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Chiastic Structure of the Bible

Chiastic structure in the Bible

Chiasm defined

"One of the most interesting and intricate biblical literary structures is called a chiasm. It takes its name from the Greek letter chi, written X, because it has a structure that crosses over somewhat like an 'X.' Or a form suggested by its conforming to the ">" shape of the left half of the Greek letter chi, which is drawn like the English X. The "outer" elements, designated AA', are the "frame". In a chiasm, the various elements of a writing are related to each other in parallels so that the first and the last are parallel, the second and the second from the last are also parallel, and so on. There can be two or more elements.

"The most simple example is the saying of Jesus: "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." The chiasm is first - last - last first, forming the pattern, AB B'A'. But the structure can be developed even more to have a central element that stands by itself, around which the other parts circle, and can serve as a center and theme for the whole writing.

"It might be helpful to think of chiasm as saying things forwards and backwards." --Ron Corson, Chiastic Structure and Isaiah 14

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