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Jesu, Juva

Chiasm and creation in John

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Hajime Murai has proposed a deep chiasm running the entire length of the book of John. I’ve been following along off and on in our church’s readings in John, and some of the parallels are striking; for example, John 4 paired with John 19, or Nicodemus questioning and later burying Jesus.

Murai includes the so-called pericope adulterae, John 7:53-8:11, in his outline. This is a disputed passage that almost certainly was not part of John’s original manuscript. However, I think that the chiastic parallels are actually stronger if this passage is omitted. Murai suggests that 7:53-8:11 parallels 10:1-21, and links the Pharisees’ lack of understanding. I suggest the following arrangement, starting with Murai’s pairing of living water with the raising of Lazarus:

    7:37-39 Living water
        7:40-44 Division and seeking to arrest
            7:45-52 The shepherds of Israel
                8:12-30 Light of the world
                    8:31-59 I AM
                9:1-41 A man born blind healed; the blindness of the Pharisees
            10:1-18 The great shepherd
        10:19-39 Division and seeking to arrest
    10:40-11:54 Crossing the Jordan and the healing of Lazarus

This serves as a small and secondary confirmation the disputed passage is not original to John.

The fact that the center of John involves a discussion of light and seeing and what is “above” is also striking, especially following a discussion of water. This suggests to me that Murai’s overall chiasm could be bracketed into seven sections that track the days of creation (central day four being the heavenly lights, following day three’s separation of land and waters).

Written by Scott Moonen

April 10, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Biblical Theology

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