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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

1 Chronicles - Introduction to 1, 2 Chronicles

The Chronicler offers his readers a history of what was important from the community's (namely Judah's) past, something quite different from the earlier narratives * of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. While the Deuteronomistic * History (Judges through 2 Kings) tries to justify the destruction of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah by showing how both communities turned their backs on God by practicing idolatry, * the Chronicler is more concerned to present a positive model from Israel's past. Starting with David as an example, the narratives that stand out in the Chronicler's history are those in which the community or king respond faithfully to God, finding unity and security in response. Good kings are those who “seek the LORD,” and in return they experience military and economic success, and their subjects experience great joy in gathering before the Temple * in Jerusalem for worship. These positive models are intended to speak to the Chronicler's readers, to convince them that in “seeking the LORD” at the Temple in their own day, they will find their fullest sense of purpose and community.

The narratives of the Chronicler's history abound with historical problems from the view of a modern reader. David makes provision for the use of marble in building the Temple (1 Chr 29.2 ); however, marble was not used in Jerusalem until the Hellenistic * age seven hundred years later. David collects “10,000 darics” (1 Chr 29.7 ) for the Temple, a coin of the Persian empire 500 years after the Davidic period. Impossibly large numbers of military forces are mustered in the field (300,000 from Judah, 280,000 from Benjamin, facing a “million” from Egypt; 2 Chr 14.8–9 ), and stock numbers are often used (for example, Shishak of Egypt attacks with “1,200 chariots and 60,000 chariots,” playing on the number 12 and its multiples; 2 Chr 12.3 ). The Chronicler never mentions David's transgression in taking Bathsheba as wife (2 Sam 11–12 ), nor for that matter Solomon's fall into idolatry (1 Kings 11 ). These tendencies are similar to Hellenistic historians of the same general period, suggesting the Chronicler is simply writing about the past with commonly accepted, perhaps even expected, conventions.

Part of the dilemma over the historical value of 1 and 2 Chronicles involves what potential sources the author had at his disposal. The author cites a number of sources that are otherwise unknown; however, the general stylistic uniformity between narratives where sources are mentioned and where none are indicated raises the suspicion that such sources may not have existed. There is no conclusive evidence to support the Chronicler's use of any sources other than 1 Samuel through 2 Kings.

In its original form, the Hebrew Chronicles would have filled one single scroll. Its division into two parts was accomplished when the codex or book-form of transmitting literature became the standard, probably in the early centuries CE.

While numerous proposals have been offered for the date of the Chronicler's composition, perhaps the most telling points are the interest in military matters and the result of “peace” when the community “seeks the LORD.” Following the death of Alexander the Great (around 330 BCE), his successors fought incessantly with each other, often across the landscape of Palestine. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that in the last decades of the fourth century BCE nearly every urban center in Palestine suffered military destruction. It was not until the Ptolemaic * rulers of Egypt suppressed their Syrian rivals that peace came to Palestine in the early second century BCE. In the midst of such turmoil, a message focusing on the peace that “seeking the LORD” might bring would have been particularly powerful.

The author focuses almost exclusively on the events affecting Jerusalem and the Temple. With regard to the Temple, the author shows particular interest in the activities of the priesthood and individuals given prominence in Temple affairs. Many scholars conclude that the author was a member of the Temple priesthood.

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