WHAT IS A CHIASTIC STRUCTURE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Chiasms or chiastic structures are literary structures that help the reader to understand the connecting truth and depth of a specific passage through reverse parallelism.
Many of the biblical stories are written in this format. It is important because it lets the reader comprehend how God’s truth can be understood deeper as the middle of the chiastic structure is the main point being expressed.
Here is a sample of the chiastic structure of Jesus’ Birth and Death from Dr. Warren Gage from The Alexandrian Forum, which offers free seminary resources. Dr. Gage was one of my professors at Knox Seminary. Dr. Gage is a humble servant of God and a brilliant theologian.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
- The birth story is told through the eyes of Mary (of Nazareth) and Joseph (of Bethlehem) (Luke 2:4-5).
- Jesus is born from a virgin womb, which had “not known a man” (Luke 1:34).
- At his birth, Jesus is wrapped in swaddling bands (mummiform) and placed in a rock-hewn manger (like an ossuary or sarcophagus) (Luke 2:7).
- At his birth, angels come from heaven announcing the good news of peace on earth (Luke 2:13-14).
- Also at his birth, the shepherds are given the “sign” of the swaddling bands and the rock-hewn manger. The people marvel at the report of the shepherds (Luke 2:12-18).
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
- The resurrection story is told through the eyes of Mary (of Magdala) and Joseph (of Arimathea) (Luke 23:50; 24:10).
- Jesus is resurrected from a “virgin” tomb, where “no one had lain” (Luke 23:53).
- At his death, Jesus is wrapped in shroud bands and laid in a rock-hewn tomb (Luke 23:53).
- At his resurrection, angels come from heaven announcing the good news that “He is not here. He is risen!” (Luke 24:6).
- At the resurrection, Peter sees the “sign” of the shepherds in the shroud bands and the rock-hewn tomb. Peter leaves the tomb marveling at what he had seen (Luke 24:12).
Notice that in the middle of the chiastic structure is a tomb that Jesus’ birth and new birth came; first as a man who came to save sinners and second has the lamb of God who died for sinners. The great news of the gospel!
Dr. Gage states,
The striking correspondences between the appearance of Jesus after his birth and after his death— his body wrapped in swaddling bands and shroud bands, and placed in a stone-hewn manger and a stone-hewn tomb—demonstrate the wisdom and power of God to so orchestrate both events in order to highlight Jesus’ power over death.
The shepherds see a scene that appears at first glance to be the burial of an infant, but on closer look, the child breathes! Likewise, Jesus whose grave was sealed by the Romans, first appears to the Galilean women standing and alive, though he had been dead.
Here is the Savior Seed of the Woman, who comes forth from an undefiled womb and who comes forth from an undefiled tomb. Who has the imagination to do these things but God alone?~Dr. Warren Gage
Praise be to God for He provided the perfect sacrificial lamb who loves us enough to give up His life for us. What a perfect Christmas present we have been given wrapped in sacrificial love!
How are you certain, from reading Jesus Christ’s story of birth, death, resurrection, and ascension that He is real?
Heavenly Father, Thank You for the best Christmas gift ever—that of Jesus Christ our Savior.
Copyright 2019: The Perfect Gift of Jesus: A Chiastic Structure: Lee Ann Mancini: All Rights Reserved
Meet Our Contributor
LEE ANN MANCINI
Lee Ann Mancini received a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Regent University, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Trinity International University) in addition to two Master’s degrees from Knox Theological Seminary in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as Christian and Classical Studies.
She is an Award-winning Christian children’s author. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series, which can be found on Right Now Media, Pure Flix, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and SeaKidsTV.com. She also hosts a podcast, Raising Christian Kids.
Lee Ann is a Bible study writer for VineWords: Devotions and More, and a contributing author to Love Knots: Stories of Faith, Family, and Friendships (VineWords Publishing).
She holds a board position with South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary and is an adjunct professor. She also holds a board position with the Alexandrian Forum under the tutelage of Dr. Warren Gage Th.M., J.D., Ph.D. This forum seeks to bring a greater understanding of the Bible by hosting annual Typology Conferences in South Florida, dedicated to the theme of Christ as the center of scripture. Lee Ann speaks to women’s groups regarding the redemptive power of the gospel represented through the types of brides of the Church. She maintains memberships with the Christian Women in Media Association and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.
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