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2 Chronicles

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James King West writes: "Evaluation of the Chronicler's work hinges largely on a determination of the purpose for which he wrote. As a historian, he has to be relegated to a position inferior to that of the Deuteronomist. This, not simply because he depended so heavily upon the latter's work—the Deuteronomist himself no doubt relied just as heavily upon his own sources—nor because his chronology of the Nehemiah-Ezra era is so hopelessly confusing (and, apparently, confused). The judgment concerns, rather, the transparent techniques by which he rewrote Hebrew history to suit his own theological bias. Of all that transpired prior to David's reign, he found it necesary to show—chiefly through genealogical lists (chs. 1-9)—only how the divine purpose had cenetered first on Israel, then on the pivotal tribes of Judah and Levi. His overriding interest in the Jerusalem temple, especially the Levitical priests and their functions, prompted him to omit crucially significant phases of the Davidic history itself in favor of long, legendary accounts attributing the entire plan of the temple cult to David. So close was David's relationship to Jeruselam that, even though he did not himself erect the temple, in the Chronicler's eyes he became the idealized patron of worship and the supreme symbol of Israel's role as God's holy priesthood. It was this, rather than simply to desire to 'whitewash' David, that led the Chronicler to omit most of the uncomplimentary stories about him recorded in the Deuteronomistic history (and especially the Court History): the bloody intrigues which gave him the kingship, the Bathsheba and Uriah affair, the turbulence that marked the latter years of his reign. By comparison, Saul, who had no connection with Jerusalem or Davidic lineage, is given a light and negative treatment, consisting of a genealogy, an obituary, and the notation that he was unfaithful to Yahweh. His anointing as king is omitted, as if to say that kingship actually began with David. Solomon, however, shares the aura of his father and receives a favorable report. From Solomon and onward, the northern kingdom is all but ignored, as the Chronicler records the successive reigns of the kings in Jerusalem, the fall of the city, and the story of its restoration." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 426)

Samuel Sandmel writes: "Chronicles was at one time joined to Ezra and Nehemiah. All three books, except for interpolations, were completed and written by the same hand. When Ezra and Nehemiah were detached, they (unlike Chronicles) underwent interpolation in a matter of some importance; this scattered interpolation reflects the interest of the Priest as distinct from the Levite. It will be recalled that there was a stage at which the terms levi and kohen ('priest') were interchangeable; the Levites came to be conceived of as a tribe descended from Levi, a son of Jacob. When Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah was written there had not as yet developed fully the view that one family, that of Aaron and of his descendents of David's time, Zadok, constituted an elite within the Levites. The distinction was interpolated into Ezra and Nehemiah; Chronicles, however, remained Levite rather than Priestly. Ezra and Nehemiah were apparently admitted into the canon before Chronicles. A rounded understanding of the religion of the Chronicler must be deferred until we have looked at Ezra and Nehemiah. Chronicles carries events down to the year 539. Ezra and Nehemiah carry them to about 430 or 398. Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah was written either between 350 and 250, or else about 350, continuing to be added to as late as 250. Ezra and Nehemiah came into the canon because they contain virtually the only data we have on the postexilic period. Chronicles was accepted as an afterthought. It was the centrality of the Temple in Chronicles that preserved it from disappearing during the interval when Ezra and Nehemiah were canonized and Chronicles was not. Since it did not disappear, it too came into the canon as the last book in the Hebrew list. Chronicles, properly assessed, is a useful book, but not an inspiring one." (The Hebrew Scriptures, p. 479)

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