The above was the title of my ISBL paper delivered last week in St. Andrews. It seemed well received by those who attended the session (NT Methods), which I felt was a nice session of papers. My paper is part of a slightly larger project on chiasm that I hope to publish in article form in due time.
In my 25 minutes, I traced ancient discussions of chiastic-like structures (n.b., there are very few of them!) and then the modern period discussion (beginning from the 18th century). I observed the necessary circularity of the inductive study of the use and function of chiasm, and I pointed out how supposed larger chiastic structures have a particular difficulty in overcoming this circularity (whereas smaller chiasms are easier to relate to other forms of parallelism, for example). I argued that macro-chiasms should be distinguished from micro-chiasms, and the former simply need a stronger theoretical underpinning to be validated as significant features of ancient texts. In short, I was fairly hard on macro-chiasms and remain skeptical of their existence and value.