We have all been on the receiving end of a good joke told poorly. There was nothing wrong with the content, the problem was delivery. Somehow, words that are hilarious when told one way lose their power when told another. The point is that delivery is just as important as content, and the same goes for the Bible. In fact, it’s been said that the words of a Scripture give half of the meaning but the literary structure gives the other half. That is, the way the words are arranged are just as important as the words themselves! To be good readers, we must be clued in to the literary strategies of the authors of Scripture.
I’m generally skeptical of large-scale suggestions such as this (though I’m intrigued by Wingo’s proposal that Job is a chiasm!) but I think Hamilton is onto something here by suggesting in his new book With the Clouds of Heaven that the entire book of Daniel is a chiasm. After showing that Daniel is broken up into 10 units (closely corresponding to the first 9 chapters and then chapters 10-12), he notes that some chapters are clearly parallel: