Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

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Bobcat
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Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#1 Post by Bobcat » 2 years ago

Here is a listing from the book of John at the Chiasmus Exchange.

Here is a listing of chiastic structure from another site.

Below is something I copied from the BECNT-John commentary (Andreas J. Köstenberger, pp. 20-21) in connection with the chiastic structure found in the prologue of the fourth gospel. This was from a post on another board about 5 years ago. I wanted to document it here while it was fresh on my mind.

This is John 1:1-2
A Ἐν ἀρχῇ (In the beginning)

. . . B ἦν (was)

. . . . . . C ὁ λόγος, (the Word)

. . . . . . . . . D καὶ ὁ λόγος (and the Word)

. . . . . . . . . . . .E ἦν (was)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F πρὸς τὸν θεόν, (with the God)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F' καὶ θεὸς (and God)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E' ἦν (was)

. . . . . . . . . D' ὁ λόγος. (the Word)

. . . . . .C' Οὗτος (He)

. . . B' ἦν (was)

A' ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. (in the beginning with the God)

And this is the entire prologue (Jn 1:1-18):
A The Word's activity in creation (Jn 1:1-5)

. . . B John's witness concerning the light (Jn 1:6-8)

. . . . . .C The incarnation of the Word and the privilege of becoming God's children (Jn 1:9-14)

. . . B' John's witness concerning the Word's preeminence (Jn 1:15)

A' The final revelation brought by Jesus Christ (Jn 1:16-18)
The commentary mentions that there are variations of this.

And just to link similar things together, here is a thread on the "Beloved Disciple" and the possibilities that are raised in connection with Lazarus.


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Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#2 Post by Bobcat » 2 years ago

Here is the entire book's literary structure laid out in one page, as seen by the writer. He is apparently looking for language keys within the text.


Bobcat

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tslawson1
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#3 Post by tslawson1 » 1 year ago

Bobcat,

What then does the pinnacle of the stair-step highlight?

Tim


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Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#4 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Hi Tim,
What then does the pinnacle of the stair-step highlight?
Usually, the pivot or center point serves as the central idea around which the 'outer' parts are built. For example in the chiasm from the prologue above it proposes Jn 1:9-14 as the pivot or center:
C The incarnation of the Word and the privilege of becoming God's children (Jn 1:9-14)
Various proposals might differ as to the 'granularity' of their chiasm. For example, compare the line above with this person's proposal below. It simply breaks the above line into finer parts. Although, in doing so it seems to lose some of the focus on "the Word." It also shows that there is a certain amount of personal interpretation that can affect how it is seen.
E (Jn 1:8-9) 1:9 The true light was coming into the world. (Jn 1:9) (κόσμον)

. . . F (Jn 1:10-11) his own people did not accept him.(Jn 1:11) (παρέλαβον)

. . . F' (Jn 1:12-13) those who did accept him (Jn 1:12) (ἔλαβον)

E' (Jn 1:14) the Word became flesh (Jn 1:14) (σὰρξ)

Recognizing chiastic structure can also lead to seeing a larger story being told from its smaller parts. For example, see this one (that also aligns with the underlying languages that are being used.) The whole Aramaic portion tells a story about the judgment of an arrogant ruler with the history of his ruling and persecution as 'supporting evidence,' so to speak.

I also find chiasm/symmetry to be a very effective memory aid. I have very little problem now remembering the outlines of entire books based on the study of their symmetrical structure (Revelation for example).

And something you won't find anywhere else: A chiasm of how Jehovah has marshalled events during the 7th rest day: Here.


Bobcat

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Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#5 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

A proposed chiasm of John chapters 13 thru 17 copied from Biblical Chiasm Exchange (here):
A. Setting example for disciples (Focus on unity with Jesus expressed in mutual love). (Jn 13:1-35)

. . . B. Prediction of the disciple’s denial. (Jn 13:36-38)

. . . . . . C. Jesus’ departure tempered by assurance of the Father’s power. (Jn 14:1-14)

. . . . . . . . . D. The promise of the “Advocate.” (Jn 14:15-26)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E. Troubling encounter with the world. (Jn 14:27-31)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F. Jesus the vine, disciples the branches. (Jn 15:1-17)

. . . . . . . . . . . . E^ Troubling encounter with the world. (Jn 15:18-16:4a)

. . . . . . . . . D^ The promise of the “Advocate.” (Jn 16:4-15)

. . . . . . C^ Jesus’ departure tempered by assurance of the Father’s power. (Jn 16:16-28)

. . . B^ Prediction of the disciples’ denial. (Jn 16:29-33)

A^ Prayer for the disciples (Focus on unity with Jesus expressed in mutual love). (Jn 17:1-26)


Based on Wayne Brouwer’s, THE LITERARY DEVELOPMENT OF JOHN 13-17: A CHIASTIC READING. https://macsphere.mcmaster.ca/bitstream ... lltext.pdf

Incidentally, the above linked PDF (The Literary Development Of John 13-17: A Chiastic Reading) is a 230 page dissertation that was part of the author's graduate requirements. Besides John chapters 13 through 17, it discusses chiastic structure in general in both the OT and the NT.

The poster of above chiasm on Biblical Chiasm Exchange offered these additional comments:
Note: Reading the Gospel of John again I wondered about this section and then found the above. Chapter 13 begins “when Jesus knew that his hour was come”, and chapter 17 begins “Father, the hour is come”. The major sections on the Comforter in chapter 14 and chapter 16 suggests chiastic structure. The centre is the parable of the true vine and its interpretation. We have posted two overlapping chiasms for John 15:1-17. If these are correct verses 7 and 8 are in both and thereby form the very centre of the large chiastic structure.” – 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit”.

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John S
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#6 Post by John S » 1 year ago

Utter and total nonsense

Genesis
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#7 Post by Genesis » 1 year ago

Bobcat are you saying God has inspired the use of chiastic structures in the Bible?

If so why?

goghtherefore
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#8 Post by goghtherefore » 1 year ago

Something that may be related to this topic is acrostics. They are noted in the New world Translation Reference edition.

An example:

Acrostics in the Hebrew Bible

http://www.bible-researcher.com/acrostics.html


and:

THE NAME OF JEHOVAH IN THE BOOK OF ESTHER

https://www.therain.org/appendixes/app60.html



.02,

goghtherefore
“This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”
Luke 9:35

Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#9 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Thank you goghtherefore. I re-posted your links here also.


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Bobcat
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Re: Chiastic Structure in the Book of John

#10 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

Hi Genesis,

Somehow I missed your post and just came across it.

Bobcat are you saying God has inspired the use of chiastic structures in the Bible?

If so why?

What I have seen so far appears, in some instances, to be of divine origin, and in other instances to possibly be either divine or the human writer choosing to arrange his material in this fashion.

For example, compare the one on Daniel and Revelation. In Daniel's case he readily admits to being perplexed about the meaning of some of the visions he sees. That would appear to rule out Daniel organizing his material in such a way that it reveals an underlying story, which the chiastic structure does appear to produce.

In John's case with Revelation, the various visions he describes appear to be described in the order that he received them. And yet, there is a chiastic or symmetrical structure to the whole. To me, that implies a divine hand as the organizer of the various scenes and visions. (Or as Apollos said, it looks like 'God's fingerprints.')

In some other cases, it is hard to tell if it is the human writer or God (or Jesus) who are the architects of the arrangement of the material. This stackexchange page also has some comments on that thought.

One side benefit of recognizing the literary structure underlying various parts of the Bible is that (for me, anyways) it serves as a great memory aid. But there is also a benefit in the realm of understanding (e.g. this post on Mt chapter 13 and the links it includes. And here is a proposed chiasm of the entire 7th day.) Some of these lead me to think that in some way this delves into how Jehovah himself thinks. Or maybe He uses this method (and similar literary structures) as a way of communicating His thoughts. It gives His thoughts a deeper meaning than just the words themselves.

But as I said when I first began posting on this topic, it has been a matter of exploration for me. And it has grown all out of proportion to what I first expected. (Here was my first post on the topic.) So I can put up with John S telling me it is "utter and total nonsense." I've since come to know otherwise. He, of course, is free to have his own opinions. But I see that as his loss.

What other purpose behind this type of literary structure? Part of it may be to fulfill what is said at Dan 12:10. (I see many ex-JWs on another site blithely describing Revelation as John's drug crazed musings. But the chiastic structure underlying the book is evidence of a supreme intelligence behind it.) It may also have been a way for hiding what eventually is to become known. (Rev 10:7) That is another reason why I am exploring the topic.


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