Tracing the Train of Thought by the Aid of Parallelism

(Our attention has been drawn to the writings of  John Forbes who produced a commentary on Romans in 1868 using chiastic parallelism. His reasons for writing strike a welcome chord – here are some excerpts from the preface.)

Forbes, J. (1868). Analytical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Tracing the Train of Thought by the Aid of Parallelism, with Notes and Dissertations (pp. v–xi). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

“AMIDST the multiplicity of Commentaries that we possess on the Epistles of St Paul, there seems still to be a want of a concise Analytical Commentary, the great object of which shall be to enable the Biblical student, while keeping prominently before him the text, to trace the plan and train of thought followed by the Apostle, to mark the transitions and connecting links in the argument, and to perceive the mutual relations and interdependence of its various parts …

… To furnish such an analysis, no method (it has long appeared to the author) is so well adapted as the arrangement of the text by Parallelism. By grouping the Epistle into the original paragraphs designed by the author, Parallelism enables us to concentrate our attention on a small portion till its leading idea is discovered. Proceeding thus paragraph after paragraph, and stating to ourselves in concise terms the leading idea elicited in each, we can compare it successively with the paragraphs that precede and follow, and gradually ascertain the true relations and connexion of the whole“.

” … By the application of the principles of Parallelism to an entire book of Scripture, to give to the public an opportunity of verifying the correctness of the eulogium pronounced by the author, in a former work,* on the importance of Bishop Lowth’s discovery of the Parallelism of Scripture, “as furnishing one of the most valuable aids ever presented to the interpreter, and calculated, when its principles have been more fully developed, to throw a new and clearer light on a great part of the sacred volume.”



One thought on “Tracing the Train of Thought by the Aid of Parallelism”

  1. I prefer the term “pairings” over “parallelism”. To me it is discovering pairings of words or ideas that demonstrate incredible design in the Scriptures.

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