TH6317 The Interpretation of the History of Israel
Persian Period, Chronicles
Read the Paper Guide on “Writing.”
Plan to have a draft thesis by February 21.
- Collins, “The Books of Chronicles” [0:30]
- 1 Chronicles 16 [0:06]
- Buster, “Historical Summaries as Commemoration in Chronicles,” in Remembering the Story of Israel, pp. 121-53. [1:39]
- 1-2 Chronicles as time permits [0:45]
- Priestly source and final edition of the Torah
- Characteristics of a priestly perspective
- Adaptation and interpretation of D
- The rise of the Torah as a central authority in Judean society
- Changing roles (decline of king and prophet, rise of priest and scribe)
- Identity formation and Judaism as a religion
Historical context of the Persian period
- 538-333 BCE
- What we know about Persian administration from other documents (including the Elephantine Papyri)
- What we know about the Persian period from prophetic books (Second Isaiah, Third Isaiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Joel, Jonah)
Relationship of Chronicles to other books
- Genesis (creation, genealogy, Moriah of near sacrifice of Isaac)
- The Priestly Source (e.g., Ex 40:34 || 2 Chron 7:1)
- Canonical classification: with historical books in Greek/Catholic bibles, “Writings” are a separate category in the Jewish TaNaKh
- Post-biblical interpretation: the basic patterns we shall see in how Chronicles retells received traditions will continue in how post-biblical sources will interpret biblical sources.
The Davidic Covenant retold
2 Samuel 7:11 ... Moreover, the LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you:
12 when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever.
14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments;
15 but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you.
16 Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever.
1 Chronicles 17:10 ... Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house:
11 when your days have been completed and you must join your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you who will be one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.
12 He it is who shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.
13 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me, and I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from the one who was before you;
14 but I will maintain him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be firmly established forever.
God touched up
2 Samuel 24:1 The LORD’s anger against Israel flared again, and he incited David against them: “Go, take a census of Israel and Judah.”
1 Chronicles 21:1 A satan (or: Satan) rose up against Israel, and he incited David to take a census of Israel.
David touched up
- Bathsheba, Amnon, Absalom
- Less political and military detail
- Supporter of priests and sanctuary
Similarly with Solomon, note not just that David and Solomon are portrayed as ideal kings, but examine what the ideal is.
- According to Priestly Source and Chronicles: High Priest must be descended from Zadok, priests must be descended from Aaron, assistants must be descended from Levi (clear hierarchy)
- Reading between the lines shows development in roles and status of priestly families and competing families (Mushites, Elides)
- Genealogy may be super boring to you in the Bible, or a hobby or curiosity for your own family, but the claim in P and C is that your role in society is determined by your genealogy.
Relationship to other authorities
- Civil government
- Prophets as singers, reminders to follow written Torah, historians (1 Chron 25:1-3)
- Nuance between obedience to commandments/ordinances and obedience to Torah (Law)
Relationship to northern tribes
There is a slow and interesting march from emphasis on all Israel to only the southern tribes, namely Judeans eventually shortened to Jews.
On the one hand, it is striking to me how long after the division the Judeans continued to emphasize a holistic view of Israel and themselves as Israelites.
On the other hand, we can see in Chronicles a decreasing interest in the northern tribes.
They are in principle included as a rank between Gentiles and Levites, but the temple can function just fine without them.
The theological problem of the DtrH demonization of Manasseh and valorization of Josiah
- Manasseh was wicked but lived a long time
- Josiah was good but died young
- The Babylonian Exile occurred long after the death of Manasseh and shortly after the death of Josiah
- DtrH needed an explanation of the end of the monarchy.
- C needed an explanation of the destruction of the temple (likely found it in Ezekiel).
Chronicles in terms of the 4-7 assumptions
- Cryptic (divine anger really refers to an angel)
- Perfectly consistent (avoids duplicity about monarchy)
- Perfect whole (draws from Genesis to introduce story of kings)
- Morally perfect (idealizes God, David, Solomon, Hezekiah)
- Perfectly consistent with my religion (projects combination of Passover and Unleavened Bread onto time of Hezekiah)
- Relevant (increased tendency to derive moral lessons from history)
- Divine (historians are prophets)
Performers of the story of Israel in Chronicles (Buster ch.3)
The C narrator
- Avoids re-narrating story of Israel before monarchy. Why?
Kings in the narrative
- Pray the story of Israel, remember, connect past to present
People/Levites/cult participants in the narrative
- Perform historical psalms as a marker of cultural literacy and membership
- Take on a role formerly the domain of kings
Further Reading on Chronicles
Isaac Kalimi, The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2005.
Ralph Klein, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress 2006, 2012.
Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel,
especially the example on pp. 73-74.