Chiasm: Genesis 1 – 11 “He Rests”

As the story of creation unfolds, we encounter the reality of sin and the glory of redemption. God begins a relationship with the pride of his creation: humanity. It’s a dramatic story of ups and downs. This painting is a depiction of the greater chiasm found within the story of the beginnings of humanity from Adam & Eve to the Tower of Babel. 

There are six stories within this first part of Genesis, told in sets of 3 and separated by genealogies. Tensions and choices within each story reveal repeated patterns. This painting is broken down like a grid, showing outcomes in colors that represent the choices people made. It’s no surprise, that a pattern emerges. 

Genesis 1 (Creation Story) corresponds to Genesis 6 (Noah’s Ark) 

Gen 2-3 (Adam & Eve) to Gen 9-10 (Noah’s Curse) 

Gen 4 (Cain & Abel) to Gen 11 (Tower of Babel) 

Gen 5 (Genealogy of Noah) to Gen 11b (Genealogy of Abram)

The chiastic structure of this painting is broken down like this: At the beginning top of the paintings, we see that every story encounters problems, depicted by the color of a deep blue like a vast sea. Next, each story includes a chiasm, represented here as red. Then we move into the choices that characters made. Each story either results in something being deemed good (turquoise) or tragedy (dark green, like envy). Then we move into a debate of power in the fourth row, showing whether or not God chose to stop creating or destroying (yellow – power, like the sun), and whether people became obsessed with their own sin (pink, for flesh and belief in their own power being greater than God’s). Then we finally move into whether the story ended in rest (white, symbolizing purity) or mistrust (blue). 

Blue (mistrust) is a color the priests of God often wore. The “rest” portion is also white (pure) with hints of blue and turquoise. Here, I play with the spectrum of blue representing trust. The darker blue represents the misplaced trust that occurs when people believe that they are God—when they believe that they can use their enabled priesthood to take control of a situation that is actually in God’s control, or when they try to define their own holiness instead of stewarding the holiness of God that has set them apart to enable others.

It seems odd to have genealogies in the middle of these stories, but they serve a purpose. The Genealogy portions are white, but I’ve pulled in all the other colors to show a history of past mistrust, goodness, and tragedy. And at the end of the first genealogy, there is a magenta dot, which represents Noah. 

The magenta color is a combination of the red for blood (a pattern and history of blood and violence) and pink (sins/flesh). Noah is a flawed man born with a family history of flaws. At the center of this chiasm of Genesis 1-11 sits the name of Noah, which means “my comfort” or “he rests.” I also love that the dot of Noah kind of looks like a belly button—like the nations come from his line and a belly button is your severed connection to the genealogy before you, a token of the fact that you were once connected to another person. 

I was introduced to the patterns of chiasms in scripture via the BEMA podcast. The host, Marty Solomon, sums up Genesis 1-11 well here:

“Here in the center of a chiasm sits a verse about a man whose name is “he rests.”

If you’re willing to trust the story. If you’re willing to be somebody that can find that place of rest and not become obsessed with your own creativity, obsessed with your own fears, obsessed with your own insecurities, obsessed with the threats of broken relationships of the people around you. If you can learn to be like God and to stop. If you can know when to say enough and know when to stop creating and when to stop destroying, well, God is going to be able to use you to save all of creation. He’s going to be able to use you to put the story together. You’re going to be this great partner for him.”

– Marty Solomon, BEMA Podcast Host

 

MADE TO ORDER

$100

16×20 acrylic on canvas

Birchwood frame included.

Shipping not included.

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

$250

30 in x 30 in x 2 in

Acrylic on canvas

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