Funny Things, Chiasms

In a previous post I made reference to a chiasm in Colossians 2:8-22. When I wrote it I was still in the process of weighing the usefulness of the chiasm. I’m a big proponent of paying attention to the literary nature of the Bible and I know that in other settings the chiasm is legitimate. The question isn’t really if chiasms are Biblical, I think they are probably present at least in Hebrew poetry. The question is whether they are present elsewhere or everywhere in the Bible. There is a chiasm-mania that finds chiasms everywhere.

So in my stewing and rereading Colossians 2:8-22 I stumbled upon a reason to be very skeptical of chiasms. You could make them say what you want. Here’s an alternate chiasm on that same section:

A Elementary Principles (8)

B Head (10a)

C Rule & Authority (10)

D Circumcision (11)

E Baptism (12)

D’ Uncircumcision (13)

C’ Rulers & Authorities (15)

B’ Head (19)

A’ Elementary Principles (20)

In the other chiasm I found, the center was Jesus triumph over authorities. That would make it the point of the section. In my alternate chiasm baptism is the center. That means that the entire section is about our identity in Christ. Now the thing of it is that both ideas are present in the section. The question is whether either of them are the primary point of the section. Using a chiasm as a guide will probably lead you to the answer you’re expecting to find. There is no set rule as to how you construct them.

So in this section, I think it is better to just say that Paul repeats some concepts and words. He is making a point about Jesus and that’s what we need to focus on.

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One Comment

  • What the

    Chiasm ?

    Isn’t that what Evil Knevil tried to jump over in the rock cycle of his? That man was crazy. If he’d a drove the Dixie Lee he’da made that jump.

    I have no idea what any that has to do with Bible readin! Are you turnin heretic on me now? Too much college I think.

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