Archive for the ‘Dewey, Joanna’ Category


The following chiasmus was developed by Joanna Dewey.  Her own full explanation is here.

The skinny is this:

“The five pericopae appear to be combined in a chiastic pattern according to content:  A, the healing of a paralytic, contains a healing of the resurrection type; B, the eating with tax-collectors and sinners, concerns eating; C, the question about fasting, fasting; B’, plucking grain on the Sabbath, eating again; and A’, the man with the withered hand, contains another miracles of the resurrection type.  The chiastic pattern is also to be seen in details of form and language.” 


“1  And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home.  2  And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.

A    [A healing story:  legs]    3  And they came^, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men.  4  And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.  5  And Jesus seeing their faith said^ to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”  6  But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,  7  “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”  8  And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said^ to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?  9  “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say,’ Arise, and take up your pallet and walk’?  10  “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– He said^ to the paralytic–  11  “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.”  12  And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

B    [Eating wrong:  with tax-gatherers and sinners]    13  And He went out again by the seashore; and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.  14  And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said^ to him, “Follow Me!” And he rose and followed Him.  15  And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.  16  And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?”  17  And hearing this, Jesus said^ to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

   [On not eating at all:  fasting]    18  And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came^ and said^ to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 

a    19  And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom do not fast, do they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 

b    20  “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day

a’   21  “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results.  22  “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” 

B’   [Eating wrong:  on the Sabbath]    23  And it came about that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.  24  And the Pharisees were saying to Him, “See here, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  25  And He said^ to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and became hungry, he and his companions:  26  how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave it also to those who were with him?”  27  And He was saying to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  28  “Consequently, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

A’   [A healing story: a hand]    3:1  And He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there with a withered hand.  2  And they were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, in order that they might accuse Him.  3  And He said^ to the man with the withered hand, “Rise and come forward!”  4  And He said^ to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent.  5  And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said^ to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 

And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.



A few comments.

1)  Mark probably started off this chiasmus with the 2 healing stories in A/A’ because they give Jesus ‘authority’ right at the start (authority via displays of supernatural power).  Mark enjoys starting off with material that ‘gives’ Jesus authority.  It’s a trade-mark of his. 

2)  Mark likes 5-part chiasmi.  4 out of the first 5 sub-sections in Mark are 5-part chiasmi.

3)  Mark likes placing future-related teachings in the center of his structures.  Hence, Jesus’ statement in C:  “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” 

(In case you’re interested, the above statement is written chiastically:    a    But the days will come    b    when the bridegroom is taken away from them,    b’    and then they will fast    a’    in that day.  By doing so, ‘being taken away’ and ‘fasting’ recieve a stronger structural connection.  It receives a greater emphasis.

4)  The center and end of the chiasmus share a similar ominous note.  In C, you have “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day”, and in A’, you have “And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him”.  Matching the center with the end is a common chiastic strategy.

5)  The controversies pit Jesus against his opponents.  The implication here – both explicityly, and in terms of Mark’s story structure –  is that these controversies contributed to Jesus’ eventual demise. 

6)  This is the first of 2 controversy sections in Mark.  The second controversy section (Mark 11:27-12:37) also has 5 parts, or controversies.  It also may be chiastic, though, if it is, it is a weaker chiasmus.


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