Chiasm and the Concept of Faith in Hebrews 11 -- By: Victor (Sung-Yul) Rhee
BSac 155:618 (Apr 98) p. 327
Chiasm and the Concept
of Faith in Hebrews 11
Victor (Sung Yul) Rhee is Assistant Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California.
In his book Der Glaube im Hebräerbrief Erich Grässer argues that in Hebrews faith is not directed to Christ in any way.1 Grässer believes that faith in Hebrews is seen ethically, as steadfastness only, and not soteriologically.2 However, a careful exegesis of Hebrews 11 shows that faith in this epistle is as Christologically oriented (i.e., it has Christ as the object of faith) as it is in the Pauline Epistles, even though it is not expressed in terms of “faith in Christ.” The chiastic structure of Hebrews 11 supports this contention.
General Discussion of Chiasm
Many biblical scholars have come to recognize the presence and importance of chiastic structures in the interpretation of certain passages in the Bible.3 This seems to be especially true of the Book of Hebrews. The term “chiasm” derives from the verb χιάζω, which means “to mark with two lines crossing like a χ (chi).”4 The term χιασμός denotes
BSac 155:618 (Apr 98) p. 328
a “placing crosswise, diagonal arrangement, especially of the clauses of a period, so that the first corresponds with the fourth, and the second with the third.”5 This term is used “in rhetoric to designate an inversion of the order of words or phrases which are repeated or subsequently referred to in the sentence.”6
A survey of the literature on chiasm indicates, however, that use of the word “chiasm” is not limited to the parallelism of words or phrases; it is also used to refer to an inversion of ideas or concepts in a broad sense. Understanding “chiasm” in this sense, many scholars in recent years claim they have found chiasms in many parts of the Bible. For example Blomberg believes that 2 Corinthians 1:12–7:16 is written chiastically at the conceptual level,7 and McClister says Matthew 17:22–20:19 is chiastically arranged.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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