This is a brief teaching series to point to the breakthroughs shown us in Chronicles. The book itself is much more detailed.
- Part 1—Introduction: What Is Chiastics and What It Can Do
- Part 2—How to Read a Chiastic Passage, in Both Its Forms
- Part 3—What Parallel Form Tells Us
- Part 4—What Convergent Form Tells Us
- Part 5—How These Forms Change the Prophecy Landscape
We’ve been taught all our lives to read the words in the Bible (and in all other books), linearly, one after the other, in sentences. This, of course, is logical. We receive knowledge sufficient to allow us to ask Jesus Christ to be our Savior and to commit our lives to Him.
But this is not all the Bible has in store to teach us. Believe it or not, there is more to teach us beyond what is found in linear sentences.
The words have been arranged in the Bible, by the living God of heaven, in another way as well. Many of the words and phrases of the Bible in many texts are echoed by other words in the same text, or in other texts, where the echoes form two flows like two rivers of words across texts. The echoing words and word flows show us an underlying structure of the text. Once we see the structure, the Bible has much more to teach us.
Word flows and forms exist in the Gospels and in the prophecy books (and everywhere else in the Bible). For texts like the Gospels, linear reading is sufficient. We receive a saving knowledge of Christ. But they are, as shown in Chronicles, rather indispensable in the prophecy books, in which linear reading can still leave us confused.
The study of these text forms is called chiastics. A text with a structure where there are echoing word trails is called a chiastic text, or a chiasmus. If you’ve never heard of these words, I didn’t either until three years ago
Chiastically reading a text passage is to read the words of a passage, not linearly in sentences, but to read the repeated words, phrases and themes across a passage in order to discover the text’s form, or structure. The meaning of a passage is not only in its words with their meanings and in their sentences, but meaning is also found in its form.
Not really talked about by scholars, was the experience I also had, finding a greatly increased sensitivity to each and every word in a passage, which forced me to consider each word as I read.
What Chiastic Scholars Have Said
The chiastic scholar Radday wrote (with the italics being his),
Chiastic structure, it will be seen, is more than an artificial or artistic device. If it were nothing else, it would hardly warrant more than a passing illustration of a few exemplary passages. It is rather, and most remarkably so, a key to meaning. Not paying sufficient attention to it may result in failure to grasp the true theme.
And so what Chronicles will show is that for many Bible prophecy text passages, we have failed to grasp their true theme or meaning, because Bible prophecy texts have a chiastic structure.
Another scholar, Breck, wrote,
Written chiastically, biblical works must be read chiastically if they are to reveal the primary message the author wanted to convey.
It looks like Breck agrees with Radday. Incidentally, Chronicles will teach the reader how to read chiastically, by this author doing all the work.
Welch also wrote,
. . . these structures may add novel perspectives and unexpected dimension to the texts in which they appear.
Yes, the perspectives gained were very unexpected for me personally, and nothing less than breakthroughs in understanding. It clarified many things, one of which is the identity of Mystery Babylon.
What Is New About Chronicles
The breakthrough presented in Chronicles is not that chiastic word trails exist. Chiastics has been known since 1752. The academic community has confirmed chiastic texts exist all the way through the Bible. The breakthrough is that the results revealed by chiastics once viewed as not useable or understood, are now understood.
(By the way, why would chiastics need “re-discovering” and how did we lose the recognition of these structures, if the words were always there? Bible books were originally written on scrolls, where the word trails would have been more obvious. There were no punctuation marks in the original scrolls. Scrolls were opened in the middle and the word trails allowed the reader to know when an account started and ended. An entire passage stared the reader in the face. The church converted its scrolls to bound books for portability and ease of reference, but lost chiastics sometime in the second century AD, because each page breaks up a given passage. Reading page by page goes right along with reading sentence by sentence.)
Why wasn’t a book like Chronicles written, like, a hundred years ago since chiastics were rediscovered a couple centuries ago?
First, theologians usually have a presumptive view of prophecy. They saw the results of chiastic structures but didn’t now what to do with them; the results disagreed with their view (we will see an example in Part III of this series). Instead of letting the results teach them, they rejected what chiastics could show us. However, chiastic results fit in perfectly with the Signpost interpretation written about in Daniel Revisited and so I accepted chiastics’ results, and decided to see what all of Daniel, Zechariah, and all of Revelation could teach us.
Second, the chiastic word trails were, as far as I could tell, not followed far enough. A single chiastic verse will likely not tell us much. But a whole chapter in Daniel or Revelation will tell us more. Past chiastic analyses would mostly treat single chapters. But six chapters in Daniel or many chapters in Revelation, chiastically analyzed, will tell us much more. In my research I found only one author who covered all of one book, but he didn’t know what to make of the results because of the first reason given above. And finally chiastic word trails followed across two or three books tells us even more, and yet as far as I know, no one has done that. I simply connected the dots.
Combined, these two factors kept chiastic analysis on a shelf, known only by seminary students and a few pastors. But now, chiastic structures of prophecy books are unleashed, showing us much more than we dared hope for, and correcting long-held erroneous beliefs, in a rather obvious and elegant manner.
In the next parts of this teaching series, we will look at the mechanics of reading chiastically, chiastics two forms, and some applications to prophecy book chapters.
Categories: Chronicles of the End Times, teaching
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