Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Purpose of 1 and 2 Chronicles

The dominant purpose and message of Chronicles, I believe, is to typologically present a template for the people of Yahweh, particularly in terms of their lives, worship, and monarchy. Note, I don’t believe it’s primarily eschatological or messianic, but is shows an idealistic template for God’s people against non-working models, this however gives messianic expectations. This is shown chiefly through the Davidic kingdom as the benchmark, then historiographically through factual events told with a contextual angle.

Throughout Chronicles, this purpose is shown through several recurring independent themes. Some make the error of isolating a theme as dominant and pivoting message upon said theme. To avoid the same error, this essay will take several of what I believe are key themes as case studies, each theme containing key texts from Chronicles, to show how each theme adds to our understanding of the overarching message of this work.

I don’t believe that the Chronicler is primarily trying to present us with a neutral historical account, or even an accurate overview of its events. However Chronicles does contain facts, which have been inclined for the Chronicler’s theological agenda. Or, ‘whereas the main facts may remain the same, what the readers learn from them changes substantially.’ The recontexualised facts of Israel’s history has led some to question the historicity of Chronicles and its place in the cannon as a ‘history book’ following Samuel-Kings. However, the facts within Chronicles rhetoric, although biased, generally parry with other socio-historical sources, the main difference being, ‘the narrative context gives meaning to the facts, rather than vice versa.’ ,
On the other hand, much of Chronicles leads us to assume its desired historicity; the original title is translated ‘The Events of the Times’ and our word ‘Chronicles’ comes from ‘The Chronicle of the Entire Sacred History.’ Further, the Chronicler carefully handles several secondary sources, such as Samuel-Kings, the Pentateuch, royal annals, and unknown prophetic writings (such as those of Nathan and Samuel ). These lead some commentators to say that Chronicles is primarily a historical book which theological agenda is brought out within its historical framework. Some see Chronicles as a supplement to other sources, the ‘omitted things,’ omitted particularly from Samuel-Kings, note Jewish Historian, Josephus holds this view. My opinion is that Chronicles is primarily theological; the history has been thereby recontexualised for this agenda.

Quotes from: Ehud Ben Zvi, cit. M. P. Graham, The Chronicler as Theologian, (T & T Clark International, London, 2003) p. 63

For Josephus reference see; Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae VIII 246,


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