Chiasmus and Methodology
- Dear list members
I have not been able to read much on this list for some time because of
other duties. However, in an attempt to catch up on that, I noticed a
request for methodology as regards the determination of chiasms,
concentric structures or examples of epanados.
This is really a question of how to determine structure(s). I would like
to call attention to a number of works which have not yet found their
way to http://www.book-of-revelation.com/apcstruc.html. But they will -
My position, which I have set forth in my thesis, is that there are
quite a lot of concentric structures in Revelation, but that they do not
cross sections. This raises the question as to how one determines
sections. I believe we should follow Kempson, Hellholm, Mazzaferri and
Bauckham, among others, and make use of structural markers found in the
text. I also believe Bauckham has a very strong point when he calls
attention to the need for aural markers. This means that, e.g., the
sixth seal consists of 6,12-7,17, since neither 7,1 nor other verses
seem to have any structural markers comparable or "stronger" than the
numbering of the seals. I also find the numbering system so strong that
chap. 12-13 should not be taken as a new start. Rather, chapters 12-14
is the first MEGA SEMEION, while chapters 15-16 is the second. I think
that both these SEMEIA should therefore be seen, together with 11:15-19,
as the content of the seventh trumpet.
Many attempts to show that Revelation has many concentric structures do
not, in my opinion, deal with formal structures, but, rather, with
thematic and narrative coherence. The promises to the victors in
chapters 2-3 create expectations that are not fulfilled until the last
chapters. I think many narratives make use of comparable devices. In
fact, is this not one of the ways in which a narrative "invites" the
audience to keep watching/reading until the "bitter" end?
Thematic connections are not always a sufficient basis for structural
analyses. The may also be judged as risky arguments in that thematic
connections may sometimes be somewhat subjective.
What do you think?
Georg S. Adamsen
The Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus
References (there are other important works, such as those by Fiorenza,
Giblin and others)
Bauckham, Richard J. The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of
Revelation. Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1993. I think, it is chapter 1. He
accepts Mazzaferri's identification of the scroll in Rev 5 and the
little scroll in Rev 10.
Hartman, Lars. "Form and Message: A Preliminary Discussion of "Partial
Texts" in Rev 1--3 and 22,6ff." Pages 129-49 in L'Apocalypse johannique
et l'Apocalyptique dans le Nouveau Testament. Edited by Jan Lambrecht.
Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensum 53. Leuven: Leuven
University Press, 1980.
Hellholm, David. "The Problem of Apocalyptic Genre and the Apocalypse of
John." Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers 21 (1982): 157-98.
Cf. the next one. A very detailed and technical analysis. Hellholm's
works may be difficult to read, but they are well worth the efforts.
________. "The Problem of Apocalyptic Genre and the Apocalypse of John."
Semeia, no. 36 (1986): 13-64.
Kempson, Wayne Richard. "Theology in the Revelation of John."
Ph.D.-dissertation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
Louisville, 1982. Kempson analyses different approaches to structural
Mazzaferri, Frederick David.The Genre of the Book of Revelation From a
Source-Critical Perspective. Beiheft zur Zeitschrift für die
neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 54.
Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1989. Mazzaferri makes use of Kempson and
Hellholm and has some very good analyses of the structure. However, he
argues that the term "little scroll" means "scroll" and that the scroll
in Rev 5 and the little scroll in Rev 10 are therefore the same scroll.
This is unwarranted for many reasons.