Re: 1 Cor 12:1-11

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Nov 06 1998 - 09:55:15 EST

<x-flowed>At 1:31 PM +0000 11/6/98, Maurice A. O'Sullivan wrote:
>You are quite right, IMHO, about the chiastic structure.
>But I think, when you say:
>>>This chiasm probably serves no purpose other than to give a pleasing
>structure to the enumeration of the gifts. <<.
> you seriously underestimate the importance of chiasm in the oral
>reception/transmission of the texts.
>I know that this whole transmission question is a highly controverted one,
>and I have no desire to open that particular can here <vbg> but in support
>of your point that:
>>>> Perhaps it even served as a mnemonic device for those who might have
>cared to memorize the list << [ I would delete 'perhap' ]
> I cannot resist pointing out that Martin Hengel in his " Studies in the
>Gospel of Mark ( London: SCM 1985 ) on p. 109: reports an interesting
>example of the persistence of the memorized in the first few centuries of
>our era:

Not to belabor a very good point at great length, but one could hardly
overemphasize the importance of "ring-composition"--which is what chiasm is
on a smaller and often fundamentally rhetorical level--for the preservation
and transmission of oral tradition. It plays a very important role in Homer
that any reader of Homer in the Greek is more likely to discern than one
who only reads a translation.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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