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From Ronald E. Man’s paper, “The Value of Chiasm for New Testament Interpretation” , here … (but ultimately attributable to Nils Wilhelm Lund in “The Significance of Chiasmus for Interpretation“, p. 106).

This chiasmus only covers the beginning of Jesus’ ‘High Priestly Prayer’, but I’ve included the entire prayer (John 17) in the post.  The prayer was prayed by Jesus shortly before his arrest – and crucifixion.

I like how the prayer begins with a chiasmus.  It’s something I’ve been noticing of late.  It seems as though there’s a number of Biblical books and passages that begin with a chiasmus (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 1-2).  Perhaps beginning a passage with a chiasmus was considered something beautiful – and significant? 

I like the way the chiasmus flows from the Father … to the Son … to mankind … and to eternal life.  Eternal life appears to be the central focus, and the ‘end game’ – the goal of the Father, achieved ultimately through the sacrificial death of the Son. 

This chiasmus also seems to summarize the basics of Christianity, and perhaps it was written as a chiasmus to make it easier to remember, or memorize. 

A Beautiful chiasmus.  A significant summary.  Memorable. 

Nice.

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1  These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said,

A    “Father,  /  the hour has come;  /  glorify Thy Son,

B    that the Son may glorify Thee,

C    2  even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him,

D    He may give eternal life.

D’   3  “And this is eternal life,

C’   that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.

B’   4  “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.

A’   5  “And now,  /  glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.

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6  “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word.  7  “Now they have come to know that everything Thou hast given Me is from Thee;  8  for the words which Thou gavest Me I have given to them; and they received them, and truly understood that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me.  9  “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine;  10  and all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.  11  “And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.  12  “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  13  “But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  14  “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  15  “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.  16  “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  17  “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.  18  “As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  19  “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.  20  “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;  21  that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.  22  “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one;  23  I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.  24  “Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world.  25  “O righteous Father, although the world has not known Thee, yet I have known Thee; and these have known that Thou didst send Me;  26  and I have made Thy name known to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them.”

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Chiasm was used as a literary device in the ancient world, in Babylonia, Israel, Greece, and Rome. It fell out of use, however, and in modern times the existence of chiasms in ancient literature was only recognized by a few scholars in the 18th and 19th centuries. This changed in the middle of the twentieth century, when Nils Wilhelm Lund wrote Chiasmus in the New Testament. “Since these seminal studies the study of New Testament chiasm has blossomed, until today recognition of chiastic structure is common in full-scale commentaries and other scholarly works. The study of Old Testament chiasms has likewise begun to come of age.”

From here.

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Here I’m going back to the ‘same well’ as the post before.  From here.  (To be fair I’ll try to resist his paper from here on in.  :-).  It has many more chiasmi you may be interested in.)

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A    1  Now I say, as long as the   (a)   heir is a   (b)   child, he does not differ at all from a   (c)   slave although he is owner of everything,

B    2  but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.  3  So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.

C    4  But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman,

D    born under the Law,

D’   5  in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

C’   6  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son

B’   into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!

A’   7  Therefore you are no longer a   (c’)   slave, but a   (b’)   son; and if a son, then an   (a’)   heir through God.

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From John W. Welch’s article, “Chiasmus in the New Testament”:  here.  Though I’ve changed it a bit.

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A    3  We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

B    4  since we heard

C    of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;  5  because of the hope laid up for you in heaven,

 D     of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel,  6  which has come to you,

E    just as   [kathos kai]   in all the world also

F    it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing,

E’   even as it has been   [kathos kai]   doing in you also

D’   since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth

C’   7  just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf  8  and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

B’   9  For this reason also, since the day we heard of it,

A’   we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

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Here’s a rather nice chiasmus from Acts 2 in which Peter preaches Jesus’s resurrection at Pentecost.  It’s from Kenneth E. Bailey‘s book, “Poet and Peasant“.  I have made one change.  I’ve changed his I/I’ into an I, J / J’, I’. 

This chiasmus immediately follows another chiasmus, outlining Pentecost, which can be found here.

Update:  Bailey’s chiasmus can be found on-line here.  Note that he thinks the chiasmus can be divided into 2 smaller chiasmi!

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14  But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:

A    22  “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–

B    23  this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

C    [Me:  Jesus glorified and vindicated:]  24  “And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

D    [Me:  OT quote from David:]   25  “For David says of Him, ‘I WAS ALWAYS BEHOLDING THE LORD IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, THAT I MAY NOT BE SHAKEN.  26  ‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL ABIDE IN HOPE;  27  BECAUSE THOU WILT NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW THY HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.  28  ‘THOU HAST MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; THOU WILT MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH THY PRESENCE.’  29  “Brethren, I may confidently say to you

E    regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

F    30  “And so, because he was a prophet,

G    and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH

H    TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS UPON HIS THRONE,

I    31  he looked ahead and spoke

J    of the resurrection

K    of the Christ,

L    that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES,

L’   NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.

K’   32  “This Jesus

J’   God raised up again,

I’   to which we are all witnesses.

H’   33  “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God,

G’   and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,

F’   He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

E’   34  “For it was not  /  David  /  who ascended into heaven,

D’   [Me:  OT quote from David:]   but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,  35  UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET.”‘  36  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain

C’   that God has made Him both Lord and Christ

B’   this Jesus whom you crucified.”

A’   37  Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart,

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A few years ago I read the book, “The Shape of Biblical Language – Chiasmus in the Scriptures“, written by Father John Breck.  This morning I picked up John’s “Scripture in Tradition:  The Bible and Its Interpretation in the Orthodox Church“.  Chapter 5 is entitled, “Chiasmus as a Key to Biblical Interpretation”.  Below are a few select quotes from that chapter:

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From the early nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth, scholarly attention focused especially on the contributions and limits of historical-critical approaches to biblical interpretation.  In recent years, interest among exegetes has shifted to various forms of literary analysis.  Although the results have been mixed (much of the effort has been expended to correct false or one-sided conclusions drawn by other scholars), certain specific contributions have been especially helpful in clarifying the meaning of scriptural passages by locating the center of the author’s interest and thereby pinpointing literal sense of a given text.

The most significant of these, to my mind, is the contribution made by a small number of biblical scholars, beginning in the mid-eighteenth century with the works of the Anglican hierarch Robert Lowth and continuing today with studies by scholars such as John Gerhard, Charles H. Talbert, and especially Peter F. Ellis.  These studies base their interpretation of biblical texts on a form of literary analysis that investigates the concentric parallelism or chiastic (also called “chiasmis”) structures of biblical passages.

It seems obvious that any writing should be read according to its linear progression, from beginning to end, as we read a novel or newspaper article.  In antiquity, however, a linear reading of a text was very often complemented by another kind of reading.  This reading follows the laws of what is call “chiasm” or “chiasmus,” a rhetorical form based on concentric parallelism.

…  Chiasmus is a rhetorical form developed on the basis of parallelism.  But it takes parallelism an important step further by creating a movement that is in essence concentric.  Although any passage reads in linear fashion, from beginning to end, it can also incorporate another movement:  from the exterior to the interior, from the extremities toward the center.  In this way, meaning is developed from the beginning and end of the passage toward the middle.  Accordingly, the ultimate meaning of a chiastically structured passage is expressed not at the end, in what we understand to be the “conclusion.”  The real meaning or essential message of the text is to be found rather at its center.

This chiastic way of composing and reading a literary text, so that meaning develops from the extremities toward the center, seems to have originated in the Semitic world at least three thousand years before Jesus Christ.  It is found in ancient Akkadian and Sumerian texts, and it spread from these to the Greek world.  The epics of Homer, for example, are chiastically structured, as, presumably was much of the oral tradition that underlies them.  Writers of both the Old and New Testaments used chiasmus extensively   Although it seems not to have been taught in rhetorical schools after the beginning of the Christian era, chiasmus nevertheless appears throughout the ages, down to the present day.

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Just thought I would mention the 1984 Ronald E. Man article, “The Value of Chiasm for New Testament Interpretation” – available online.  The paper contains a number of nice chiasmi. 

Eventually I would like to place some of the chiasmi on this blog.

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