Tuesday, December 7, 2010 7:15 AM

Chiasm in Isaiah

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 7:15 AM
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 7:15 AM

This is another wonderful example of the construction of our Bible. To see and understand this literary consruction go on to the Bible Study section on this site and see the PowerPoint entitled "The Wonderful Construction of Our Bible"

When Isaiah received this divinely inspired portrait of the Messiah’s career, he formatted it in a literary structure called a chiasmus or chiasm (i.e., inverted parallelism); in this kind of chiastic structure, the literary emphasis falls on the central member of the configuration (i.e., the “C” of Isa. 53:4–6 below):

A. The prologue of the song (an overview) God speaking (a proclamation): “I value my servant!” (Isa52:13–15)

The body of the song: the nation Israel speaking (a confession): “We utterly rejected the servant!” (Isa53:1–9)

     B. “We rejected him in his life!” (Isa53:1–3)

             C. A theological parenthesis (the ultimate reason for the rejection): “We thought he died for his own sins rather than our own!” (Isa53:4–6)

     B´. “We rejected him in his death!” (Isa53:7–9)

A´. The epilogue of the song (a final view) God speaking (a declaration): “My servant is victorious!” (Isa53:10–12)

A summary of Isaiah’s classic passage is as follows:

1.   In the prologue of the song (Isa52:13–15), the prophet Isaiah asserted (on behalf of God) that the Servant of the Lord would ultimately be highly exalted (v. 13), as well as honored among the Gentiles (v. 15), but only after dreadful personal suffering (v. 14).

2.   In the body of the song (Isa53:1–9), Isaiah confessed (on behalf of his own people) that (1) Israel utterly rejected the Servant of the Lord in his life (vv. 1–3), (2) as well as in his death (vv. 7–9), because (3) the nation misjudged the meaning of his death by assuming that he died for his own sins rather than for the nation’s (vv. 4–6).

3.   In the epilogue of the song (Isa53:10–12), the prophet asserted (on behalf of God) that by the Servant’s completed work of atonement, God would be exalted (v. 10), believers would be justified (v. 11), and the Servant himself would be honored (v. 12).[i]



[i] Geisler, N. L., & Hoffman, P. K. (2001). Why I am a Christian : Leading thinkers explain why they believe (210–211). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

« back