Parallel Formation

Parallel formation is the primary tool that Biblical authors used to convey stories in both nearby and faraway passages. Parallels come in two basic types: the simple parallel and the complex parallel. The simple parallel can be thought of as two lists that contain similar items in the same order. The complex parallel (commonly called an introverted parallel or chiasmus) is when one list is in reverse order of the other. In both simple and complex parallels each item in each list will be seen as an element. Each element can form a complement or an opposite to its corresponding element.

As with any structure the author may combine both types of parallels in order to make a composite parallel. The author may have one part of the process form a perfect parallel, and if the reader looks at the parallel in a different way it will form an offset––we will call these types of parallels offset parallels. The most complex of all parallels is the multilayer parallel in which the parallel is written in such a way that it is encoded by the source text one way and forms a parallel in the resulting text another way.