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Jun 7th, 2012
#134202 - 03/04/02 01:00 PM
Re: The phenomenon of parallelism in the Gospel of Luke
Joined: Jan 2002
Joined: Jan 2002
Thank you for your response. You are truly a woman of God who sees the value of the Scriptures.
I remember praying the Magnificat and Canticle of Zechariah at the seminary with my Latin brothers. T'was beautiful when they did it in Gregorian Chant. In the Byzantine Church, these two serve as the Ninth Ode (or Canticle) during the Canon at Matins.
The use of parallelism between sections of Scripture (as in the case of Luke's first chapter) doesn't stop there. I would like to reflect on the genius of Luke – and the other Evangelists – in their writing of the Gospels. The complexity and depth of their words has been fuel for proclamation, prayer, personal reflection and study for centuries. When we detect “parallels” between sections of text, it should stop us and make us think. Why would Luke use such a literary device in his accounts of the conceptions of John the Baptist and Jesus? How does the presence of these biblical structures aid us in doing a better interpretation of Luke 1?
Let me throw in another observation. How do the narratives of John and Jesus share similarities with the sons of Abraham, Esau and Jacob? What was so unique about Sarah and her having a child? What was similar between the selling of the birthright between Esau and Jacob and Jesus becoming greater than John when John was the original one on the scene? The parallels between the New Testament and the Old Testament are usually called “correspondences.” What would be the NT author's intention when using a biblical passage from another event? How would the correspondence between the OT event help endorse or shed understanding on the NT event?
Aside from the parallels and the correspondences, there are those “chiasms.” This was a popular literary device used by the Hebrew authors. It's very Jewish. Please refer to my thread on chiasms for some explanation. Luke's Annunciation scene with Zechariah is a case in point. Found below is my analysis of Luke 1:6-25. Like all chiasms, one only has to match up A with A' to see similar content and even choice of words. In A, Elizabeth and Zechariah were considered “righteous before God,” in A' Elizabeth's “reproach among men” was taken away be God. In B, Elizabeth was “barren,” in B' she conceived (the undoing of B). In E and E' the people are outside praying at waiting for Zechariah while he was in the Temple. Verses 15 and 16 become the X, or crossover point, of the whole passage. It tells us the main focal point. Since there is no single X-verse, we can expand the focal point to include the verses 14 thru 17.
What is the "focal point' of this passage if we consider the help of the chiastic structure? From a purely literary approach, Luke 1:14-15 tells us of the joy and gladness from a son who will be born (John); behind 16-17 is him turning people to God and making them prepared for the Lord. Isn't this the theme or main point behind this biblical passage? Isn't the miraculous event of Elizabeth's conception and Zechariah's visitation serve as a frame around the points made in vv. 14-17? Behind all of this are echoes of Abraham & Sarah and their sons, Esau & Jacob.
Luke 1:6-10 (Elizabeth and Zechariah)
A 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
B7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
C8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
D9 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
E10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
Luke 1:11-13 (Zechariah and Gabriel)
11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechari'ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
Luke 1:14-17 (John the Baptist and the Spirit of God)
I14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth;
J'15 for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.
J'16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
I17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli'jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
Luke 1:18-20 (Zechariah and Gabriel)
18 And Zechari'ah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."
Luke 1:21-25 (Elizabeth and Zechariah)
E'21 And the people were waiting for Zechari'ah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple.
D'22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb.
C'23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
B'24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying,
A'25 "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
Isaiah 14 presents us with another chiasm. Some Bible versions do not indent the poetry part of a biblical passage, thus making it more difficult to detect when an author is being poetic or using poetic literary structures.
A The Lord shall give Jacob relief from bondage (Isa 14:1-2)
…B The Lord gives relief (Isa 14:3-4)
……C The rod of the wicked is broken (Isa 14:5-6)
………D The land is at peace (Isa 14:7-8)
…………E The grave meets them (Isa 14:9-12)
……………F YOU SAY I WILL ASCEND TO HEAVEN (Isa 14:13-15)
…………E' Cast out of your tomb (Isa 14:15-25)
………D' Burdens removed from their shoulders (Isa 14:26-28)
……C' The rod is broken (Isa 14:29)
…B' Lie down in safety (Isa 14:30)
A' Afflicted people find refuge (Isai 14:32)
Unfortunately, today's Isaiah reading is only 14:24-32. The one's who decided the lections only give us the second half of the chiasm from Isaiah 14, thus omitting the crossover point of the whole chapter, Isaiah 14:13-14 (NASB), which reads:
A "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven;
..B I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
….C And I will sit on the mount of assembly
….C' In the recesses of the north.
..B' 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
A' I will make myself like the Most High.'
What exactly is the focal point or message Isaiah is saying here? It is the kernel of the “taunt” to be made to the King of Babylon (cf. Isa 14:4), but we are told something about someone sitting “… on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.” What does this mean?
What does the point made in this chapter relate to the first up-leg passage (Isa 14:1-12) and the down-leg passage (14:15-32)? Why would the Byzantine lectionary for today's reading only be interested in the down-leg of the chiasm?
There is one more part of Isa 14, which is very important, and it is verse 12:
A How you have fallen from heaven,
…B O star of the morning,
…B' son of the dawn!
A' You have been cut down to the earth …
Who is this “morning star?”
ntor Joe Thur