procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

1 Timothy Chiasm

This is something i worked up a little while ago, but could never work out how to indent with html. But here it is!

A 1:1-7 Grace be with you - stick with the truth
  B 1:8-11 The good law is for the wicked
    C 1:12-20 We are sinners made holy because of Jesus
      D 2:1-7 Pray for all
        E 2:8-15 Pray in godliness
          F 3:1-14 Church leaders model godliness
            G 3:14-4:5 Keep going in holiness
              H 4:6-10a Teach the right stuff
                I 4:10b because we have our hope set on the living God,
                  who is the Saviour of all people,
                  especially of those who believe.

              H’ 4:11-14 Teach the right stuff
            G’ 4:15-16 Keep going in holiness
          F’ 5:1-6:2 All relationships model godliness
        E’ 6:2c-5 Learn in godliness
      D’ 6:6-10 Be content
    C’ 6:11-16 Pursue a holy life because of Jesus
  B’ 6:17-19 Good works are for the holy to do
A’ 6:20-21 Grace be with you - stick with the truth

I really like looking for structures in passages - this is the first time i've seen one in the whole book. the problem is of course that whenever you think you see something, it's really easy to read things into it. but one or two parallels and you start looking for them everywhere!
the other question of course is to what extent the writers are conscious of this sort of thing - do they sit down with A and A' at opposite ends of the paper, write them, then their B and B', with the central passage right in the middle of the page, and keep working at it that way? it hardly seems likely. but why not? or is it indeed something people like me must try and read into everything, so regardless of the original intent, we'll see parallels everywhere?

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Blogger Mark said...

I'm naturally dubious of any structures which appear to twist the biblical text around a very neat super imposed pattern. However, that is not to say that they don't exist! (insert persuasive argument from Richard Gibson here)

On first impression, your 1 Timothy structure looks pretty good Dougo. I'd have to sit down with the text to check it out though.

Did you preach on this letter? And if so did your symmetrical structure inform the way you taught it?

2:55 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

didn't preach on it - was just reading through it and started to see a bit of repetition/ recapitulation of earlier ideas.

i once saw a project at i think edinburgh uni (somewhere in scotland - maybe strathclyde?) where they'd worked up a massive chiasm, seeing John's gospel and Revelation as the 2 halves of it! even though it looks very unlikely, you've gotta give them credit for trying!

i guess the thing about structural stuff is it can add depth that is implied from its echoes, in much the same way as quoting from the OT does (eg Phil 2:14-17 from Dan 12:1-3).
that is, it doesn't change the meaning, but there is that extra richness that may've been intended that we miss out on.

you can grill me more 2nite if you want markus!

3:30 pm  
Blogger Jason Au said...

The html doesn't seem to be going so well on the comments page view!

In case this isn't what you did, add a semi-colon to the end of nbsp

5:36 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

cheers Ja-Z
changed it up (it doesn't look any different for me tho - using firefox on a mac - but hopefully it will work on whatever your combo is!)

5:44 pm  
Anonymous hayesy said...

What would you say to someone who said a Chiasm could probably be found in anything (Little Bo Peep, for example) if you tried hard enough?

7:49 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

Hi haysey
i think there is something particular about the genre of new testamental literature that means we would expect some chiasms. this doesn't mean that you wouldn't find it elsewhere, nor that you must find it in all NT lit.

part of the reasoning is i guess that chiasms naturally resounded with people back then, in the same way as parallelism was particularly potent in OT poems. there is a huge swathe of literary styles (eg haikus, limericks, sonnets, acrostics, and so on) that i'm sure there's some with, and many without.

did you find a chiasm in little bo peep?

10:59 pm  
Anonymous hayesy said...

ah ok
Nah, can't find one :P

10:08 am  
Blogger disa said...


8:00 am  
Blogger 楊承琳yaya said...


3:46 pm  

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