INVERTED QUOTATIONS AND HANDSHAKES

Try matching your two hands together. If you place one on top of the other, the thumb and fingers of one hand will be in the opposite order to those of the other. Now place the two hands together so that the palms touch. The thumb and fingers match, but the hands are facing opposite directions. Then turn the two hands so that they are both facing away from you. There is now a ‘chiasm’ with the thumbs in the middle and the little fingers ‘first and last’ respectively.

Now place your right hand in front of a mirror. You can match the thumb and fingers together with the reflection, but the hand in the mirror is facing the other way. It is as though you are facing somebody and matching your right hand with their left hand.* This principle is seen in Genesis 48:13 when Joseph tries to ensure that Jacob’s left hand was placed on Ephraim and his right hand on Manasseh. This leads to a chiasm in the text:

A. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his RIGHT hand

B. toward Israel’s LEFT hand,

B′. and Manasseh in his LEFT hand

A′. toward Israel’s RIGHT hand, and brought them near unto him.

When doing the daily readings on 10/1/17 and reading about the angels taking the hands of Lot and his family (Genesis 19:16) it occurred to me that the linking of hands may be a way of describing inverted quotations. When a person takes somebody’s hand, if he uses, say, his right hand then he will usually hold the left hand of the other person. The thumbs and fingers will match but the two hands are facing opposite directions. If two people shake hands they will both use the same hand, for example, “the right hands of fellowship” (Gal. 2:9), but not only are the palms of the two hands facing opposite directions, so are the directions in which the hand and arm are pointing.

The above leads to the following suggestion for helping us describe inverted quotations:

When a quotation inverts the original text it is like a handshake. Just as the hands point in different directions so sections of the passage are in opposite order. The passage is ‘linking hands’ with the other passage.

Can the hand be used to represent part of Scripture? There are some passages which potentially support this view. Christ is described as the Word “made flesh” (Jno. 1:14) and the addition of new revelations in the first century is described as a body becoming complete: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). The hand is often invoked when a revelation is given, for example, “…according to the word of Yahweh by the hand of Moses” (Num. 4:45).

We often say that ‘this passage links with that passage’. Given that God is the Author of the Word these links are not just cold facts, they are infused with the warmth of a handshake.

* The inability to match an object with its reflection is known as chirality, which comes from the Greek for ‘hand’.

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