Bullinger on “Introverted Parallelism”

 (thanks to BobK) Adapted from


Bullinger, E. W. (1898). Figures of speech used in the Bible (p. 349). London; New York: Eyre & Spottiswoode; E. & J. B. Young & Co.

5. Repetition of Subjects 

Parallelism; or, Parallel Lines

This form of sacred writing has been noted from the earliest times. De Rossi, a learned Jew of the sixteenth century, first published a mass of information on the subject in a remarkable work, Meor Enajim (i.e., The Light of the Eyes)( Kitto. Bib. Cyc. III. 702.). Bishop Lowth (Lowth’s Translation of Isaiah, Prel. Dis. p. xxviii. (15th Ed. 1857) translated chapter 60, which deals with the construction of lines: and Bishop Jebb in his Sacred Literature extended the study. But none of these got beyond Parallelism as it is applied to lines. This has universally gone under the name of, and been treated as, Poetry.
It is a form of the figure Synonymia, by which the subject of one line is repeated in the next line in different, but so-called, synonymous terms.

Parallelism is of seven kinds: three simple and four complex:—

I. Simple.
1. Synonymous or Gradational.
2. Antithetic or Opposite.
3. Synthetic or Constructive.

II. Complex.
1. Alternate. Two lines repeated only once (four lines in all).
2. Repeated Alternation. Two lines repeated more than once.
3. Extended Alternation. Three or more lines repeated.
4. Introverted.

4. Introverted Parallelisms – Page 356 – 362

This is when the parallel lines are so placed that if there be six lines, the first corresponds with the sixth, the second with the fifth, and the third with the fourth.
When this Introversion consists only of words and of the same words, it is called Epanodos (q.v).
When Propositions are introverted, it is called Antimetabole (q.v).
When Subjects are introverted, it is called Chiasmus (see under Correspondence).

Gen. 3:19.—
a End. “Till thou return unto the ground.”
b Origin. “For out of it was thou taken.”
b Origin. “For dust thou art.”
a End. “And unto dust shalt thou return.”

Ex. 9:31.—
a “And the flax
b and the barley was smitten:
b For the barley was in the ear,
a and the flax was bolled.”

Examples in Bullinger’s book.
Gen 3:19
Ex 9:31
Num 15: 35,36
Deut 32:16
1Sam 1:2
2 Sam 3:1
1 Kings 16:22
2Chron 32:7,
Psalm 76:1
Psalm 105:4-8
Psalm 135:15-18
Prov 1:26-27
Prov 3:16
Isa 5:7
Isa 6:10
Isa 11:4
Isa 50:1
Isa 51:8-9
Isa 60:1-3
Dan 5:19
Mt 6:24
Mt 7:6
Rom 9:21-23
1Cor 1:24,25
2Cor 1:3
2Cor 8:14

2 thoughts on “Bullinger on “Introverted Parallelism””

  1. What term is defined by the combining of 2 or more scriptures into one : ” … Thou hast made a covenant with thy chosen therefore with cords of loving kindness have I drawn thee …”

    1. It could simply be called a parallel. The method by which one draws the parallel is crucial though. If it is a theme, it would seem to me to have more merit in dealing across books than say word parallels as that would open a Pandoras box as to finding all sorts of parallels that aren’t intended. The Scriptures, as we have learned contain parallels of theme across books and in several books, this fact does allow us to view these parallels as a single unit when studying the parallels themselves. If one were reading such a parallel as a historic criticism, the integrity as a single unit would break down significantly. Bringing the parallels together to highlight the parallel has scholarly merit. As to your question, again, ‘parallel’ would suffice as a terminology.

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