;  33  AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF,  /  is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

B’    34  And when Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently,  /  He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  [Me:  A compliment]

A’    And after that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

 

2   12:35-37:

 

A    35  And Jesus 

B    answering began to say, as He taught in the temple,

C    “How is it that the scribes say  /  that the Christ is the son of David  /  ?

D    36  “David himself said in the Holy Spirit,  /  ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,

E    “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT THINE ENEMIES BENEATH THY FEET.”

D’   37  “David himself  /  calls Him ‘Lord‘;

C’   and so in what sense  /  is He his son  /  ?

B’   And the great crowd enjoyed listening

A’    to Him.

 

3   12:38-40:

 

38  And in His teaching He was saying:

A    “Beware

B    of the scribes

   who like to walk around in long robes,

   and like respectful greetings in the market places,

   39  and chief seats in the synagogues,

E’   and places of honor at banquets,

D’   40  who devour widows’ houses,

C’   and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers;

B’   these

A’    will receive greater condemnation.”

____

Comments:

Here’s 3 chiasmi in a row from Mark 12. 

All 3 involve scribe(s).  The first chiasmus presents a lone scribe rather positively.  The scribe compliments Jesus and Jesus compliments him.  The second chiasmus presents Jesus as highly exalted, “sitting at the right hand of God”, victorious over his enemies.  The third chiasmus condemns the scribes for their sin and desire for status. 

Personally, I think the pattern presents a choice.  The center chiasmus describes who Jesus is (exalted).  The outside 2 chiasmi represents 2 types of scribes.  One represents a positive encounter.  The other represents ‘the negative’.  …  A little like the 2 crucified on either side of Jesus.  One positive.  The other negaive.  …  The first scribe is “not far from the kingdom of God” while the latter scribes “will recieve … condemnation”.  Quite the contrast.  It shows both the positive and the negative regarding Jesus and his Markan arch-enemies, the scribes. 

Personally, I think the negative/positive equation also extends to us – the attuitive and attentive reader.  Who, or which are we?  How do we treat/view Jesus?  Are we on the positive or negative side of the ledger?  Are we the good scribe or the ‘evil’ scribes?  Are we on this side of Jesus or that side of Jesus?  What is our choice?  Who do we say Jesus is? 

???

____

A few additional comments:

1)  I really like the contrast between the centers of the 2nd and 3rd chiasmi.  The center of 2nd chiasmus has Jesus in his rightful exalted position at the right hand of God, while the center of the 3rd chiasmus has the scribes wrongly seeking “chief seats” and “places of honor”.   Interesting contrast.  One is deserved (Jesus’ exalted position).  The other condemned (the scribes’s desire for ‘exalted’ position(s)).  …  In reality, I think there’s a little humor here.  In comparison to Jesus being seated at the right hand of God – in heaven, the scribes’s seeking positions in earthly synagogues and at earth-bound banquets seems, well, rather miniscule – relatively unimportant.  …  There really is no comparison.  One easily – EASILY (right hand of God in heaven vs. the best spot to sit at an earthly banquet) trumps the other. 

Wow.  Nice contrast.

2)  I like that the center of the center chiasmus describes Jesus the way it does:  (THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,)  “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT THINE ENEMIES BENEATH THY FEET.”‘  Overall, it’s the most powerful statement in all 3 chiasmi.  It’s worthy of the CENTRAL-central position.

3)  It’s also interesting to note how the centers of each chiasmus ‘match’ with their outsides.  

Nice chiasmi.  Interesting overall arrangement(s).

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In my previous entry I pointed out a case in which knowing a passage is chiastic may aid in the text’s translation.  In this entry I want to point to a blog entry at “Better Bibles Blog” which discusses chiasmus and translation.  I’m not sure I agree with the author’s approach.  I would far rather see the chiasmus arranged as a chiasmus, exposing the chiasmus – arranged something like I do here on this blog – than see it adjusted to modern tastes.  I think I’d rather see us adjusting to the original writers, than the original writers being adjusted to us.

The post is here.

Here’s a quote from his opening few paragraphs:

Structured text has form. And ancient languages utilize forms that are quite foreign to us. Just like a foreign word is not understood by someone, larger linguistic structures are also not understood. Or, sometimes, it’s worse. Sometimes they are misunderstood.

We use indentation and space between our paragraph units. It’s the form we use. People who lived and breathed the original languages were different. They used no space—even between words. They tie their paragraphing more tightly to the semantics of the paragraph. We rely more heavily on syntax. One such paragraphing technique they used was the chiasmus. I’ll use this specific formal structure to illustrate a point in just a moment.

Rarely do our translations translate these forms. They leave the larger formal structures largely untouched. When dealing at the word level, translations replace the original forms with ones appropriate to the destination language. But with the larger linguistic structures, at best, we do this replacement poorly.

The results are many: general misunderstanding of what the text says, a sense the text has a special, even secret, meaning, an unfounded assumption that the reason the text can be trusted is because it sounds special (in a novel way), the reader is not impacted by the text because he or she simply can’t understand it, the reader deems the text as irrelevant, they are frustrated, or they may even …

Interesting.

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