The Companion Bible – How Useful?

One response I have heard more than once to my enthusiasm for chiasmus is that Bullinger in the The Companion Bible has already sorted it. I fear this response is based on a lack of familiarity with the detail of the Companion Bible.

To test out the hypothesis we have carried out a simple experiment – six of us have suggested 41 chiasms we feel are very convincing and then I have checked with the Companion Bible. (By the way the online version does not give the chiastic structures that appear in the print version I have).

the results are

No equivalent chiasm — 16 cases
a different structure – 16 cases
Similar structure – 4 cases
the same structure – 5 cases [Genesis 3, Psa 67, Matt 2, Luke 1, 1 Cor 11].

In summary: 22% of the chiasms we suggested – blind to Bullinger – were the same or similar as in the Companion Bible. In 40% of cases there was no equivalent.

My conclusion:

1. Bullinger made a remarkable effort and the Companion Bible is worth looking at but only if you have spare time.
2. Those who are saying that Bullinger has done it all are wrong and should be challenged because it potentially blocks personal research.

Test Bullinger

2 thoughts on “The Companion Bible – How Useful?”

  1. One writer (Edward Whittaker, in the Testimony Magazine, Jan 1975) commented

    “Bullinger in his Companion Bible has established beyond doubt that numerous passages of Scripture can be more clearly understood once their place in the literary structure of the context is recognised. He carried his method to bewildering excess, however, by artificially dissecting even the historical narratives. Obviously, by reason of its irregular continuity, history cannot be confined within the devices of literary framework. But literary structure is certainly an important factor in the sound interpretation of prophecy”.

    Whilst many have agreed that Bullinger over does it, I personally think that the criticism is unfounded and the charge of “bewildering excess” may reflect a lack of appreciation of the frequency of introverted Hebrew parallelism in scripture, especially since some of the very best and most clearcut examples occur in historical narratives.

  2. I respect Bullinger as I surely do Lund. Too often later generations forget about the titanic intellectual leaps that are necessary for those who discover entire fields or avenues within a field. Another example: there are physicists today who understand relativity far better than Einstein ever did, but without Einstein that same modern physicist would know nothing of relativity. That’s just my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.