Relevant Books

In my zeal to learn more about chiasms in the Bible, I have read many of the books about this fascinating topic. My study of the Bible has been substantially enhanced since I learned the secrets of the chiastic structure. My hope in presenting these books is to bring the understanding of this literary structure to a wider range of people.

Literary Structure of the Old Testament Literary Structure of the Old Testament, A Commentary on Genesis-Malachi
David A. Dorsey, 330 pages, 2004
New: between $30 and $40
In my opinion, this is the best overview exploration of the chiastic structure for the Old Testament. This excellent analysis identifies more than 250 chiasms, averaging seven per OT book. This thoroughly researched classroom textbook provides brief descriptions about the structure of each chiasmus. Dorsey often selects those chiastic structures with seven levels. See book on Amazon in another window

Joshua's Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Chiasms of Joshua Joshua's Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Chiasms of Joshua
Thomas B. Clarke, 232 pages, 2008
New: normally $15.95
This is my book, an in-depth study of the book of Joshua that develops its sixty-seven chiasms. By combining the chiastic approach with other literary devices, I reveal how the center point emphasis helps discern why Joshua was victorious. As author and pastor Fred Hofeldt stated, "This book is most intriguing to read, as it unravels a spiritually deeper understanding into God's Word." You might consider purchasing my book and Dorsey's Old Testament overview which identifies eight chiasms from the book of Joshua. See book on Amazon in another window

The Shape of Biblical Language The Shape of Biblical Language: Chiasmus in the Scriptures and Beyond
John Breck, 338 pages, 1994 and 2008
Currently not in print; used copies are sometimes available at a reasonable price
What Dorsey's book is for the Old Testament, Breck's Shape of Biblical Language is for the New Testament. Hundreds of chiasms are presented and are well explained – as a reference work, it is well written and easily understood. You will be surprised how many chiasms appear in the New Testament. Some chiasms are presented without explanation. Despite this book being out of print, I recommend purchasing a copy if the price drops to reasonable levels. See book on Amazon in another window

Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative
Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative
Jerome T. Walsh, 205 pages, 2001
New: between $15 and $20
Did you know there are other literary devices besides the chiasmus in the Bible? While the chiasm is the best known and potentially the most useful for understanding the emphasis, some of the other devices have their use as well such as forward symmetry, alternating repetition, and asymmetry. Focusing on the Old Testament, this enlightened book starts with 34 well-written pages about chiasms. Walsh's purpose is to develop the reader’s eye for increased Biblical understanding. I gave it a 5-star rating on Amazon. See book on Amazon in another window

Chiasmus in the New Testament Chiasmus in the New Testament: A Study in the Form and Function of Chiastic Structures
Nils W. Lund, 428 pages, 1992 (originally 1942)
Currently not in print; used copies are sometimes available at a reasonable price
Classic book by Nils Lund on the presence of chiastic structure, originally printed in 1942. Lund is credited with popularizing the chiasmus in the USA. No longer in print. Lund has received criticism for some of his analysis – much work has been done since 1942 but it is still valuable. See book on Amazon in another window

Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes - Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians
Kenneth E. Bailey, 560 pages, 2011
Original price around $35, sometimes substantially discounted Don't be disceived by the title of this book—it is primarily about the literary structure of I Corinthians. Very thorough with many references back to the book of Isaiah. See book on Amazon in another window

Seven Pauline Letters Seven Pauline Letters
Peter F. Ellis, 300 pages, 1982
New: between $25 to $30; used books are often priced reasonably
Ellis presents his look at the A–B–A’ form of chiastic structure found in these seven books: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. His analysis attempts to show how oftentimes the A and A’ levels are related yet interrupted by the B verses. Intended for serious students of the Pauline letters. See book on Amazon in another window

Becoming Children of God Becoming Children of God: John's Gospel and Radical Discipleship
Wes Howard-Brook, 510 pages, 1994
Currently not in print; used copies are often available for less than $10
Written from a Catholic perspective that attempts to motivate the reader into radical discipleship. It a thorough analysis of many of the chiasms in the book of John. I found the analysis to be less than convincing in some cases but otherwise an intriguing book. I never thought the Introduction was going to end! See book on Amazon in another window

Chiasmus in Antiquity Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis
John W. Welch, 353 pages, 1998
New: between $15 and $25
I hesitate to include this book – unless you are a Latter Day Saint, I recommend you look elsewhere. Professor John Welch is a Mormon that edited a collection of works about Christian and non-Christian uses of the chiastic structure including the Book of Mormon. One of the conclusions is that because both the Bible and the Book of Mormon have the chiastic structure, then this gives validity to Joseph Smith's writings. See book on Amazon in another window

Other books about chiasms

I have not reviewed any of the following – they are listed for completeness. If you know of another book about this topic, please email me using Tom@ThomasBClarke.com.

Victor Wilson, Divine Symmetries: The Art of Biblical Rhetoric 366 pages, 1997
Currently not in print; used copies are seldom available at a reasonable price   See book on Amazon in another window

Peter F. Ellis, The Genius of John: A Composition-Critical Commentary on the Fourth Gospel 360 pages, 1984
Currently not in print; used copies are sometimes available at a reasonable price   See book on Amazon in another window

Paul S. Jeon, To Exhort and Reprove: Audience Response to the Chiastic Structures of Pauls Letter to Titus 146 pages, 2012
New: available for $15 to $20   See book on Amazon in another window

Robert S. Reid, Preaching Mark 199 pages, 1999
Currently not in print; used copies are sometimes available for $15 to $25   See book on Amazon in another window