Chiastic Structures (Genesis 8:15-9:17)

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.

Chiasm Structure in Gen. 6:10-9:19 (Source: michaeljloomis.wordpress.com)

Chiasm Structure in Gen. 6:10-9:19
(Source: michaeljloomis.wordpress.com)

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!

The B-i-b-l-e

Thank you to everyone who participated in my poll last week, posted under Back to the Basics. I asked: What do you believe about the Bible? At last check, a whopping 100% of you agreed that the Bible is God’s inspired Word to us.

I don’t want to preach to the choir, but want to follow through with my theme from last week.

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The B-i-b-l-e, yes that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God.

I hope the following summary might be useful to you or someone you know.

What’s so unique about the Bible?

  • Through sixty-six separate books, 1,189 chapters, the Bible is divinely orchestrated and inspired by God—a claim the Bible makes for itself (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:2).
  • Although God’s Word was composed by 40 different authors in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) over a span of 1,500 years on three different continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), it is a unit from beginning to end.
  • The Bible shares one extraordinary message: God loves you.
  • The Bible proves God is intimately involved and concerned about people. His unconditional love is shown in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. His sacrifice for sin allows anyone to be in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus’ work.

Interesting Facts

(Source: Study Bible Apologetics for Students, Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission)

  • Hundreds of biblical prophecies have been fulfilled (e.g., Isaiah 13; Daniel 2; Luke 21:5-6).
  • The Bible has been confirmed as being historically, archaeologically, and geographically accurate.
  • The Old Testament is 99% accurate when compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls dating from 200 B.C.
  • The New Testament is 99% accurate when compared to more than 5,600 partial and complete NT manuscripts dating from the first three centuries A.D.

80844cdbbb4f82927197b3b167c6afdbDo you regularly read God’s Word, the Bible?

Coming next . . . . “Why Study the Bible?”