Friday, December 23, 2016 8:22 AM
After a long break from publishing to this site, this new entry is particularly appropriate to the season and a new beginning. In the Orthodox church, today is the Forefeast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, ...“born now to raise the image that had fallen aforetime,” as the hymn says. Thus, as we celebrate the coming of Christ in the flesh, we are celebrating not just a teaching, but also our Lord Jesus Christ himself, who is so near and dear to us and to the apostolic author of 2John, the Elder (John).
chiasmusxchange.com has an alternative structure for 2John. The outline above differs, in one respect, in that there seems to be dual and parallel “B” terms that interrupt an otherwise conventional chiastic structure. Also, although vs 5 is the center in both versions, the center-most part outlined above divides neatly into two terms. Yet, note that the syntax prevents the thought structure from being divided so neatly. Instead, the complete thought seems to encompass both sides of the central section (as outlined above, from vs 4-6).
There are many other structural observations that will repay study of the outline above.
Here are some other, non-structural notes:
1. Love is only expressed in the context of truth (vv. 1–5).
• Love is conditioned by and expressed in the context of truth - since truth is the foundation of love (vv. 1–2).
Truth and love are personal and important - since grace, mercy and peace come to us in the context of truth and love from the Father and Son, who are associated as the one source of divine grace (v 3).
2. Truth and love are commanded, independently, by the Father and Son (v 4-5).
• The Father commanded we walk in the truth (v. 4).
Christ commanded that we love one another (v. 5).
3. Fulfilling the command to love must include walking in the truth (vv. 6–13).
• Love means walking according to God’s commands including the command to walk in truth (v. 6).
• Deceivers deny the truth of Jesus, the Christ, being Incarnate (v. 7). Thus, deceivers have no part in Christ or in God the Father either. Those who walk in the truth are one with both the Father and the Son and will be rewarded (vv. 8-9).
Love, even in the form of a greeting, is not to be extended to deceivers, yet expressions of love are a joy among those who abide in the truth (vv. 10-12).
Finally, the structure of v. 5-6 may seem a bit different from what might be expected:
A B B a b b A a
However, note that these dual structures still maintain a certain parallel symmetry with one another (with the last unit of each structure detached from its fellow terms). Though there is a history of variants relating to vs 6b, none of them witness to a form (possibly a transposition of terms) consistent with what might be considered a more “ideal” chiastic structure. I am satisfied that even if such a witness were discovered, it would not convince text critics of its legitimacy based solely on structure.
Also, I think the Elder himself might be dissatisfied with any such form since it would lack the creative use of parallel symmetry that we should instead admire in the existing text. After all, it seems an interesting coincidence that the Elder’s artistic use of such strange, yet parallel symmetry - the dual structures working so well with one another - occurs in this very context, where he is encouraging the reader to similarly work together in the same way - and thus fulfill the command to ”love one another.”