Do you have a cure for me?

Monday, June 30, 2008



I am now halfway through my exegesis on Psalm 19.

The reason why I picked Psalm 19 over Psalm 30 was because when I checked Terrien’s The Psalms, Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary, Psalm 30 has a chiastic structure to it while Psalm 19 does not. So thinking that I should lay low on chiasms and be “normal” for awhile working on a good ol’ ordinary unchiastically structured psalm, I proceeded on with Psalm 19.

If you are good with plots, you will know where my story is heading by now, because right in front of me this very moment is Psalm 19 staring at me as a perfectly structured chiasm.

What happened?

I was mulling through the psalm for the past several weeks, dissecting it, breaking it into possible stanzas and maybe several envois, highlighting parallels, linking up themes. Last night, I suddenly went, “Wait a minute ... I don’t believe it!” and there you are – no running away from chiasms for Pearlie. They stick to me like glue.

A Nature’s declaration (v.1)
   B Nature’s public display (v.2-4a)
      C Nature compared and was equated (v.4b-6)
         D The written Torah (v.7-9)
      C’ The Torah compared and it surpasses (v.10-11)
   B’ The psalmist private prayer (v.12-13)
A’ The psalmist’s declaration (v.14)

Do you have for me a cure?

pearlie
Photo © 2007 i o f o t o

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5 comment(s)

  1. yes, there is a cure. go and learn psalm types!!!

    chiastic patterns are determined more from themes that surface from within the text. sometimes, to 'create' a chiastic pattern, one has to 'force' a theme to surface when it does not or when it is not obvious. hence, trying to read chiastic patterns can involve some form of bias.

    i looked at your proposed chiastic structure and i have some doubts here and there about the pattern.

    try and study the psalm from its psalm type. psalm 19 is a wisdom psalm, no doubt. so it will have wisdom elements. apart from being a wisdom psalm, what else is it in terms of types? once you have identified the type, what are the standard form elements in that type? are these elements present in psalm 19? or are some missing? or are some repeated? etc.

    the key as i learn form my doctoral supervisor is simple: let the text lead you, and not what you want to read into the text.

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  2. haha ... i didn't expect this - thanks for the pointers!

    go and learn psalm types
    I was treating the psalm as both wisdom and torah and will be part of the exegesis as well.

    to 'create' a chiastic pattern, one has to 'force' a theme ...let the text lead you, and not what you want to read into the text
    yes, i hear you on this one, and i usually let the text lead - or at least I hope I do :) i was not even looking for a chiasm here let alone create one, since I had intended to steer clear away from it anyway.

    I was reading an article from the SBL site on the tendency of some people who "see" this kind of thing and I happen to be one of these weird people! So my conclusion is these 4 options:
    (1) it was intended by the author
    (2) it was a coincidence
    (3) it is inspiration
    (4) it was forced by the reader

    i have some doubts here and there about the pattern
    To give me some sense of perspective, can you please tell me what your doubts are?

    Thanks!

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  3. on the last point, one can see the elements B and B'

    B - nature's public display (vv. 2-4)
    B' the psalmist's private nature (vv. 12-13)

    i don't see the correspondence between public display and private nature (unless you are arguing about public and private but that is a different matter - more of antithetical parallelism). why should public display be parallel to private prayer?

    also, note that in chiastic patterns, as i mentioned earlier, sometimes the text is forced to create the reading. one good way is to to see the length of the verses in each element. sometimes, the length of the verses in the corresponding elements are so markedly different that this makes the chiastic pattern less possible.

    A Nature’s declaration (v.1)
    B Nature’s public display (v.2-4a)
    C Nature compared and was equated (v.4b-6)
    D The written Torah (v.7-9)
    C’ The Torah compared and it surpasses (v.10-11)
    B’ The psalmist private prayer (v.12-13)
    A’ The psalmist’s declaration (v.14)

    if D is the climax and is on the Torah, only C' still mentions the Torah but elements B' and A' switches over to the psalmist. this doesn't make much correspondence to me. just because you can create a nice chiastic pattern but the contents of the elements do not 'match' still doesn't count much.

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  4. Thanks again. I am still thinking about it :) In a sense I both agree and disagree... but it's ok, I won't lose sleep over it =)

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  5. Today I read something on an evaluation that someone left that made me think - You must believe in order to see. So yes, you must really believe in the chiasm :)

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