Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chiasm Hint #3 - Use the Entire Passage

Imagine someone thinking, "If only those three verses were not there, this would be a great chiasm." This third Chiasm Hint suggests that the entire Bible as we have it today is the received Word from the Lord – selectively removing passages from a structure should definitely be questioned.

Let's suppose you notice that both Mark 1:22-27 and v2:10 discuss Christ's authority so you suspect a chiastic or other structure. That's good. In your analysis, you see a large public healing, the statement by Jesus "That is why I have come", and then two more healing events. Immediately you suspect a chiastic structure with the center point around the declaration of Christ's purpose in ministry (v1:38). So far this seems like a good approach.

As you continue this analysis, you might then realize that before Jesus healed the paralytic, there was an action of faith by the four men and the paralytic in v2:1-5a. You have a problem because there is no corresponding discussion of faith:

A    Jesus calls four men to follow him  (v1:16-20)
B    Jesus taught as one who had authority  (v1:21-28)
D    Many who were sick were healed and many demons were cast out  (v1:29-34)
Regarding his ministry, Jesus stated, "That is why I have come."  (v1:35-39)
D′   Jesus cleansed a leper (that is, Jesus healed him and cast out demons)   (v1:40-45)
C′   Four men and a paralytic reveal their faith by going through the roof  (v2:1-5a)
B′ Jesus showed his authority by declaring, 'Son, your sins are forgiven'  (v2:5b-12)
A′ Jesus called Levi to follow him  (v2:13-14)

The mistake that some people make is to ignore one or more elements of the structure for the sake of completion. You should look for all of the levels to be completed: no broken steps.

For centuries, Bible scholars have wondered how the original text appeared. Some have suggested that portions of the Scriptures have been added, eliminated, and moved around to suit various needs. This rearrangement is in some ways like an editor that revises a manuscript prior to publication. Since the 1950's, a theory known as redaction criticism became more popular in some Bible colleges. According to that theory, some individual or individuals redacted (i.e. edited) the original composition.

Thankfully the redaction theory is not as widely discussed as in previous years. Yet it was argued that these alterations were intended to make the Bible appear more sensational, miraculous, or authentic. As stated in an article by Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry entitled What is Redaction Criticism?, "Redaction criticism reduces the quality of the biblical record, casts strong doubt on its inspiration, and implies that the Bible is not trustworthy as a historical document."

One of the problems that these Bible scholars had was that the arrangement of the Biblical text was not always in a linear manner. Instead, chiasms and other structures seemed to put passages out of their "normal" expected order. To them, this is further evidence that there must have been a redactor.

Your Application
Your take away? Don't allow stinking redaction thinking enter your analysis process. Deal with it!

There definitely are chiasms where one leg of the parallelism is considerably longer than its parallel counterpart, and other instances where an A-B-C-D … some verses … D′–C′–B′–A′ structure is present. But the normal pattern, the one you should initially pursue, should use all the verses in the structure. No broken steps.