Re: Chiasm in English

Date: Sat Nov 07 1998 - 13:15:26 EST

Jonathan Robie wrote:

>>I think that people can sense the rhetorical force of chiastic structure
without knowing the name, and without knowing Greek. Try this one, for
"When God gives us a life that defies explanation, we seek answers;
answers are not found in explanations, but in the life that is given
by God."<<

What an awesome example! Thanks Jonathan.

The focus that has me hooked here is the role of chiastic thinking in
non-literate people, and the syntactical implications for written
language that addresses and is written by these folks... Plus the
whole issue of the logical structuring of that thinking and its
resultant written expression.

Yes, it is rhetorical, but the force of rhetoric is first of all ease
of assimilation of ideas, and their retention, in an oral setting.

I have this feeling that the chiasm is a/the defining thought
structure of the Greek language, that units of thought are
chiastically structured, and indeed that compositions, letters,
gospels, hymns, poetry and plays all carry this same structuring,
which we refer to as 'bookending' and 'hinging' and 'mirror imaging'
of ideas in the development of the text.

Many of us read Xenophon's Anabasis in 2nd term Greek, with the
physical chiasm of the Greeks' entry into Persia, the death of their
'employer' [hO BASILEUS] in battle, with their resultant hopelessness,
and the 'hinge' event of reconsideration that then enabled them to
depart Persia and return home. This whole story is a chiasm. They
went in, they turned around, they came out.

The hinge is the turning point, you see... The crossing of the chi...

And the question that has my ears perked is this: Can the chiasm be
used to understand syntax? Should we look to the cross of the
chi[asm] for the grammatical center of a Greek sentence and then work
our way outward from it to understand its meaning?

I want to think so. And I am not smart and learned enough to pose the
issues properly.

> Hope this is as interesting to you as it was to me. (Hint: that's a chiasm,
> folks!)

Easily!! The 'low end' chiasm is the rhyme ~ 'If it doesn't fit, you
must acquit' variety ~ The 'high end' is found in your example, or
even better in John 1:1-2, where the center of the chiasm moves
foreward into the next thought. [the famous 'left over' QEOS]


Lisa Messmer..................ICQ# 5666415
George Blaisdell

Have you seen Dulcie? Look for her Heart!

Last Chance for Animals...Fight Pet Theft!

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