Why Study Chiasms? How to Discover Chiasms
Finding Chiastic Structures in the Bible

by Thomas B. Clarke

Chiasm for Joshua 1:5-9

Tom Clarke
Thomas B. Clarke
Author of Joshua's Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Chiasms of Joshua

The Effort is Worth It
Discovering sandwich-shaped chiasms in the Bible may be loosely described as an adventurous search for something hidden. (See my articles under What is a Chiasm (or Chiasmus)? if you are already confused.) Suddenly the hidden beauty within God's Word comes alive with deeper meaning.

While I truly enjoy finding chiasms in the Scriptures (or chiasmus or inverted parallelism if you prefer), be assured that some chiasms are more easily uncovered than others. This series of articles is intended to help you with that effort.

By following these hints, you should improve your personal discovery process. The effort may be challenging at times but the result should far outweigh the work.

Take Heart
The fundamental thought process that is used to discover a chiastic structure is pattern recognition – identifying where themes are repeated in a passage. In that respect, it is somewhat similar to Word Search puzzles or number games such as Sudoku. Unlike those secular games, the search for chiastic structures uses the Bible instead.

I find some chiasms are uncovered in a matter of minutes and some are more challenging. As I went through the book of Joshua, chapter 6 was very challenging to me as was the second part of chapter 24. I could see great amounts of repetition in these passages – by persevering, I found them. If you are not finding the chiastic structure right away, hang in there; the reward normally outweighs the effort.

You should find that many times the chiasms will be revealed to you, like turning on a light in a darkened room. Those "Ah Ha" moments are the most fun to me and they leave the most lasting impressions. The Holy Spirit, when ready to give fresh manna, is the provider. Being relaxed and in the proper environment, I suspect, is more important to hearing and discerning the word of God than anything else.

Included in this website are ten hints to help you discover chiastic structures more easily: First Five Hints and Five More Hints. There are also a number of Structure Variation Hints for other thematic repetitions such as ABCA′B′C′ – understanding these should improve your discovery process. And finally there are other Resources which may also augment your recognition process.

My book, Joshua's Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Chiasms of Joshua, supplements this discovery process by revealing 67 chiasms in the book of Joshua. Joshua's Spiritual Warfare is a 'most intriguing reading' that demonstrates how a chiastic understanding uncovers a fresh depth and revelation of the Scripture. See Book on Amazon ($14.99) .