The Chiasmatron 2000 Home Page
The Chiasmatron 2000 was designed for those who have a passion for exploring and presenting chiasmus and the other types of literary structures that are found throughout the biblical texts. This flexible web-based software utility generates interactive presentations for display in a web browser. Its use facilitates the processes of discovery and analysis.
Wave your mouse cursor over this simple example from the 45th chapter of Genesis and you'll see the matching elements highlighted for easy identification.
Many years ago, I was introduced to the Companion Bible with its many diagrams of thematic structures. I found the expressions of these structures to be very compelling as a means of gaining further insight. When it comes to understanding the meaning of a text, the value of context can hardly be overstated. To recognize the Author's beautifully symmetrical expression as His own guide to context is surely a fundamental, and wisdom dictates that we give it the respect it is due.
When I explored the patterns that appeared in the course of my studies, it wasn't very long before I became rather frustrated with my inability to render the expressions in a more useful way, to effectively convey what I was finding to be so intimately engaging. The traditional conventions of notation and indentation are adequate to a point, but as complexity and scale increase, so does the difficulty in representing the nested symmetrical structures and illustrating the nuanced meaning of the relationships. At the dawn of the Internet age, I was exposed to some interactive technologies and, as a software developer, was inspired to explore the possibilities for solutions.
The Chiasmatron 2000 began as an effort to more accurately represent and more simply illustrate the native patterns and relationships expressed in the biblical text. I discovered that the ability to compare matching elements is enhanced by highlighting them dynamically. Even multiple pairings can be quickly identified, and this interactive feature is a first step toward transcending the limitations of static presentation. By expanding the highlighting of companion elements to higher levels of structure, the ability to follow the natural symmetry is greatly enhanced, with the result being that deeper insights are more easily attained and conveyed. The interactive experience allows for an easier sense of relationships and a more immediate grasp of the context.
While the giving of attention to chiasmus and parallelism at the exclusion of other forms of analysis and interpretation is unwise, when these inherent patterns are given their place they are a source of supplemental insight that is welcome indeed! By design, the Chiasmatron 2000 is focused on structural analysis and presentation, and we think there's enough value in that to make it a worthwhile addition to the well rounded scholar or student's toolbox. Using the software enhances the analyst's ability to perceive the thematic relationships in expanded contexts and with higher levels of granularity, which we consider to be a significant benefit that someone who strives to excel in their work will quickly recognize and celebrate.
We know what a challenge it has been to promote this special branch of biblical study, to reach those who would find significant benefit from the service of the precious few who have recognized the great promise it holds. While it is painfully obvious that some scholars in the academic community strive to keep the work behind their own institutional firewalls, others are like us, who desire rather to share this awesome witness of the Author's Word and work, reaching out to inspire and bless others. By embracing the simple technological advance afforded by the ubiquitous web browser, we have a tremendous opportunity. While conventional static presentations certainly benefit from what this modern platform offers, for its broad accessibility, the way is opened to a fresh approach where users are involved and engaged through their interaction with the text.
Here's a very practical consideration of today's reality. This branch of study requires a level of concentration and a considerable attention span. This presents an obstacle that, for many, is significant and cannot be ignored. On being introduced to the concept of structure in the Bible, some are put off by the scholarly look of the peculiar notation and the use of strange words to describe the patterns. The more intuitive and engaging kind of presentation facilitated by the Chiasmatron 2000 is a step toward making chiasmus and parallelism more welcoming and accessible, reducing the barriers to reaching many of our brothers and sisters in Christ with this wonder of His precious Word.
A range of examples is offered on this site that exhibit some of the variety of presentations that may be produced. Patterns of chiasmus and parallelism are modeled in ways that illustrate both granularity of structure and flexibility in style. What you see on the left is an image of one of our larger and more complex projects, pictured in a monitor that is rotated into the “portrait” orientation for better display of the scale involved. On exhibit there are some of the more advanced presentation features, including a pop-up commentary window that is “context sensitive”.
As useful as the interactive presentations may be for others, the value is first for the one who is using the Chiasmatron 2000 to analyze the text, and it is in that effort where the greater benefit of this utility may be found!
Why the Chiasmatron 2000?
During the initial phase of development, when a satisfactory prototype of the interactive presentation was produced, it was immediately obvious that the only practical solution involved leveraging the power of a database driven application to generate the code required. Thus was born the Chiasmatron 2000! Since the first version, now over a dozen years ago, successive generations of development have brought this application to maturity as a robust and intuitive tool.
If your interest is in the field of discourse analysis and text linguistics that extends into thematic structures, a tool like the Chiasmatron 2000 has a lot to offer. Its utility for the analyst has become very much appreciated! We find that using the Chiasmatron 2000 helps us discern and analyze more complex relationships and patterns far more quickly and capably than with conventional tools and methods!
Flexibility in Language, Presentation Style, Scale, and Access
Flexible in Language: The Chiasmatron 2000 is useful for working with English translations, of course, but it has also been designed for use with the biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek. We have also produced some in Russian, utilizing that language's most popular Bible version.
Variety in Presentation Style: If your preference is to see the basic chiastic structures or forms of parallelism illustrated with the conventions of notation, indentation, coloring, or combinations of these techniques, you can choose to continue illustrating them in this way, with the added bonus of interactive highlighting. In your exploration of the inspiring possibilities, including where your commentary is actually synchronized with the passage, you may find that you prefer a more streamlined style of illustration. There are options in presentation style. Some forms of expression lend themselves better to the more simple and some to the more complex. We invite you to check out some of those presented on our example page, and to explore the links to some of the more robust presentations.
Flexibility in Scale: From the most simple to bodies of work spanning full chapters, even entire books, these can be produced and rendered with as much granularity as necessary to represent every nested level for presentation in a single view! The ability to model the natural patterns in their full range pays big dividends because, while many precious insights are exposed in their local contexts, others only reveal themselves through a more global consideration.
Accessible: It works on a PC or a Mac, using your typical web browser like Chrome or Firefox or IE or Safari. You can use Apple or Android tablets or mobile devices to view or conveniently edit your projects whenever the inspiration comes to you, wherever you go as long as you're online. While having plenty of screen real estate on hand certainly helps with the bigger projects, it's not essential.
Perhaps you have a deep appreciation for the aesthetic, for the beautifully symmetrical flow of what is sometimes referred to as, Hebrew Poetry. Perhaps your interest is more technical, or the Lord has been inspiring you to seek Him for insight more deeply than before. Do you pray as you seek to draw near the Author and find whether He might be pleased to share some special insight? The expression of His good pleasure in this endeavor is precious indeed! Becoming more adept at tracing the Author's lines of thought as they weave through the scriptures is a richly rewarding and deeply humbling experience. The occasional discoveries of completely surprising varieties in expression are experiences I treasure!
The Next Level and Beyond
If you've been diligently exploring chiasmus and parallelism with paper and pencil, text editor or word processor, the introduction of this software utility represents an opportunity to extend your productivity and reach, taking your work to the next level or beyond. As I use it for analysis, I frequently find myself exposed to new and profound windows of insight into the Author's expression of Himself and His awesome ways and means! Try it, give it a genuine effort, and you'll find that the use of this software really can facilitate the gleaning of much greater depth of insight into the holy scriptures. The ease of use invites the entry of new passages and also those with structure that has already been discovered. The ease of use helps you keep your train of thought, which is a huge bonus! It facilitates the exploration of alternate versions. It lends itself to encouraging further refinement into both the more granular and the more broad thematic relationships, to the expansion of what so much more readily appears in the context. Its use encourages the further development of the techniques that have served us well enough already and opens the way into the practical exploration of higher levels of complexity.
We hope and pray that this offering and invitation will inspire and challenge you to raise your own level of expectation and to exercise your gifts more fully, to our Lord's glory.