Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

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Bobcat
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Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#1 Post by Bobcat » 2 years ago

StoneCrier made a comment about chiasmus in the book of Matthew (here). So I thought I would open a thread for that here.

Here are a few links for perusal:

Here is a very interesting chiastic structure involving the entire book of Matthew. Some very in depth research in this and a downloadable PDF that is more extensive.

This page also attempts to outline the entire book in chiastic manner.

Here is an example on a smaller scale: Mt 13:13-18.

This is a Google search page with numerous other links on this specific topic.


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Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#2 Post by Bobcat » 2 years ago

Here is some discussion about chiasmus in Matthew at the Biblical Chiasm Exchange.

And some discussion about "Seidel's Law" here.

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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew - Mt 8:1 to Mt 9:34

#3 Post by Bobcat » 2 years ago

The quoted portion below comes from Constable's Notes (from here).
One of the main themes in this section (Mt 8:1—9:34) is the spreading of Jesus’ fame. This resulted in an increasing number to people concluding that Jesus was the Messiah. It also resulted in increasing opposition from Jesus’ enemies, Israel’s religious leaders, and even some of John the Baptist’s disciples. However some religious leaders believed in Jesus, Jairus being one. Opposition to Jesus was mounting among those who suffered economically because of His ministry as well as those who suffered religiously. Matthew’s primary purpose, however, was to present Jesus as the promised Messiah who could establish God’s kingdom on earth.

All of this material also prepares the reader for the next events: Jesus’ self-disclosure to His disciples in His second major discourse (Mt 10).

[Matthew] Chapters 8—9 seem to be a chiasm focusing the reader’s attention on Jesus’ power to overcome Satan (Mt 8:28-34).
A Jesus’ power to heal (Mt 8:1-17; three incidents and a summary [Mt 8:16-17])

. . . B Jesus’ authority over His disciples’ persons (Mt 8:18-22; two lessons)

. . . . . .C Jesus’ supernatural power (Mt 8:23—9:8; three incidents centered on victory over Satan) (Here)

. . . B’ Jesus’ authority over His disciples’ work (Mt 9:9-17; two lessons)

A’ Jesus’ power to restore (Mt 9:18-38; three incidents and a summary [Mt 9:35-38])
(The scripture references were reworked by Bobcat so that they would work with the RefTagger app.)

There was also an interesting point made (at the link above) about the mixture of Jairus and the woman with the flow of blood within the same account (Mt 9:18-26; See also Mk 5:21-43; Lk 8:40-56):
Jesus’ power to bring life where there was death stands out in this double instance of restoration, two witnesses for the benefit of Jewish readers especially.
“It is interesting that Jairus and this woman—two opposite people—met at the feet of Jesus. Jairus was a leading Jewish man; she was an anonymous woman with no prestige or resources. He was a synagogue leader, while her affliction kept her from worship. Jairus came pleading for his daughter; the woman came with a need of her own. The girl had been healthy for 12 years, and then died; the woman had been ill for 12 years and was now made whole. Jairus’ need was public—all knew it; but the woman’s need was private—only Jesus understood. Both Jairus and the woman trusted Christ, and He met their needs.”
I came across all this during the CLAM Book Study which included the account of Jairus' daughter and the woman with the 12 year flow of blood.


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Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew - Matthew Chapter 13

#4 Post by Bobcat » 2 years ago

Below is a section of Constable's Notes discussing the literary structure of Matthew chapter 13. It shows the chiastic structure that can be found there (quoted from here):

As elsewhere in Matthew, references to the kingdom indicate the future messianic (millennial) kingdom. However, Jesus taught some things here about the unseen growth and development of the kingdom in the inter-advent age that precede the establishment of that kingdom.

Matthew presented this discourse in a chiastic (crossing) structure.” (New Testament Studies 25 (1979):516-22.)

This structure is common in the Old Testament and in other Jewish writings. It enhances the unity of the discourse and focuses attention on the central element as what is most important. A diagram of this structure follows.
A. The introduction Mt 13:1-2

. . B. The first parable to the crowds Mt 13:3-9

. . . . C. An explanatory interlude: purpose and explanation Mt 13:10-23

. . . . . . D. Three more parables to the crowd Mt 13:24-33

. . . . . . . . E. An explanatory interlude: fulfillment and explanation Mt 13:34-43

. . . . . . D^ Three parables to the disciples Mt 13:44-48

. . . . C^ An explanatory interlude: explanation and response Mt 13:49-51

. . B^ The last parable to the disciples Mt 13:52

A^ The conclusion Mt 13:53

This structural analysis reveals that the discourse consists of two sections of four parables each, the first four to the multitudes and the last four to the disciples. In each section one parable stands out from the others. In the first group this is the first parable and in the second group it is the last one. The central section between the two groups of parables explains the function of the parables and explains one of them.

“Modern readers are so used to thinking of parables as helpful illustrative stories that they find it hard to grasp the message of this chapter that parables do not explain. To some they may convey enlightenment, but for others they may only deepen confusion. The difference lies in the hearer’s ability to rise to the challenge. Far from giving explanations, parables themselves need to be explained, and three are given detailed explanations in this chapter (Mt 13:18-23, 37-43, 49-50). But that explanation is not given to everyone, but only to the disciples (Mt 13:10, 36), and Matthew not only makes the point explicit in Mt 13:34 (only parables for the crowds, not explanations), but also confirms it by a formula quotation in Mt 13:35; parables are ‘hidden things.’ In this way the medium (parables) is itself integral to the message it conveys (the secrets of the kingdom of heaven).”

[Scripture citations in the above quote were reformatted to work with the RefTagger app - Bobcat.]

I found this while protecting my mind during the PT & WT Study on 1/13/19.

For a closer look at the chiastic structure in Matthew chapter 13, see this post and the several posts that follow it. It is (IMO) quite amazing.


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Dajo1
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#5 Post by Dajo1 » 2 years ago

.. and far more beneficial for us as well, thank you. I remember when our Hall got WiFi it was so good to have a tab or 2 open and do much other reading and studying in a broader sense. Discreetly of course. :shock:

Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew

#6 Post by Bobcat » 2 years ago

Discreetly of course
Yes. Must keep the radar on. Sometimes the Bro handling the mikes stands a little behind me. I have to be aware of who might be looking over my shoulder.

I usually keep one tab open to Lumina. It serves as a quick goto tab. But it is also useful for checking the Greek/Hebrew or commentary when the discussion is not so propagandish (is that a word?) This is how I came across the chiasm from Matthew 13. The WT (I think) had a citation from Mt 13:45-46.

At our KH you have to be early enough to connect to the wifi. I believe it has a max limit that can log on. After the limit is reached it refuses to connect. Usually I will turn my device on after I get out of my car in the parking lot and I will be logged in before I get inside. Such is life. 8-)


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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew - Links

#7 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Links for reference:

Here is a page with extensive links on chiastic structure in the book of Matthew.

Here is another page, available also in PDF format, on chiastic structure in the book of Matthew.

And here is a page entitled, Aggressive Hogs. Can you think of what verse in Matthew it is referring to?

This PDF proposes a chiastic/symmetrical structure to the sermon on the mount. Here is a description of this PDF.

More on the Sermon on the Mount: Here.

Discussion of literary structure in the Sermon on the Mount at StackExchange: Here.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew - Sermon on the Mount

#8 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Another thread on Mt 5:17 had me wondering about if the Sermon on the Mount might have some literary structure to it. Some brief research left me with a hint that there was. The phrase, "the Law and Prophets" that occurs in Mt 5:17 occurs again in Mt 7:12. And the two instances have a beginning and ending type of context, as well as some distance between the two occurrences in the sermon. This suggested the possibility that they might be placed in opposite points in a chiastic or symmetrical literary structure.

Further research showed that I was not the first person to conceive of this idea. What I found (so far) is a sort of nested structure which I have tried to reproduce here. The first is a chiasm that has the Sermon on the Mount as the center or pivot point.
A. Jesus going about teaching and healing sickness (Mt 4:23)

. . . B. Bringing the sick who were suffering, the demon possessed, all being healed (Mt 4:24)

. . . . . . C. Large crowds following (Mt 4:25)

. . . . . . . . . D. Reference to teaching (Mt 5:1)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E. Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:3-7:27)

. . . . . . . . . D^ Reference to teaching (Mt 7:28-29)

. . . . . . C^ Large crowds following (Mt 8:1) (For symmetrical structure in Mt 8:1-9:34 see this post)

. . . B^ Bringing the sick who were suffering, the demon possessed, all being healed (Mt 8:16)

A^ Jesus going about teaching and healing sickness (Mt 9:35)


The second chiasm is of the Sermon on the Mount itself. Notice that the Lord's Prayer serves as the center or pivot point to this chiasm:
A. Audience Gathered (Mt 5:1-2)

. . . B. Choosing the Way of Righteousness - Beatitudes and Persecution (Mt 5:3-16)

. . . . . . C. The Law and Prophets - Fulfilling the Law (Mt 5:17-20)

. . . . . . . . . D. Surpassing the Law (Mt 5:21-48)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E. Righteousness before God - Almsgiving and Prayer (Mt 6:1-8)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F. The Lord's Prayer (Mt 6:9-15)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E^ Righteousness before God - Fasting (Mt 6:16-18)

. . . . . . . . . D^ Trusting in God - Possessions, Judging, Asking (Mt 6:19-7:11)

. . . . . . C^ The Law and Prophets - The Golden Rule (Mt 7:12)

. . . B^ Choosing the Way of Righteousness - Contrasting Parables (Mt 7:13-27)

A^ Audience Response (Mt 7:28-8:1a)


And finally, the Lord's Prayer can also be rendered into a symmetrical literary structure:
A. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name

. . . B. Thy kingdom come

. . . . . . C. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

. . . . . . . . . D. give us this day our daily bread

. . . . . . C^ and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

. . . B^ and lead us not into temptation

A^ but deliver us from the evil one

At first it might be difficult to understand the matching in this last chiasm. This page has some discussion about the thinking behind it. (Think "inaugurated-eschatology", for which see this thread. Also see posts # 13 & 15 on this thread.)

Interestingly the first link in the paragraph above is a Russian Orthodox web site. But others also have a similar design. I've seen Catholic and LDS examples also. The LDS site also has some introductory material on various literary styles that can be found in the Bible. See a Google listing here. Ones that hold to the KJV also include the unsupported doxology at the ending of the Lord's Prayer.

Further background and research on the Lord's Prayer can be found in this post. Also see the follow on posts # 8, 11, 12, 14-16, 18.

Further research on the chiastic structure in the Sermon on the Mount can be found: Here and here.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of Matthew - Jesus' Birth

#9 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Here is a proposed chiastic/symmetrical structure to the birth of Jesus account in Matthew chapter 2. Here and here are the source pages at the Biblical Chiasmus Exchange web site. I actually combined two into just the one symmetry

Due to formatting limitations on this forum I edited the symmetry to fit as neatly as possible. At the link above you can see how it was originally formatted.

A. ... there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem ... (Mt 2:1)

. . . B. Saying, ... we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Mt 2:2)

. . . . . . C. ... Herod ... was troubled ... demanded ... where Christ should be born. (Mt 2:3-4)

. . . . . . . . . D. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea (Mt 2:5)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E. ... for ... it is written ... Bethlehem, ... out of thee shall come a Governor ... (Mt 2:6)

. . . . . . . . . D^ Herod ... called the wise men, enquired [when] the star appeared ... sent them to Bethlehem, (Mt 2:7)

. . . . . . C^ [Herod] said ... search ... for the ... child; and ... bring me word ... (Mt 2:8-9)

. . . B^ ... the star, ... went before them, ... gifts ... and worshiped him (Mt 2:9-11)

A^ Warned in a dream ... they departed into their own country another way. (Mt 2:12)

. . . B. Appeared in dream to Joseph ... take the child and mother ... flee to Egypt (Mt 2:13-14)

. . . . . . C. Stay there until death of Herod ... to fulfill what was spoken by prophet (Mt 2:15)

. . . . . . . . . D. Herod, seeing he was outwitted, slew children of Bethlehem (Mt 2:16)

. . . . . . C^. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah ... (Mt 2:17-18)

. . . B^. When Herod was dead ... Joseph told in dream ... return to land of Israel (Mt 2:19-21)

A^. Warned in a dream ... [Joseph] went to Galilee ... Nazareth (Mt 2:22-23)

At the link above, see also the comment in the comments section at the bottom of the page for a suggestion at how the chiastic structure could be tweaked.

For reference and/or additional reading, here is a post that discusses the star of Bethlehem account.


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Re: Chiastic Structure in Matthew - Entire Book

#10 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Below is a proposed chiasmus of the entire book of Matthew. Constable's Notes comments:
One writer believed Matthew constructed his Gospel as an eleven-part chiasm with the center panel occurring in chapter 13. He argued that this structure highlights the postponement of the kingdom.

The "writer" who proposed this is, Gary W. Derickson, “Matthew’s Chiastic Structure and Its Dispensational Implications,” Bibliotheca Sacra 163:652 (October-December 2006):426.

I wish I could access this article, but it requires a subscription. The title of the article, with its "Dispensational Implications" leaves me curious. (I found it! - Here)

At any rate, here is the chiastic structure of the whole book of Matthew:
A. Demonstration of Jesus’ Qualifications as King (Mt chaps. 1—4) (Chap 2, Chaps 1, 3-4)

. . . B. Sermon on the Mount: Who Can Enter His Kingdom (Mt chaps. 5—7) (Here)

. . . . . . C. Miracles and Instruction (Mt chaps 8—9) (Here, also post # 24)

. . . . . . . . . D. Instruction to the Twelve: Authority and Message for Israel (Mt chap. 10)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E. Opposition: The Nation’s Rejection of the King (Mt chaps. 11—12)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F. Parables of the Kingdom: What the Kingdom Is Like (Mt chap. 13) (Here)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E^ Opposition: The Nation’s Rejection of the King (Mt chaps. 14—17)

. . . . . . . . . D^ Instruction to the Twelve: Authority and Message for the Church (Mt chap. 18)

. . . . . . C^ Miracles and Instruction (Mt chaps. 19—23) (See posts # 18, 20, 21)

. . . B^ Olivet Discourse: When the Kingdom Will Come (Mt chaps. 24—25) (See post # 25)

A^ Demonstration of Jesus’ Qualifications as King (Mt chaps. 26—28)

The links I put in the symmetry point to other posts that show chiastic structure in that particular portion of Matthew. As more come on line I will try to put in the links for them. The "dispensational implications" mentioned above in the title of the article will be something to think about. (Unless someone has access to the Bibliotheca Sacra. :wink: Scratch that! The link to it is above.)

It is interesting that chapter 13, with its illustrations about the kingdom, forms the center or pivot of the chiasm. Note too how the Sermon on the Mount and the Olivet Discourse form symmetric parts (B & B^). And then chapters 10 and 18 form another pairing (D & D^). These parts (chapters 5-7, 10, 13, 18, and 24-25 are the five major discourses in the book of Matthew. Each ends with a formula type ending, "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings …”. And Matthew has them symmetrically placed within the book as a whole.

This document goes into some detail showing the artistic literary style Matthew employs. And here is a one-page PDF showing chiastic structure within the entire book of Matthew. As a comparison with these different documents shows, 'there is more than one way to skin a cat.'

See post # 22 in this thread for a reference to an inclusio that brackets the entire book of Matthew (Mt 1:23 & Mt 28:20). Post # 23 in this thread has some links to alternate views of how the entire book of Matthew is structured.


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