1 and 2 Chronicles

Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics

1 and 2 Chronicles

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In the Hebrew Bible the grand narrative of the story of Israel from exodus to exile has ended and the collection of the prophets (Isaiah-Malachi) follows immediately on from 2 Kings. The Greek canon puts the books of laws (Torah) and all the histories together, so 2 Kings (‘4 Reigns’, to use the language of the Septuagint) is followed by Chronicles (Paralipomenon, ‘the things left out’), and this is the order followed by English Bibles. The Books of Chronicles retell the story of the primary narrative (Genesis-Kings) from Adam to the fall of Jerusalem (1 Chr. 1: 1–9: 1), focusing on the first occupation of the land (1 Chr. 9) and then moving directly to the story of David after the death of Saul (1 Chr. 10–29). A comparison of Chronicles with Genesis-Kings illustrates many of the problems involved in coming to grips with the Bible. Traditional readings assume that the author of Chronicles wrote after the production of the Books of Kings, but the relationship between the two accounts may be more problematic. Certainly, its carefully constructed narratives are not ‘chronicles’ in the sense of, say, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, where the main idea is to note down what happened, with little or no overt explanation. One of the main differences between Kings and Chronicles is that the Chronicler makes David the focus of his narrative and the effective founder of the temple cultus. Solomon may build the temple, but David planned and organized the materials for its building (1 Chr. 28–9). The Chronicler's temple is in effect the continuation of David's kingdom. So the ending of Chronicles with a note about the imperial command of Cyrus, the Persian emperor, to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem has the effect of legitimating the second temple as the rebuilt Davidic cult centre (2 Chr. 36: 22–3). The Chronicler brings the story of Adam up to date in his own time, while still focusing on the past. All the biblical writers focus on the distant past while writing about their own times: as in the classical world of Homer and Virgil, legitimation and authority come from the past, but apply to the present times of the writers.

Chapter.  700 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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