CHIASTIC STRUCTURE

What we call CHIASM today was a common way of speaking and writing in Biblical times. There are several literary structures used in the Bible and the chiasm is one of the most complex and also revealing structures. Lost for centuries, chiasms have recently been re-realized and there's been many in-depth studies of chiasm by all literary scholars.
What we call CHIASM today was a common way of speaking and writing in Biblical times. There are several literary structures used in the Bible and the chiasm is one of the most complex and also revealing structures. Lost for centuries, chiasms have recently been re-realized and there's been many in-depth studies of chiasm by all literary scholars.

Chiasms give us a clue to what the author is emphasizing. I hate to be putting in such a complex study so early in this series but, with recent studies at our church gatherings, chiasm's have been in my face.

As mentioned earlier, chiasm's were widely used during the time of Biblical penning. They were a way for someone to say something, or write something, that would allow the listener to be able to memorize it better due to a rhythmic pattern. In the Bible, there are passages that are chiasm's, chapters, full books, and even the entire Bible. You will see that Christ even spoke in chiasm's.

The structure of a chiasm is like one side of an X, more like a > . The speaking or writing would have a type of parallel structure:
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Using the example above, the typical chiasm will have repeated phrases across A - a, B - b, C - c, and so on. When seeing these repeated phrases, they are clues that a chiasm exists. My most recent revealing was when looking at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 where verse 3 and verse 10 have a complete quote: "For theres is the kingdom of Heaven". When going back through the Beatitudes, I noticed that, from outside to center, the result was a present tense verb (A - a), then a future passive (B - b), then a future active (C - c), then the center two were future passive (D - d).

Some chiasm's have a two point center, as the example above, but some may have a one point center (being only one "D" in the example above). Whether two points or one, the key to the subject being spoken about is the center. This does not mean the other points are not important but rather it lays a focus on the center point. Everything works to that center.

Let's look at a few chiasm's in Scripture and take notice the paralleling structure and what the speaker/author is pointing to in the subject.

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The obvious focus of this little chiasm in Psalm is God

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The obvious point in Matthew 6 is our contrasting relationship of trying to love both God and money. It's impossible.

Let's look at a chiasm in a chapter

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The point of this chapter is the fall and judgment of man because of sin which will play out through the rest of history. But, the focus is on the promise to the serpent - "He will crush your head and bruise His heal"

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Let's look at a book

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I hope this will help in your study. Once realized, some people catch on and see these structures quickly and some may struggle. Some may never catch them but don't be discouraged. We know in part and prophesy in part. No one knows everything and likewise, no-one will see everything.

God Bless and enjoy delving into the wonderful picture album of God we know as the Bible.