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A painting on wood, by Julia Stankova

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This is a nice little chiasmus.  The center, v. 18-19, is likely based on Isaiah 61:1-2, a messianic passage:

1  The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
2  To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord

Interestingly, there’s no mention of ‘healing blindness’ in the above passage, even though it’s at the center of Luke’s chiasmus.  Nevertheless, healing blindness is used elsewhere in Isaiah, including the following messianic passage:

“I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”  Is 42:6-7.

I think it’s fitting to have healing of blindness at the center of this chiasmus.  Not only did Jesus heal people of their physical blindness, He also healed people of their spiritual blindness.  The center serves double duty.  The spiritual aspect of Jesus’ job was ultimately at the core of his ministry: opening peoples’ eyes to who He was and what He came to do.

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14  And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.  15  And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.  16  And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom,

A    He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath,

B    and stood up to read.

C    17  And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him.

D    And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 

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18  The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,

E    Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.

F    He has sent Me to proclaim release  /  to the captives,

G    And recovery of sight to the blind,

F’   To set free  /  those who are oppressed

E’   19  To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” 

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D’   20  And He closed the book,

C’   gave it back to the attendant

B’   and sat down;

A’   and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 

21  And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

 

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The following excerpt is from James L. Resseguie‘s book, “Narrative Criticism of the New Testament”, p. 58-60.  The excerpt is part of the book’s explanation for  “Chiasm (Chiasmus)”.

The book can be found here at Google Books, and here at Amazon.

The examples are short, but I enjoyed them.  I particularly liked his treatment of Luke 22:42 and Ephesians 1:2; 6:23-24.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as well.  🙂

The word chiasm is derived from the Greek letter chi (written X), which symbolizes the crossover pattern of words, phrases, clauses, or ideas that are repeated in reverse order.  The simplest type of chiasm is A B B’ A’ – a structure that comes full circle by highlighting key concepts in reverse order.  A chiastic pattern in Mark 2:27, for instance, keeps the reader’s or hearer’s attention focused on the main concepts.

A  The sabbath was made

B  for humankind

B’  not humankind

A’  for the sabbath.

Chiasms may draw attention to a theological or ideological perspective.  Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane is an example of literary artistry at its best.  The literary form reinforces the theological perspective.  In Luke 22:42, for example:

A  Father, if you are willing.

B  remove this cup from me;

B’  yet not my will

A’  but yours be done.

The first person singular (me, my) is placed within the second person singular (you, yours), which visually underscores that Jesus’ will is completely enclosed within the will of the Father.  This becomes a model prayer for all: our will needs to be conformed to God’s will, not the other way around.

Paul uses chiasms to wrap together an entire book with key theological concepts.  In the Letter to the Ephesians he brackets his correspondence with the words “grace” and “peace” (also in 2 Thess. 1:2 and 3:16, 18).

A    Grace to you

B  and peace

B’  Peace be to the whole community. …

A’  Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ

(Eph. 1:2; 6:23, 24)

Paul comes full circle, underscoring an important theological perspective: where there is grace, there is peace, and where there is peace, there is evidence of God’s grace.  Paul also uses interlocking chiasms to highlight the mystery of the Christian faith.  In 1 Tim. 3:16, for example, an interlocking pattern  explains “the mystery of our religion.”

[Jesus] was revealed in flesh,

vindicated in spirit,

seen by angels,

proclaimed among Gentiles,

believed in throughout the world,

taken up in glory.

Two sets of overlapping chiasms bring two separate worlds together – this world and the world above.  One set – flesh (A), spirit (B), angels (B’), Gentiles (A’) – is joined by a second set – angels (A) Gentiles (B), world (B’), glory (A’).  The interlocking pattern suggests that Jesus brings together in balanced harmony two worlds that were separated or at odds with each other.

Nice!

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57  Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she brought forth a son.  58  And her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.  59  And it came about that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father.  60  And his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.”  61  And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.”  62  And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called.  63  And he asked for a tablet, and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished.  64  And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.  65  And fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.  66  And all who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.  67  And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

A    68  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,

B    69  And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant–

C    70  As He spoke  [Rhyming Greek: laleo]  by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old

D    71  Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF / ALL WHO HATE US;

E    72  To show mercy toward our fathers,

F    And to remember His holy covenant,

F’   73  The oath

E’   which He swore to Abraham our father,

D’   74  To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,  75  In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.

C’   76  “And you, child, will be called  [Rhyming Greek: kaleo]  the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;

B’   77  To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins,

A’   78  Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,  79  TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.

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In this entry I’ll be placing lots of small chiasmi.  Small chiasmi are not my primary focus so it may take some time to ‘fill this up’.

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Old Testament:

Genesis:

1:27a

A    God created man

B    in His own image,

B’   in the image of God

A’   He created him

2:4

A    This is the account of the heavens

B    and the earth

C    when they were created,

C’   in the day that the LORD God made

B’   earth

A’   and heaven.

6:8-9

A    8  But Noah  /  found favor

B    in the eyes of the Lord

C    9  These are the records of the generations of Noah.

D    Noah was a righteous man,

D’   blameless

C’   in his time  [Me: ‘among his peers’];

B’   with God

A’   Noah  / walked

9:6a

A    “Whoever sheds

B    the blood

C    of man

C’   by man

B’   his blood

A’   shall be shed …”

12:16

Therefore he  [Me: Pharoah]  treated Abram well for her  [Me: Sarai’s]  sake; and gave him

A    sheep and oxen

B    and  [Me: male]  donkeys

C    and male  [Me: servants]

C’   and female servants

B’   and female donkeys

A’   and camels.

 Job

32:6-10

6  So Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite spoke out and said,

A    “I am young in years and you are old; Therefore I was shy and afraid to tell you what I think.

B    7  “I thought age should speak, And increased years should teach wisdom.

C    8  “But it is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.

B’   9  “The abundant in years may not be wise, Nor may elders understand justice.

A’   10  “So I say, ‘Listen to me, I too will tell what I think.’

Psalms

19:1

A    The heavens

B    declare

C    the glory of God

C’   the work of his hands

B’   proclaim

A’   the sky.

 72:1-2

A    1  Give the king Your justice, O God,

B    and Your righteousness to the king’s son. 

B’   2  May he judge Your people with righteousness

A’   and Your afflicted with justice.

103:1

A    Bless, O my soul,

B    the Lord

C    And all that is within me,

B’   the name of His holiness,

A’   bless, O my soul.

Proverbs

10:15

A    The wealth

B    of a rich man

C    is his fortress;

C’   the ruin

B’   of the poor

A’   is their poverty

11:19-20

A    19  He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,

B    And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.

B’   20  The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD,

A’   But the blameless in their walk are His delight.

Isaiah

5:20

A    Woe to those who call evil

B    good,

B’   and good

A    evil;

A    Who substitute darkness

B    for light

B’   and light

A’   for darkness;

A    Who substitute bitter

B    for sweet,

B’    and sweet

A’    for bitter!

6:10

A    “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,

B    Their ears dull,

C    And their eyes dim,

C’   Lest they see with their eyes,

B’   Hear with their ears,

A’   Understand with their hearts,

And return and be healed.”

Jeremiah

17:1-3

A    1  The sin of Judah

B    is written down

C    with an iron stylus;

C’   with a diamond point

B’   it is engraved upon the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars,

A’   2  As they remember their children, So they remember their altars and their Asherim By green trees on the high hills … 3 … your high places for sin

Joel

2:28-29

A    28  It will come about after this

B    That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;

C    And your sons and daughters will prophesy,

D    Your old men  /  will dream dreams,

D’   Your young men  /  will see visions.

C’   29  Even on the male and female servants

B’   I will pour out My Spirit

A’   in those days.

Hosea

13:14

A    Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?

B    Shall I redeem them from death?

B’   O Death, where are your thorns?

A’   O Sheol, where is your sting?

Amos

2:11-12

A    11  “Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets

B    And some of your young men to be Nazirites.

C    Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD.

B’   12  “But you made the Nazirites drink wine,

A’   And you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’

5:24

A    Let roll down

B    like waters

C    justice

C’   and righteousness

B’   like a stream

A’   ever flowing

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New Testament:

 Matthew

19:30

A    “But many who are first

B    will be last;

B’   and the last,

A’   first.”

23:12

A    “And whoever exalts himself

B    shall be humbled;

B’   and whoever humbles himself

A’   shall be exalted.

Mark

8:35-38

34  And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 

A    35  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 

B    [Me: question:]  36  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul  /  ? 

B’   [Me: question:]  37  For what will a man give in exchange for his soul  /  ? 

A’   38  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

10:29b, 30, 31

28  Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”  29  Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left

A    house

B    or brothers or sisters

C    or mother

C’   or father

B’   or children

A’   or farms,

for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,  30  but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age,

A   houses

B    and brothers and sisters

C    and mothers

B’   and children

A’   and farms,

along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.  31  But many

A    who are first

B    will be last,

B’   and the last,

A’   first.”

11:9b-10

And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.  9  Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:

A    “Hosanna!

B    Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord

B’   10  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;

A’   Hosanna in the highest!”

Luke

16:13

A    “No servant can serve two masters;

B    for either he will hate the one,

C    and love the other,

C’   or else he will hold to one,

B’   and despise the other.

A’   You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Romans

8:38-39a

38  For I am convinced that

A    neither death,

B    nor life,

C    nor angels, nor rulers,

D    nor things present,

D’   nor things to come,

C’   nor powers

B’   39  nor height,

A’   nor depth,

nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians

8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

A    that though He was rich,

B    yet for your sake He became poor,

B’   that you through His poverty

A’   might become rich.

Ephesians

2:8-9

A    8  For by grace you have been saved through faith;

B    and that not of yourselves,

C    it is the gift of God;

B’   9  not as a result of works,

A’   that no one should boast.

Philippians

1:15-17

A    15  Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife,

B    but some also from good will;

B’   16  the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;

A’    17  the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.

1 Thessalonians

5:23

A    Now the God of peace Himself,

B    sanctify you completely

C    and entirely your spirit and soul and body

B’   without blame

A’    at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John

3:9

A    No one who is born of God

B    practices sin,

C    because His seed abides in him;

B’   and he cannot sin,

A’   because he is born of God.

Revelation

3:7

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David,

A    who opens

B    and no one will shut,

B’   and who shuts

A’   and no one opens,

says this …

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