A Terrible Marvel


or Typology: Deadly Weapon or game of Scattergories?

“Chiastic literary analysis has completely destroyed liberal literary criticism. Liberalism is in tatters, bleeding and dying. Liberalism cannot survive Dorsey’s chiastic proof of the total unity of Isaiah, for instance. Dorsey finds loads of 7-fold chiasms in the Bible. I’ve found scores more, quite independently. What Dorsey does not see is that these are recaps of the chiasm of the 7 days in Genesis 1. And that’s good, because it means he did not go through the Bible forcing passages into heptamerous chiasms. He just found them there, and others can see that these track Genesis 1 as ‘new creation’ passages.”

—James B. Jordan, A Reply on the Nature of the Psalter, Biblical Horizons blog, biblicalhorizons.wordpress.com, referring to David A. Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament.

If chiastic literary analysis (along with typology as I posted recently) is such a powerful weapon against a modernist interpretation of the Bible, why are these methods of study shunned by those who oppose liberal theology? Why are theologians hauled over the coals for using it if it leaves the enemy in shreds?

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4 Responses to “A Terrible Marvel”

  • Paul Huxley Says:

    I don’t get why people are suspicious of what I’d call ‘symbolic’ interpretation of scripture.

    Take Psalm 1. The normal conundrum would make you choose between:

    a) A nice short Psalm contrasting a righteous lifestyle (moralism)

    b) Only one man is consistently like this whose name is Jesus (straightforward typology).

    The thing that Jordan (et al) notice is that you really don’t have to choose. The themes of men and trees bearing fruit, planted by streams of water and so on are so prominent and connected throughout the Bible that you can’t separate a) from b).

    John Frame showed me that all of systematics is interconnected (multiperspectivalism). Jordan et al showed me that all of Biblical history/symbolism is connected and structured.

    I just read your ‘about me’ section on the right. I’m pleased to say that I’m a trained musician.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Paul. Very true.

    I just added a phrase to this post. I hereby register the trademark Systematic Typology.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hey – nice to hear from a pom, too. And a musical one.

  • Dorothy Says:

    Systematic Typology – I love it. lol

    I have contended for years that man is a creature of habit. We get up every morning and follow the same routine, day in and day out. Our lives are patterns.

    Imho, God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us patterns to find our way. Typology defines those patterns and I find them quite comforting because I do believe they confirm we are on the straight and narrow.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on the book. :)