Sunday, September 23, 2012

canonical bookends

The structure of the history of redemption forms a narrative chiasm.  This chiasm is further evidence of the completion of the Biblical canon.  Taken from Michael Kruger's Canon Revisited:

The seven days of creation are the archetypal foundation for all of Scripture, governing mankind’s own seven-day workweek, and demonstrating the sense of completeness and wholeness to God’s creative activity. The number seven is also foundational to the book of Revelation. Not only is the book itself divided into seven sections, but there are seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, seven plagues, and so on.  Thus, in effect, the first and last books of the canon form an inclusio of sevens, functioning as appropriate bookends to the overall sevenfold canonical structure—with Revelation as an appropriate “sabbath.”  The connections between Genesis and Revelation, and thus the existence of this macro inclusio, could be developed even further.  Genesis begins with the creation of the “heavens and earth” (1:1ff.); Revelation ends with re-creation and the new “heaven and earth” (21:1). Genesis begins with the theme of paradise in the garden (2:8ff.); Revelation ends with the paradise of heaven (21:4). Genesis begins with the theme of marriage (2:8); Revelation ends with the great wedding of the Lamb (21:9). Genesis begins with a focus on the serpent’s deception (3:1ff.); Revelation ends with the serpent’s destruction (20:10). Genesis begins with the curse being put upon the world (3:14ff.); Revelation ends with the curse being lifted (22:3). Genesis begins by describing the creation of day, night, and the oceans (1:3, 10, 14); Revelation ends with no more need for day (sun), or night, or oceans (21:1; 22:5). Genesis begins with the “tree of life” among the people of God (2:9); Revelation ends with the “tree of life” among the people of God (22:2). Genesis begins with God dwelling with his people (2:8; 3:8); Revelation ends with God finally dwelling with his people again (21:3).

The degree to which Genesis and Revelation provide appropriate canonical bookends is enhanced when it is recognized that they form the ends of a larger narrative chiasm centered upon Jerusalem. The narrative of the Old Testament canon clearly moves from the broad, overall creation in Genesis to a focus on a single city (Jerusalem) and a single person (the Davidic king) in the book of Chronicles. The New Testament narrative picks up where the Old left off—focused on the Davidic kingship returning to Jerusalem—but it does not stay in Jerusalem. Instead it begins to fan out into Samaria, Judea, and Asia Minor, and ultimately ends with a focus on all creation, Jews and Gentiles together (Acts 1:8; 8:4–5; Col. 1:23). Indeed, in the book of Revelation, the global focus is complete as we see people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9) joined together in God’s ultimate re-creation. This macro chiasm shows that the New Testament canon is the reverse structure of the Old Testament and thereby forms its proper conclusion.

From Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J. Kruger (Crossway, 2012)

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