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Chiasmus and Methodology

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  • Georg S. Adamsen
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2003
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      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 -
      eventually.

      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
      analysis.

      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.
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