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A particularly helpful resource on the structure of Isaiah is the pdf found here by Dr. Ken Bailey.  In this article he lays out the structure of each pericope in Isaiah 40-66 including what he calls high-jumps and other chiasms.  In his book on First Corinthians (Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians) he also lays out the similar structures found in earlier parts of Isaiah.  Below are some examples of patterns to note when reading through Bailey’s article.

 

High-Jump Format

Isaiah includes a number of variations on the familiar chiasm.  Note the numbering of the cameos (as Ken Bailey calls them) so that you can see that the number seven is often significant.  The high jump format often consists of something like two introductory cameos followed by a chiasm of cameos.  Isaiah 40:27-31 is an example.  As the chiasm rises we are talking about God (God does not grow weary, God gives power) and in the parallel part we are talking about believing people (believers do not tire, believers renew their strength).

In this high-jump format it is very common, as with this example, for the beginning, center and end cameos to be tied together.  In this example, the words “faint” and “weary” accomplish the connection.  Parables like that of the eagle are also common. 

Interlocking Chiasms

Isaiah 43:14-24 shows us four interlocking chiasms.  The theme from one chiasm is carried on into the next.  Note that with a really well done chiasm you would not notice as a reader if the portion in the middle were missing.  In other words, you could read from 1 to 4 without 2 and 3 and not know that 2 and 3 were missing.  With some chiasms that are less clear than these you will be able to see the connection not because two parts are parallel but because they read seamlessly.    

Other Variations

And you will sometimes see straight line cameos after a chiasm or at the climax of a chiasm.

Sometimes you will see an A, B, A’, B’, then chiasm pattern (i.e. Isaiah 45:20-25).

There really is no end to the different variations on the patterns involving chiasms.

(To be sure, you will sometimes see other patterns like the alternating structure of A,B,C,D,A’,B’,C’D’ (i.e. Isaiah 47:8-15)).

The prophetic books, not least among them Isaiah, are very artistic in structure.  Seeing these patterns is very helpful because it will help you to see the main point of the texts.

Now to look back at Isaiah for some variations on the familiar chiasm.  Note the numbering of the cameos (as they are now being called) so that you can see that the number seven is often significant.  The high jump format often consists of something like two introductory cameos followed by a chiasm of cameos.  Isaiah 40:27-31 is an example.  As the chiasm rises we are talking about God (God does not grow weary, God gives power) and in the parallel part we are talking about believing people (believers do not tire, believers renew their strength).
High Jump Format
In this format it is very common, as with this example, for the beginning, center and end cameos to be tied together.  In this example, the words “faint” and “weary” accomplish the connection.  Parables like that of the eagle are also common.
Interlocking Chiasms
Isaiah 43:14-24 shows us four interlocking chiasms.  The theme from one chiasm is carried on into the next.  Note that with a really well done chiasm you would not notice as a reader if the portion in the middle were missing.  In other words, you could read from 1 to 4 without 2 and 3 and not know that 2 and 3 were missing.  With some chiasms that are less clear than these you will be able to see the connection not because two parts are parallel but because they read seamlessly.
Other Variations
And you will sometimes see straight line cameos after a chiasm or at the climax of a chiasm.
Sometimes you will see an A, B, A’, B’, then chiasm pattern (i.e. Isaiah 45:20-25).
There really is no end to the different variations on the patterns involving chiasms.
(To be sure, you will sometimes see other patterns like A,B,C,D,A’,B’,C’D’ (i.e. Isaiah 47:8-15))..  Note the numbering of the cameos (as they are now being called) so that you can see that the number seven is often significant.  The high jump format often consists of something like two introductory cameos followed by a chiasm of cameos.  Isaiah 40:27-31 is an example.  As the chiasm rises we are talking about God (God does not grow weary, God gives power) and in the parallel part we are talking about believing people (believers do not tire, believers renew their strength).High Jump FormatIn this format it is very common, as with this example, for the beginning, center and end cameos to be tied together.  In this example, the words “faint” and “weary” accomplish the connection.  Parables like that of the eagle are also common. Interlocking ChiasmsIsaiah 43:14-24 shows us four interlocking chiasms.  The theme from one chiasm is carried on into the next.  Note that with a really well done chiasm you would not notice as a reader if the portion in the middle were missing.  In other words, you could read from 1 to 4 without 2 and 3 and not know that 2 and 3 were missing.  With some chiasms that are less clear than these you will be able to see the connection not because two parts are parallel but because they read seamlessly.    Other VariationsAnd you will sometimes see straight line cameos after a chiasm or at the climax of a chiasm.

 

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