Appendix-III

 

 

The book of Chronicles, although now included in the canon of the Bible, has been regarded as less authentic by the authorities and as such its assigning the name of ‘Moriah’ to the site of the Solomon’s Temple carries no weight. W. H. Bennett confirms this in the Jewish Enc:

Chronicles (from its position in many manuscripts [MSS], etc., after Nehemiah) only obtained its place in the canon by an afterthought.[1]

He states that it was not included in some Christian lists of canonical books: ‘The omission[2] of Chronicles from some Christian lists of canonical books is probably accidental.’[3]As to its date of composing, he asserts:

It is part of a larger work, Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah, composed in the Greek period between the death of Alexander (B.C. 323)and the revolt of the Maccabees (B.C. 167).’ (…). Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah must be later than the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (458-432). In style and language the book belongs to the latest period of Biblical Hebrew. The descendants of Zerubbabel (I Chron. iii. 24) are given, in Masoretic text, to the sixth generation (about B.C. 350); in the LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate, to the eleventh generation after Zerubbabel (aboutB.C. 200) [which shows that it was written or added afterBC 200]. The list of high priests in Neh. xii. 10, 11, extends to Jeddua (c.330). These lists might, indeed, have been made up to date after the book was completed; but other considerations point conclusively to the Greek period; e.g., in Ezravi. 22, Darius is called ‘the king of Assyria.’ On the other hand, the use of the book in the Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) referred to above, the absence of any trace of the Maccabean struggle, and the use of the LXX, Chronicles by Eupolemus (c.B.C. 150; see Swete,l.c. p. 24), point to a date not later than B.C. 200. Hence Chronicles is usually assigned to the periodB.C. 300-250.[4]

Dr. Emil G. Hirach, Prof. of Rabbinical Literature and Philosophy, Univ. of Chicago, asserts in the Jewish Enc. that its historical accuracy was doubted by the Talmudic authorities and that the Chronicler exercised ‘great freedom’ in ascribing names(to persons or places):

On the whole, Chronicles was regarded with suspicion; its historical accuracy was doubted by the Talmudic authorities, (…). The names were treated with great freedom;[5]

The 7th-Day Adventist BC observes that while narrating the construction of the Temple the Chronicler has exercised full liberty in adding or omitting the details to suit his designs:

Certain items concerning the building of the Temple have been omitted, others are presented more briefly, others are given in the same wording as Kings, while others are entirely new.[6]

H. Bennett, Prof. of Hebrew at Norfolk, England, asserts in the Jewish Enc. that interpolations of various kinds were freely exercised in it. In addition to the liberties that were freely enjoyed by the author during its compilation, interpolations and additions have been made even after it had been ‘substantially completed’ by some later scholars:

(…) and perhaps additions were made to the book after it was substantially complete. In dealing with matter not found in other books it is difficult to distinguish between matter which the chronicler found in his source, matter which he added himself, and later additions, as all the authors concerned wrote in the same spirit and style; (….). Where Chronicles contradicts Samuel-Kings, preference must be given to the older work, except where the text of the latter is clearly corrupt[7]. With the same exception, it may be assumed that sections of the primitive ‘Chronicles’ [some older book on the annals of history of the concerned period other than the book of Chronicles of the Bible, which the Chronicler used as a source] are much more accurately preserved in Samuel-Kings than in Chronicles. (…) The consistent exaggeration of numbers on the part of the chronicler shows us that from a historical point of view his unsupported statements must be received with caution. (…). What they prove is that he did not possess that sense of historical exactitude which we now demand from the historian.[8]

J. E. Goldingay, Registrar and Lecturer in OT, St. John College, Nottingham, makes similar observations in his article on ‘Chronicles, book of’ in New Bible Dic. II Ed:

Like most OT books, however, Chroniclesis of anonymous authorship,and no conclusions are possible as to who wrote it. (…), he did wish to bring a specific message from God applied to the people of his own day, and it is this that leads him to his extensive working of his text, omitting what was now irrelevant, adding material that was now newly relevant, changing what was now misleading, and so on. Chronicles has been regarded as poorer history than Samuel-Kings, (…). Some of its alterations to Samuel-Kings raise historical problems: (…) textual corruption or misunderstanding has often been suspected. (…) ¾ here the author perhaps resembles an artist painting the figures of the past in the dress of his own age [anachronism]. Such characteristics have led to the questioning of the extra material Chronicles includes which does not appear in Samuel-Kings. (…), and the main narratives, as we have noted, are substantially derived from Samuel-Kings. [9]

J. L. McKenzie has also recorded in his Dic. of Bible that the Chronicler, instead of history, was interested in his three self-framed purposes, one of which was ‘the primacy of the temple and the cult’:

It may be summed up by saying that the Chronicler intended to write not what happened, but what ought to have happened;(…). This ideal is specified by three theological principles which he represents as governing events:(…), and the primacy of the temple and the cult.(…). The third principle appears in the space and importance which the Chronicler gives to the temple and its cult and personnel,(…). It is necessary to see the Chronicler’s purpose.[10]

Rev. J. Mulcahy, Professor of Sacred Scripture, Holy Ghost College, Kimmage, Dublin has interestingly analyzed the themes and purposes of the Chronicler in ‘A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture’ and has exposed his ‘credentials’ in the following words:

The claim of Jerusalem to be the only place where legitimate worship of Yahweh is possible is the second principal element in the Chronicler’s theme. (….). In the neutral passages (…) there seems to be no reason to doubt the strictly historical character of the narrative. In the other passages, however, we should be doing an injustice to him, were we to judge him merely as an historian. Since, for him, history is a handmaid of theology, it is the theological understanding that is important for him, not the naked historical fact. If he clothes this naked fact with somewhat imaginary adornments, we must accept this as his method of teaching theology and not reproach him for the lack of an historical exactness which a comparison between his text and that of Sm-Kgs shows that he never intended. On other matters, which were not affected by the Chronicler’s special point of view and purposes, historical value is recognized in his traditions.[11]

H. Pfeiffer has undertaken a fairly detailed analytical study of the book of Chronicles in his article on it in the Interpreter’s Dic. of Bible. Some excerpts from his article will help the reader in making some genuine opinion:

The Chronicler not only teaches the proper faith in God, after the manner of the Priestly Code, by such graphic fictitious stories,(…). To raise the low morale at such times, the Chronicler exaggerated the splendor of the Jewish kingdom in the past, (…). In glorifying Judaism and the Jews through the centuries beyond all possibilities, the Chronicler necessarily rewrote the history from David to Cyrus; he freely omitted from his sources, added to them, modified them, being blissfully unaware of anachronisms[12] and impossibilities. (…). In general the Chronicler modified our canonical sources with complete freedom to suit his ideas. (…), and modified what did not agree with his religious views or his notions of the facts of history. (…). Elsewhere the Chronicler rewrote the narration of Samuel and Kings in order to express his own views, which often differed from those of his sources; (…). These examples suffice to illustrate the various methods by which the Chronicler rewrote, edited, shortened, expanded, and arbitrarily changed the passages in Samuel and Kings which suited his purposes, omitting the rest,(…); in the other half the Chronicler, unless he had access to other sources unknown to us was able to display his vivid imagination by composing freely, without any guidance. (…). A date ca 250 B.C. or a little earlier is far more probable than 400-350 B.C.,[13]

Almost every scholar who worked on the book of Chronicles, has expressed similar views about it. They can be summed up as below:

       1.         Originally, the ‘Chronicles’ was not deemed fit to be included in the canon of the OT. It was included in the canon at some later stage.

       2.         It was omitted from some Christian lists of canonical books.

       3.         ‘Like most OT books, Chronicles is of anonymous authorship, and no conclusions are possible as to who wrote it.’, as stated by New Bible Dic.

       4.         According to the Jewish Enc. ‘Chronicles is usually assigned to the period BC 300-250.’

       5.         Being written about seven centuries after the incident by some anonymous author, it is clear that the writer was not an eye-witness of the incident.

       6.         As recorded by the Jewish Enc. ‘On the whole, Chronicles was regarded with suspicion; its historical accuracy was doubted by the Talmudic authorities.’

       7.         The Chronicler has retold the ‘history’ already recorded by the book of Samuel, Book of Kings, etc. But according to New Bible Dic. ‘Chronicles has been regarded as poorer history than Samuel-Kings,’ 

       8.         The Chronicler was working for some self framed purposes or principles, for which, as the Interpreter’s Dic. of Bibleputs it, he: ‘necessarily rewrote the history from David to Cyrus; he freely omitted from his sources, added to them, modified them, being blissfully unaware of anachronisms and impossibilities. (…). In general the Chronicler modified our canonical sources with complete freedom to suit his ideas. (…), and modified what did not agree with his religious views or his notions of the facts of history.’; and ‘In glorifying Judaism and the Jews through the centuries beyond all possibilities, (…). Elsewhere the Chronicler rewrote the narration of Samuel and Kings in order to express his own views, which often differed from those of his sources; (…) These examples suffice to illustrate the various methods by which the Chronicler rewrote, edited, shortened, expanded, and arbitrarily changed the passages in Samuel and Kings which suited his purposes, omitting the rest.’ [stress added]

       9.         One of his self-framed purposes was, in the words of McKenzie: ‘the primacy of the temple’;and ‘It is necessary to see the Chronicler’s purpose’.

     10.       It was in view of his this self-framed purpose that he tried to glorify and sanctify the ‘Solomon’s Temple’, and forged to locate Moriah at the site of Abraham’s offering of his only son for sacrifice. 

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