It may well be that no book of the Bible is less read as a whole than Chronicles—in Hebrew manuscripts I and II Chronicles are one book, though the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible follow our division into two. It is a safe guess that certain of its chapters are read virtually only by those that find themselves committed to it by some scheme of Bible reading, and we may hazard the suggestion that they all too often skimp their task here. When we hear someone repeating the old saying, “All Scripture is inspired, but some parts are more inspiring than others,” it is fairly certain he is thinking of some of the lists of names of Chronicles.

The reason for all this lies less in the book itself and more in our wrong approach to it. Already in the Septuagint, the Greek translation made before the time of our Lord, it is called Paraleipomena (a name that lives on in the Vulgate), meaning things omitted. The name implies that here we have the bits and pieces for which no room could be found in Samuel and Kings. That is how we all too often read it, almost intuitively comparing and contrasting its information with that of the other books. To get the full value out of Chronicles we must discover why it was written and read it accordingly.

AUTHORSHIP, DATE AND SOURCES

Like all the other historical books it is anonymous. The closing verses of II Chronicles make it clear that it must have been written after the return from the Babylonian exile. If the almost universal modern view is correct that Ezra and Nehemiah were originally part of Chronicles, then it cannot be earlier than Ezra. Young, while rejecting this view, puts the book in the same general period as Ezra. Jewish Talmudic tradition seems to attribute it to Ezra, but The Jewish ...

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