[b-hebrew] chiasmus and topic

Michael Hildenbrand mdh at elijah.tfc.edu
Sun Mar 7 15:17:46 EST 2004

	There is a lot of material out there on the topic of chiasmus.
Probably the most recent work is The literary structure of the Old
Testament : a commentary on Genesis-Malachi / David A. Dorsey dated 1999.
This is a more practical work than theoretical, but he traces the use of
the device through the Hebrew Bible.  His introduction is also valuable
not only for seeing some of the background of how those who study this
feature of Hebrew literature, but also how it appears in other
	Next in terms of age would be Breck, John. The Shape of Biblical
Language:  Chiasmus in the Scriptures and Beyond.  Crestwood, N.Y.:  St.
Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1994.  He not only presents the theory and
support but actually advances the study of chiasm.  He does a lot of study
in the NT, which is where the modern study of chiasmus began (in the
1820s, but the NT authors were mainly Jewish and were rooted in the Hebrew
Bible anyway, so these structures were probably learned from their
knowledge of the Hebrew Bible.
	John W. Welch, Chiasmus in Antiquity:  Structures, Analyses,
Exegesis.  Gerstenberg Verlag, Hildesheim, 1981.  His is a fine work
(though now dated) using multiple authors to point out the feature in the
various ancient Near Eastern literatures.  Quite a valuable resource,
	There are many individual articles written on the subject.
Lastly, I would mention my own work on the topic: Structure and Theology
in the Holiness Code, which is in proofs now.  In this I avoid the
weakness of some of these studies in that I find *verbal* parallels rather
than *topical* parallels, moving the study to a more objective base.  I
also recognize that not *every* part of the Hebrew Bible is structured
into chiastic structures.  There are very many more types of structures,
as well as some places in Scripture where there is no determinable
structure.  In the latter, I believe the lack of structure is deliberate.

Michael Hildenbrand
Toccoa Falls College

On Fri, 5 Mar 2004, Joe Abrahamson wrote:

> Does anyone on this list know of studies on the use of chiasmus as a
> method in highlighting discourse topic?
> For instance:
> I Sam 1:1-3 consists of three narrative sentences that are built on the
> chiasm:
> Elkanah
>   Hannah
>    Peninah
>    Peninah
>   Hannah
> Elkanah
> The center of the chiasm highlights the point of conflict between Hannah
> and Peninah. The narrative following presents the conflict as its topic
> in greater detail.
> I haven't researched enough know if this is just an isolated instance.
> But before I start doing that I was wondering if someone had done some
> research into this already.
> Thanks much,
> Joseph Abrahamson
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