The Conventions of Biblical Poetry

A brief introduction to the devices and characteristics of in this biblical genre.

Print this page Print this page

B  O one whom my soul loves,                                                      

C Where will you feed your flock;                                   

   Where will you have us recline at noon?                   

D For why should I be like one who goes astray    

E Beside the droves of your comrades?                           

A' If you don't know, you,                                                           

B' O fairest of women,                                                 

C' Get yourself out at the heels of the flock;              

   And shepherd your nanny-kids...                                   

   (There is a verset missing here)                            

E' Beside the tents of those companions!         (Song of Songs 1:7-8)

6. Chiastic patterning of lines, stanzas, poems, sections, or an entire work. When a passage is organized as a chiasm, elements in the second half correspond to those in the first half, but in reverse order (a, b, c; c', b', a'). A chiasm is a rhetorical device that sets up comparisons and contrasts. An unpaired element in the middle indicates what is central, as shown below:

A For behold, the winter has passed over,

  The rain gone by and departed,

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Jennifer T. Parkhurst received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently enrolled as a graduate student in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.