Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chiams, chiasms everywhere

Many thanks to Iyov for the pointer to some articles recently made available as scanned documents. I found one on Psalm 11 - nice outline of global structure which I have shown with my usual colourful arrows. But then extending the analysis, Pierre Auffret outlines a chiasm in every verse. I think that is overkill.

Look at verse 1. Is there a mockery implied of God on his holy hill and the psalmist's refuge in 'flee to your mountain, bird!' Flee = refuge, mountain = Zion as metoynm for God. Maybe.

But verse 2 also? between the wicked and the upright? No - this is the subject of the psalm, not a chiasm. And the apparent synonyms upright and righteous are a subtle recognition that none passes the test. If you stare at the diagram, you will see 5 keywords in the first half and each of them spreads to one or multiple repetitions in the second half.

As in Psalm 1, the contrast is between the the life (נַפְשׁוֹ) of the wicked (v5) and the life (לְנַפְשִׁי) of the one who takes refuge (v1). The the wicked of verse 2 and the righteous of verse 3 are both expanded in the second half - righteous occurring 3 times and wicked twice (surrounded by righteous). The upright (v2 and 7) also mark a repetition - but not, I think, as 'stereotypical' synonyms of righteous. It appears that the wicked is aiming darts at the upright - but without warning, the 'righteous' appears in v3 and takes the place of the upright, who does not appear again till v7.

My one word summary for this psalm was 'test'. How true I expect it is that the lover of violence hates his life. What cost is there to effect uprightness for such hate? How would foundations be destroyed (v3 - the centre)? Did the righteous one of whom it is said that the LORD tests and loves, submit to the test in order that those who flee for refuge might become upright and that those who hate their lives might learn to love their lives and flee for refuge?

So much work for fire and pitch.

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