Sunday, 25 May 2008

Chiasm in John 9

Having been alerted to chiasmus everyhere in the Old Testament (David Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, Peter Leithart, A House for My Name) and in chapter 1 of John’s Gospel (thanks to Tony’s time at a summer school at Regent College, Vancouver) my antennae have been up…

I spotted this one in John 9, the healing of the man born blind. Read the story first, as it’s a true gem! The numbers in brackets refer to the size of each scene/unit, and demonstrate remarkable balance in length as well as in narrative content or movement. The man himself is a major figure in A, B, A’ and B’.

A Jesus (7)

B Pharisees (10)

C Pharisees/Parents (6)

B’ Pharisees (11)

A’ Jesus (7)

B’ intensifies the hostile questioning by the Pharisees, while A’ shows Jesus seeking the man out again with even more explicit intent and with conversation that goes beyond physical healing into spiritual healing.

Right in the middle of C is the phrase, anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ (verse 22). This verse echoes the theme verse of the gospel as a whole. In John 20:31 the apostle explains why he has written: so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and by believing have life in his name.

And is it too fanciful to see a mamma chiasmus in the book of Job (along with various parallelisms of course)?

A Job lives well (righteous and blessed)

B The heavenly court (Satan comes)

C Job loses his kids and goods

A’ Job lives well (does not curse God)

B’ The heavenly court (Satan comes again)

C’ Job loses his health

A’ Job lives well (does not curse God)

D Job and his ‘comforters’ [chs 3-27]

E Where/what is wisdom? [28]

D Job and Elihu [29-37]

B’’ God replies to Job [38-41]

A’ Job lives well (righteous and more blessed) [42]