Saturday, April 21, 2018

More Progress with Pattern Analysis

I have now analyzed 40% of the Bible using the Pattern Analysis methodology. Here is my progress over the last two years:
0% — April 6, 2016
26% — May 6, 2017
30% — August 31, 2017
35% — January 21, 2018
40% — April 20, 2018

A sample of one of the more recent analyses may be seen at 2 Samuel 7:1-17.

In addition to the Pattern Analysis Handbook that was last updated in September 2017, I recently started a scholarly paper, Pattern Analysis Findings. While the Handbook targets those in the church body who are interested in gleaning more from the Bible, the Findings manuscript targets those of academic persuasion. It assumes that the reader is very familiar with literary analysis of the Bible, not just chiasms but a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.

My hope is that if I can get some good scholarly feedback on this methodology, then I can more confidently update and complete the Handbook. The Preface of the Findings book currently reads:
Pattern Analysis is a methodology to help us know the Holy Spirit’s emphasis within any literary unit (pericope) in the Bible. It uses established literary structure techniques, yet it also extends those techniques as well. It is intended for use by both scholars and non-scholars. A core element of this method is the belief that “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Study of the Bible’s literary structure has received increased attention in recent years from both scholars and the worldwide church. For example, many have read and/or analyzed structures using macro-level chiasms and similar approaches. This proposed method takes us from identification of structures to hearing the Holy Spirit’s emphatic voice within structures.

In April 2016, I began to prepare a database of literary structures by sampling each book of the Bible. I had read Jerome Walsh’s Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative several years earlier—I wondered if Walsh’s methodology could be used or modified to apply to the entire Bible. In particular, I was most curious to see if Walsh’s rules for emphasis could be applied throughout the Bible, or possibly modified. 1

My approach was to select at least three contiguous chapters from each book. Using the NASB as a source, the verses were not to be paraphrased, modified, or rearranged in any way. Every verse was to be included; that is, no words were to be skipped between literary units.

In April 2018 I completed that assignment by analyzing 12,400 (forty percent) of the 31,100 verses in the Bible: twenty-four books in entirety and fifteen to eighty percent of the remaining books. This paper is a presentation of the findings of that investigation.

Pattern Analysis is the name that I selected for this methodology. There are forty tools which comprise this toolbox of techniques. Many of those tools have been established by Walsh and many others over the last three centuries. I modified some of these tools based on where the emphasis was found. Some tools are new, or at least new to me. The combination and presentation of these tools is unique. When these tools were put together, the emphasis was dependably found in the expected locations.

This paper presents the results of this study with details on how these techniques appear. The purpose of this paper then is to describe this pattern analysis toolbox, how these tools appear, and the frequency of their appearance.

1.  Jerome T. Walsh, Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2001).
That is the Preface—the remainder is still to be written and may some day be published as a book. As with other scholarly papers such as a thesis or dissertation, this will take some time. If you are interested in being notified when the Handbook or the Findings is available to the general public, please contact me:

Oh to enjoy the refreshing Word of God, Tom

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

How to Find Where Literary Units Begin and End Within the Bible

If you are one to either identify or read about chiasms in the Bible, I have a question: are there clearly identified boundary markers that indicate where the structure begins and ends? I have just completed that task for myself, approximately 1,000 literary units which include 10,800 of the 31,100 verses in the Bible. In the process, I had to make some modifications and I'm glad I did—the resulting changes were often much more profound. In essence, I believe this exercise corrected some mistakes that I made.

Now that is a mouthful so I need to explain. In the Bible, literary units are similar to a paragraph. In the English language, well-designed paragraphs identify a logical block of text with each paragraph presenting a common topic. In the Bible, each literary unit contains one or more literary devices such as a chiasm, a list, an alternation, etc. Therefore, I am recommending that every chiasm, list, alternation, etc., should be identified with its boundary markers.

In the ancient languages of the Bible, paragraph marks did not exist. Instead, boundaries were placed in the text to mark off where the common topic began and ended. In that way, the discussion started, the topic was discussed, and then the discussion ended. There are three types of boundaries: frames, beginning markers, and ending markers.

I suspect that the frame is the most easily understood of the three types of boundaries. You may have sometimes heard of them as bookends for they act like a structure that holds a series of books in place. Frames are sometimes the exact words in both the first and last appearance. More often they are the same theme which are expressed using similar words. Sometimes the two themes are opposites.

Two examples may help clarify the frame. In Leviticus 18:1-5, the words, ‘I am the Lord your God.’ appear as a frame in verses 2 and 4; the literary structure between those is an alternation. Note also that the words in verse 5 are a concluding summary, an integral part of the literary unit but not part of the frame.

As another example, please look with me at the literary unit for Luke 10:27-37. After the introductory summary in verses 27 and 28, the man asked Jesus “And who is my neighbor?” in verse 29. Then in verse 36, Jesus asked “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor?” Both parts of the frame are essentially the same question. In this way, the boundary of the literary structure is identified.

Beginning Markers
The most common way that boundaries appear is by the use of beginning markers. Imagine writing a 20-page paper without paragraphs. Instead of paragraphs, suppose you wrote the words “Next topic:” whenever a new topic was discussed. In the same way, beginning markers clearly identify a literary unit.

I first read about beginning markers in Dr. David Dorsey’s book, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, 1999. In the illustration at the right, the boundaries of the first literary unit are identified by the two beginning markers.

For example, if the literary structure is a chiasm about Jesus speaking at the Sea of Galilee, a beginning marker might first identify that Jesus crossed over to the other side of the lake, and a second beginning marker might be a change of speaker because the Pharisees challenged Him. I am calling His crossing the lake a change of location and the challenge by the Pharisees a change of speaker. There are twenty types of beginning markers in my database—change of location and change of speaker are two of the more common ones.

Ending Markers
The least common type of boundary marker that I've seen is the ending marker. These also are identified in Dr. David Dorsey’s book, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament. My analysis to date is 35% of the entire Bible whereas Dr. Dorsey's analysis is limited to the Old Testament. There are some small differences between our two approaches.

In the illustration on the right entitled Three Literary Units, the middle literary unit does not have either a beginning or an ending marker. Instead, the ending marker of the previous structure along with the beginning marker of the subsequent marker are used to identify the boundaries of that middle structure.

An example of an ending marker occurs in Mark 1:38 where Jesus stated, “Let us go somewhere else …” to the disciples. In the Old Testament, it is stated that, Thus Moses finished the work in Exodus 40:33. I have identified both of these ending markers as a concluding marker.

I strongly encourage those of us that perform literary analysis of biblical structures to identify the boundary markers. If you would be interested in my list of beginning and ending markers, please email me at I will then send you an excerpt from my forthcoming book entitled Pattern Analysis Handbook as well as a notification when the book is available for purchase.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Christian Authors Must Be More Accountable than the National Media

Many Christians in the USA today are having problems with the national media. There are many reports that they are presenting the truth incorrectly. The plea seems to be, ‘Where do I go to find reliable truth?’

How do we feed our sheep? If a preacher stood up on Sunday to deliver a message on Job and Jabez, suggesting that they are one and the same person, we would all hopefully scream loudly. The congregation would certainly wonder if that was the right church for them.

In the same way, Christian authors have an immense responsibility to present God’s Word correctly. We can’t help but see Christianity through our own lens and that of our church’s denomination—that’s not what I’m writing about. I’m stating that we authors have a heavy responsibility to adequately research and present correctly the Word of God. The national media is being increasingly held to a higher standard—shouldn’t we, too?

The biggest offense I see is Christian authors taking a verse out of context. Big problem! One-liners that, without the consideration of the surrounding text, take on a completely new meaning.

I was asked this week to read the latest book by a leading Christian author. On the first page he quoted one of the psalms. The sense that he used was completely contrary to the whole theme of the psalm. He possibly used a word search to find the verse but did not ask himself what that ten-verse psalm was really saying. In this case, his Bible translation had used a word that has two meanings and he used the wrong meaning. We must read the text in context to assure we are not inadvertently presenting God’s Word incorrectly.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Progress Update on Pattern Analysis

Today I met a short-term goal: I have now analyzed 30% of the Bible using the Pattern Analysis methodology. My goal when I started this effort a year ago was to take a sampling of every book of the Bible with a minimum of 10% of each book or three chapters, whichever is more comprehensive. I am very close to completing that goal with today being another milestone. Hallelujah!

Over this past year I had to substantially enhance the Pattern Analysis model to accomodate the new patterns that I was seeing. With this improved model, I can say that every verse that I’ve looked at has fit into one or more literary patterns. That is, I am not seeing any evidence at this time where an editor (the technical name is a redactor) has modified the biblical text. All the variations that people use to support the theory of a redactor are, at least in my analysis so far, the Holy Spirit’s use of emphasis.

The current model that I am using may be seen in part at Pattern Analysis Handbook. That handbook is currently undergoing scholarly review and will hopefully be published in 2017. You may email me at for more information and/or notification of availability.

*** Update on 1/21/2018 ***:
While I have now completed 35% of the Bible, I have decided to postpone publication for some period of time because I want to be absolutely positive that the approach that I have been seeing is correct. I expect my various writings about Pattern Analysis will be controversial because people who do not believe the Bible was inspired by God will attempt to punch holes into this methodology. Thank you for your patience—if you wish, I will be very glad to add you to my mailing list as the various teachings and workbooks become available.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

An Example of Pattern Analysis: Acts 3:1-11

Pattern Analysis, an analytical tool to help discern the emphatic voice of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, is one step closer to being released to the public. I am so excited because the first book, Pattern Analysis Handbook: A Compact Guide, has been sent to a few Bible scholars for their technical review. I can now, for the moment, concentrate on the web-based presentation of these structured themes.

Pattern analysis allows us to use our native language (mine is English) to understand what was most important to the Holy Spirit when He inspired the Bible. We don't need to know the ancient Hebrew or Greek although that is always a good thing. Instead we analyze the repetitive patterns to help us find what is most important. These patterns, what I call structured themes, persist in whatever language you are using as long as your translation is fairly literal.

I typically use the New American Standard Bible (NASB) because it attempts to adhere to the original languages without rephrasing for the sake of readability. When sentences are reorganized or new paragraphs started which are not logically based literary units, these structured themes can be much more difficult to discern. Reorganized text can lead to the association of two themes that were not intended to be associated together.

Back to pattern analysis. A chiasm is one of the ways that themes were organized. Here is an example from Acts 3:1-11. On the left side of that page, there is a brief explanation of four emphatic portions to that chiasm. Then as you scroll over each of the elements on the right, the colors should change to reflect their association.

You may contact me directly at for further inquiries about pattern analysis.
Many blessings, Tom

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pattern Analysis in the Bible

I believe I am onto something significant regarding the Bible. I'm calling it Pattern Analysis—a way of reading the Bible for greater understanding and meaning. Pattern Analysis includes literary devices such as the chiasm and lists and summarizations; forty devices in all. I'm really excited to start showing this tool later this year but my work is not yet ready.

A year ago I announced that Discovering Emphasis in the Bible is ready for review. I received some comments that basically said I need to dig deeper. At the same time, the Holy Spirit nudged me to develop a catalog of structured themes. I never imagined the extent and beauty that would be revealed to me from this process. They were right, I was not ready.

Today I have completed cataloging 25% of the Bible: 18% of the Old Covenant and 45% of the New. While that is more than 800 structured themes, I'm not done yet. But what I can say is that so far there is not a verse that does not fit into this methodology!

Why is that important to you? Because Pattern Analysis,
  1. organizes Bible passages into complete units,
  2. clarifies the text and often adds new meaning, and
  3. reveals one or typically several emphatic messages in each structure
Pattern Analysis also gives considerable credibility to the thinking that the Holy Spirit inspired the entire Bible. Just as you can look at the signature on a credit card receipt to see if it is from your spouse, so it seems we can use Pattern Analysis to ask, Is this passage from that same source?. Pattern Analysis supports the thinking that there is a Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Bible.

Through this medium called the Bible Discernments blog, I hope to keep you informed about my progress. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Tom

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thematic Structures in the Bible Expose Fresh Meanings

I've been studying chiastic structures in the Bible for over 15 years. When I mention that to most Bible-believing people, a glaze typically comes over their face. If they're interested, I offer to show them Matthew 6:24, a very simple chiasm with boat loads of profound truth.

A    No one can serve two masters.
B    Either you will hate the one
C    and love the other,
C′ or you will be devoted to the one
B′ and despise the other.
A′ You cannot serve God and wealth.
(Matt 6:24 NASB)

I explain that to many people, this verse conveys the thought that we must choose which master we will serve: God or wealth. While I believe that is correct, I boldly state that there is a far more profound understanding when looking at it from the standpoint of a chiasm.

I suggest that a chiasm is like a sandwich, bread at the top and bottom, mustard or mayonnaise on the bread, some lettuce next to the mayo, and then some meat. The meat is the important part.

In A and A′, the bread is revealed as two masters, God and wealth. The mustard or mayonnaise is the hate and despise in B and B′, and the meat is love and 'be devoted to' in C and C′.

Here is the clincher: I suggest that in a chiasm, the center is generally considered the emphatic portion of a passage, just as the meat is the major reason to purchase the sandwich. So I ask, “What is in the middle?” The answer is love and 'be devoted to.' “To who?” I then ask. The obvious answer is God. To that I then conclude this verse is emphasizing love, not service, to that master. When we love Him, then service is a natural outflow.

Types of Thematic Structures
There are five basic types of thematic structures in the Bible: chiasm, parallel symmetry, alternating repetition, immediate repetition and lists. The most common is the chiasm. In a brief look at 200 structures in both the Old and New Testament over the last 3 weeks, I found that 32% were chiastic, 24% contained parallel symmetry, 23% alternating repetition, 15% immediate repetition, and 6% lists. A substantial number of these contain variations that make their study most intriguing.

My hope is to help people learn how to read their Bible from the standpoint of thematic structures. The many gems that clarify the meaning of a passage are hidden within these structures. These gems then point to a Holy Spirit-type of interaction that emphatically reveals the meaning and application of the passage. My next book Discovering Emphasis in the Bible, which Lord-willing will be published later this year, attempts to take people through that identification and discovery process.

If you are interested in being notified when the book is available, my email address is

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Word Duplication in the Hebrew Portions of the Bible

The Hebrew portion of the Bible contains an intriguing technique to strongly emphasize an action: word duplication. If you said, “I will obey obey God” in English, it would make little sense. In Hebrew, that duplication gives very strong emphasis to the commitment to obey. You might say instead, "I will totally obey." My hope in this article is to teach how you can recognize this duplication technique – that is, how the Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures with this technique.

This literary device is also known as iteratio and subjunctio.

This rhetoric occurs when a word is repeated. Using the book of Zechariah (NASB), here are some instances of word duplication:

“Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the Lord.” Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And it will take place if you completely obey the Lord your God. (v6:15)

The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” (v8:21)

“Woe to the worthless shepherd
Who leaves the flock!
A sword will be on his arm
And on his right eye!
His arm will be totally withered
And his right eye will be blind 1.” (v11:21)
Footnote: 1 Lit completely dimmed

It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it. (v12:3)

Many times, an adverb [recognized by the -ly at the end of the word] indicates a duplicated Hebrew word.

In a sense, our English diminishes the word repetition. If you said, “I will jump jump over the candlestick”, that does not infer a jump that is twice as high. Rather, it points to the wholehearted commitment to jump over the candlestick. No burnt pants from that jump!

In our effort to hear the voice of God through the Holy Spirit, even the little things in language can provide a strong look into the heart of God. See if you can find examples of word duplication in these verses from Deuteronomy (NASB):

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. (v4:26)

You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you. (v6:17)

And when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. (v7:2)

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Bible: Why a Verbal Plenary Inspiration is Important to You

Never heard about a verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible? I had not either but it makes total sense to me. It is the understanding that the Bible was verbally inspired by God and it is the absolute authority (plenary) of His Word. From this view we can make the faith statement that, “The Bible is totally reliable.”

Imagine yourself a ten or twelve year old girl, having been told that your father loved you but never fully believing it or hearing it or even reading it. Daddy has been away for a very long time and never communicates directly. Mommy only tells you that your father loved you and still loves you. She tells you stories and may even write you notes, but they are not his words. You desperately want to hear it from the man who fathered you, a man you do not know.

This is what has happened to the Church. For well over one hundred years, theologians have audaciously presented to Bible students the thought that the Holy Scriptures have been modified by men. For example, they suggest that some man named Matthew took his portion of the ‘canon’ from either another man named Mark or some other manuscript called a Q or Quell.

These theologians are now our pastors, having been trained and are now teaching the people in our churches that the book of Matthew was passed on from someone else. To them, it is not authoritative. They present theories such as historical criticism and source criticism that report about God’s love. These words are not trustworthy because they do not directly come from the original source.

These theories are not just about Matthew, they involve every book of the Bible. These theories promote statements such as “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB) but they take away the Bible’s profound impact. They also promote the thought that some man (or men) called a redactor modified the text, placing it into the form we now have before us.

Dear ten-year-old girl, please know that when the Bible refers to God’s immense love for you, it is spoken through the Holy Spirit. He is the embodiment of God. He loves you, not some other man or some other deity saying this about God, but God himself.

For example, Daniel 9:4 records a portion of a prayer by Daniel:

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments … ”
There are two ways we can look at that single verse:
  • a man acting as a narrator who recorded that prayer, or
  • the Holy Spirit that took the words of prayer for all mankind.
I suggest to you that the Bible is much more than the words of some narrators which have been modified by men over the years. Instead, it is the Word given to you personally through the Holy Spirit so that you can know His character. This Daddy has not been away for a very long time. This Daddy communicates continuously, for the one who has an ear. He truly loves you.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Abbreviated Lists in Biblical Literary Structure

An abbreviated list is the frequent appearance of listed items in the Bible but not all items are repeated. To put it another way, an abbreviated list is a literary device where the shortened form is representative of the whole.

I replaced the landscaping in front of our house in 2015. I selected a weeping blue spruce for the centerpiece which is surrounded by a variety of other plants: a white pine, a Japanese maple, three blue cloak firs, some cotoneasters, barberries, junipers, yews, weigela, and assorted flowers. When I call this the "blue spruce and Japanese maple plantings", that is an abbreviated list.

In Deuteronomy 13:3,4 (NASB) there is a list of seven statutes:

For the LORD your God is testing you to find out if
  • you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
  • You shall follow the LORD your God
  • and fear Him;
  • and you shall keep His commandments,
  • [and] listen to His voice,
  • [and] serve Him,
  • and cling to Him. 1

This list is abbreviated many times in Deuteronomy. Think of all seven when you see reduced lists such as verses 11:22 and 13:18.

“For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him,” (v11:22)

“… if you will listen to the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God.” (v13:18)

When you discover an abbreviated list, it is emphatic simply because it is frequently repeated. Even the single reference in verse 29:9 is an abbreviated way of stating the entire list.

“So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.” (v29:9)

The clue to finding these abbreviated lists is in their extensive repetition.

1. The words [and] appear in the Hebrew text but do not appear in the NASB. If the first letter of a Hebrew word is the character Vav, that is usually the word AND.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Throw Away Your Bible In A Year Plan; Pursue Meaningful Study Instead

I remember the nutritionist stating to my wife, "You have a choice: continue staying on your prescription medications or stop taking them. You may have good reason to continue taking them; discuss that with your doctor. I am not telling you to stop taking them, I just believe there is a better plan."

My wife went from seven prescription medications each day to one, a thyroid medication that she will take for the remainder of her life. She made that choice over three years ago–her blood pressure has dropped to normal ranges, her cholesterol blood work has been consistently good, and her other complications have been under control. She is living a normal healthy life and enjoying those benefits with the help of her nutritionist.

If you are under your pastor's direction to read the Bible in a year, that is between you and him or her. If you have not read the Bible through twice, cover to cover, I recommend reading it in a year so that you catch the big picture. But to many people, a daily Bible reading plan may have stolen your precious time.

There is wonderful, glorious, and exciting joy in digging into the Scriptures, and that is what I propose as an alternative. Make your time meaningful. Renew your time with the Lord.

I have been teaching a Bible study based on my soon-to-be-published books: Daniel Chapter 2: A Workbook and Discovering Emphasis in the Bible. This small Bible study group is helping me improve the quality of those two manuscripts while they learn a new tool. The Daniel workbook uses sixteen lessons as reveals intricacies in chapter two; each workbook lesson draws from the reference book, Discovering Emphasis in the Bible. Both books teach how to make your Bible reading more fulfilling.

Last night I used Chapter One of Discovering Emphasis in the Bible as the basis for our study. I again presented the DIG approach which is at the core of this teaching: Discern the literary structure; Identify the emphasis; and Glean the Holy Spirit’s individual message for you.

We first read Psalm 43, a very brief psalm yet one that may seem confusing. Here is that psalm from the NASB:
1 Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
2 For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Everyone in the group last night expressed some confusion: "Why does this psalm seem to contradict itself?" We then read Chapter One of Discovering Emphasis in the Bible. Not only did they see the advantage of literary structure from that chapter, they understood why a year-long march through the Bible limits their study. That half-hour, or whatever time is allotted, could be much more productive and thereby more satisfying.

If you would like a free copy of Chapter One of Discovering Emphasis in the Bible, please send me an email to Tom at In return, I will send you the five page PDF that we studied last night and will add you to my mailing list which announces the publication of new manuscripts. I will not sell or otherwise misuse your information, for it is an honor to send this occasional marketing material to you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chiasm with an Ellipsis: John 16:16-19

You ask, "What is an ellipsis? I have learned about chiasms, what is an ellipsis?" According to E. W. Bullinger, ellipsis appears in the Bible when "a word or words are omitted … in order that we may not stop to think of, or lay stress on, the word omitted, but may dwell on the other words which are thus emphasized by the omission."

When the ellipsis appears within a literary structure such as a chiasm, it behaves as if it were there. This literary device is best seen by illustration. Below is John 16:16-19. The phrase
A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.
appears three times. The fourth time, the one with the ellipsis, is shown in violet. The ellipsis makes it appear that the entire phrase was stated even though it was omitted.

A    “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.”  (v16)
B    Some of His disciples then said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’  (v17A)
X    and, ‘because I go to the Father’?“  (v17B)
B′ So they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.”  (v18)
A′ Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’?”  (v19)

Once I learned from Bullinger how to recognize the ellipsis, my understanding of chiastic and other structures became even more clear. I hope it helps your analysis, too.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Enemy's Attack on the Bible

In my soon to be published book Discovering Emphasis in the Bible: Hearing God's Voice through Literary Structure, I present three steps to better hear God's voice. The process is deemed DIG:
  1. Discern the literary structure of a passage
  2. Identify the emphasis within that literary structure
  3. Glean God's personal message for you based on that emphasis
This study will teach you how to recognize the 14 most common types of literary structure in the Bible. Each type has its own method for detecting the emphasis. Where a structure exists, this process works for Genesis through Revelation.

The book targets two groups of born-again believers: those that are having a difficult time hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit and those that want to dig deeper into the Bible.

Hallucinogenic Drugs
While I would hope that everyone would benefit from my manuscript, there is one group that I specifically cannot target: those involved in illicit drugs. These drugs, such as marijuana, ketamine, cocaine, and heroine, distort a person's ability to think and react in both the short-term and the long-term.

Confusion is a significant tool of the enemy to distract us from understanding the biblical text. Not only does the drug's high prevent good comprehension, so there is a long-term effect that impedes wisdom in pattern recognition. The good news is that over time, continued abstinence restores this processing power that God gave us.

In our United States and throughout the world, drug abuse has become a very significant problem. So has Bible illiteracy. Is there a correlation? I suspect so.

I am not an expert on the effects of these drugs on our minds, but it makes sense to me. In my own experimentation with marijuana about 45 years ago, my ability to think through problems diminished quickly. I thought there was no difference in my cognitive skills while I was not high; once I stepped away from all substance abuse, I saw differently.

Here is some research that supports my understanding: National Institute on Drug Abuse: What are marijuana's long-term effects on the brain?. For example it states, "As people age, they lose neurons in the hippocampus, which decreases their ability to learn new information."

The enemy is continually attempting to separate us from pursuing our God. His tactic of confusion through drugs seems to have worked for many people. If your state is looking to legalize marijuana, consider getting involved in defeating that effort. And if your child suddenly comes home with poor grades in a subject, be aware–there may be more to it than the pretty girl nearby.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Is Your Chiasm Meaningful?

The book of Proverbs has many great aphorisms (brief sayings) that are full of wisdom. Some of these have a chiastic A-B-B′-A′ shape but the center point is often not particularly meaningful. That is, there does not seem to be an emphatic center in these chiasms. Consider this example from Proverbs 22:22,23 (NET Bible):
A  Do not exploit a poor person because he is poor
    B  and do not crush the needy in court,
    B′ for the Lord will plead their case
A′ and will rob those who are robbing them.
In both B and B′ the setting is a court scene; the A and A′ versets are pictures of one triumphing over another. The shape is chiastic but the emphasis is not the court scene.

Instead the emphasis should be the contrast between verses 22 and 23. Simplified, these two verses could be stated as:
A  Do not abuse a poor person,
    A′ Else the Lord will abuse you.
The problem is not limited to Proverbs, where chiasms do not seem to have a strong center point. Consider Genesis 1:27 (NASB) for example. The structure is clearly chiastic and has been referenced by many as an example of a chiasm. However, to me it does not demonstrate the emphatic value of chiastic structures:
A  God created man
    B  in His own image,
    B′ in the image of God
A′  He created him.
I believe this value statement is individual and should be inspired to each person. To a certain extent, whether a center point is meaningful or not is subjective. To me, God's creation is more important than the image He created. It may be emphatic to you but not so much to me. I grant that some will see things differently than others.

SO, when you believe you have located a chiasm, go beyond the beauty of your finding. Ask yourself, "Is this chiasm meaningful to me?" Then ask, "Why?"