The Bible is more than just great stories with wonderful prose and poetry – it is personal instructions from our loving God who sometimes speaks in unexpected ways.” – Thomas B. Clarke
(Author of Joshua’s Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Chiasms of Joshua)
I’ll be honest. This section in Genesis has thrown me for a loop.
It’s not the comprehension, but the structure of this passage that feels scattered to me: similar themes repeated, but in random order, kind of like a math pattern. (Math has always been a challenge for me.)
How Lord, I asked, can I organize this section without messing up the order. . . . Is there an order?
And then my husband told me about the chiastic structure of Matthew that our pastor taught one Sunday when I was gone. After looking up chiastic structure, I realized, there is an order to this passage! But it’s nonlinear, not in the kind of sequence I’m used to. And, I learned, the Bible is full of chiastic structures.
What is a Chiasm?
A quick definition: A chiasm is a repetition of similar ideas in the reverse sequence.
Chiastic structure is a literary structure used in the Torah, the Bible, and some other works. Concepts or ideas are placed in a pattern for special emphasis, such as ABC….CBA, with the main point in the middle, (much like a sandwich). This structure often places the same concept at the first and at the last, the second concept also appears second to last, etc.
So now you’ve been forewarned. This post strays from my usual linear approach. But I thought this was a neat discovery, another proof of the power and beauty of God’s inspired Word.
You may open the following Word Documents to see more chiasms in this Genesis section:
Chiastic Structure of Gen. 8:15-9:7
Chiastic Structure of Gen. 9:8-17
For more on chiasms in the Bible see: What is a Chiasm?
Next week I’ll pick apart these chiasm sandwiches. 🙂 Have a great Fourth of July weekend!