Friday, August 6, 2021

A Fun Little Chiasm in Rom. 13:10

Woke up to an awful day. No one is having any fun. There's not a cloud in the sky, a cool breeze is blowing, the temp is around 75, and I'm all caught up on my chores. Oh well. We'll manage.

In my Bible reading this morning I camped out in Romans 12-13 and Paul's teaching on love. Then I opened this book. 


I actually just got it the other day. I had always wanted to have my own copy of this classic treatment of love. In fact, when I read this book way back in 1980 in Basel, it helped set me on a Pauline trajectory in my doctoral studies -- that, along with the book Paul's Anthropological Terms by Robert Jewett. 

I still cannot quite fathom just how beautifully and wonderfully made God's word is. Here's just a teeny tiny little itsy bitsy example. Notice Rom. 13:10 in the Greek. 


See it? The gorgeous, drop-dead chiasm? What, are you blind? Frankly, I hadn't noticed it either before today. Here's what tipped me off (read the sentence that follows the highlighted one):


MAN THAT IS GOOD. Read it again. "Book ends," we might call it. Thank you brother Furnish for furnishing us with that awesome observation. 

Y'all don't remember this, but way back in the 1970s a scholar named Samuel Sandmel published an essay in JBL called "Parallelomania" in which he took to task his peers who were calling Jesus, John the Baptizer, and Paul "Essenes" simply because they could find linguistic parallels between the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls. I've sometimes quipped to my students that today someone could easily write an essay called "Chiasmomania in New Testament Studies" in light of all the complex chiastic structures we scholars seem to find hidden under every rock in the New Testament. However, I doubt that Rom. 13:10 would qualify for inclusion in that essay. The verse is simply another reminder that the rhetorical devices we find in the New Testament are there for a reason -- which is precisely why we will be spending beaucoup time in our Advanced Greek Grammar class this semester delving into alliteration, assonance, paronomasia, homoioteleuton, hook words, etc.