top of page
What is a Chiasm?

A Chiasm in Scripture is known as a literary mountain in the Bible--a unique device whereby Bible writers were able to hide a theme of matching parallel thought in the original text--the Hebrew and Greek texts.  These Chiasms are in the shape of a mountain which contains these matching thoughts in a stair step fashion, which leads to a focal point at the summit,  the main focus or pinnacle thought of the passage.  The reverse thought is then mentioned

in a parallel or contrasting pattern back down the other side.

Why are Chiasms important to look for, identify and study?

"Some portions of Scriptures are indeed too plain to be misunderstood, but there are others whose meaning does not lie on the surface to be seen at a glance.  Scripture must be compared with scripture. There must be careful research and prayerful reflection.  And such study will be richly repaid.  As the miner discovers veins of precious metal concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who perseveringly searches the word of God as for hid treasure find truths of the greatest value which are concealed from the view of the careless seeker. The words of inspiration, pondered in the heart, will be as streams flowing from the fountain of life."  SC 90.3    {Chiasms fall into this category.}

There are a number of reasons why one should study to identify chiasms. 

    1 - They stimulate the mental faculties to explore deeper truths in God's word.

    2 - It is exciting to discover new gems in Scripture and it encourages one to 

         explore old truths in new light.

    3 - It shows the continuity and consistency of Scripture, for all the Bible writers

         wrote in a chiastic style using chiasms or chiasmus as sometimes referred,

         throughout their books.

How do you find a chiasm?
Start by looking for a simple A-B-B-A  pattern, like that in Mark 2:27, where
the text says, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
Its the statement in reverse order. Both "A"s are known as book ends, would be the word 'Sabbath'. The "B" segments would be the word 'man'. Or like the one in John 5:19, below with the whole text written out. Both should be regarded as simple chiasms or chiasmus as some call them.
More complex chiams are also known as envelop construction can go several layers deep, such as A-B-C-D-E-E-D-C-B-A, as you'll see in some of those categories on the prior page.
A    The Sabbath 
     B   man
     B   man
A     the Sabbath
             - Mark 2:27
A    The Son can do nothing of Himself
     B   but what he seeth the Father do
     B   for what things soever He doeth
A   these also doeth the Son likewise.
                                    - John 5:19
bottom of page