The symmetrical arrangement of parallel lines of about the same length (called “cola” or “stichs”) in which meaning, grammar, syntax, form, and stress balance and reinforce one another constitute parallelism. The cadence of the Psalms even in translation rises in the main from these overlapping parallelisms-semantic, syntactic, morphological, prosodic. Usually two parallel lines appear together, forming a “bicolon” or a “dystich:”
Types of parallelism emerge from the common patterns of meaning sustained between these parallel lines. Synonymous parallelism describes bicola or tricola in which the same or similar thoughts are repeated:
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
In synthetic parallelism the second or third lines of the unit are not synonymous or antithetic to the first line but advance the thought in a variety of other ways. For example, one of the lines may give a comparison to illuminate the other. This is emblematic parallelism:
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. 103:13
Other lines of synthetic parallelism relate by reason or result, as in 34:9:
Fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
Many lines of synthetic parallelism simply advance or complete the thought without recourse to any of the semantic ties noted above, as, for example, in 23:6:
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Climactic parallelism designates a highly repetitive, slowly advancing set of lines such as in 29:1-2:
Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
You've successfully created your account! For the best Bible Gateway experience, consider an upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll get reduced banner ads and a huge digital Bible study library. Try it free for 30 days!