• Greek: para, beside; allos, other


The balancing of one line of a verse against the other. It is the most distinctive feature of Hebrew poetry. If the second line repeats the thought of the first, the parallelism is synonymous, e.g.,

“Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 50:4).

Antithetical parallelism opposes one thought to the other:

“For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).

To expand the thought of the first line in the second is to use synthetic parallelism:

“O Lord my God, in Thee have I put my trust. Save me from my persecutors and rescue me.” (Psalm 7:2).

If the expansion is continued step by step through several lines the parallelism is climactic or stairlike.

MLA Citation

  • “parallelism”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 6 February 2013. Web. 26 January 2022. <>