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Title: History, Literature and Theology in the Book of Chronicles
Author: Ben-Zvi, Ehud
Publisher: Acumen Publishing; Publication Date: 2006
Paperback; ISBN: 9781845530716
Volumes: 1; Pages: 304
List Price in Paper: $39.95 Our price: $31.99
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A collection of studies published in the last fifteen years in a variety of journals, Festschriften and other works. The cumulative weight of these studies leads to a new understanding of the Book of Chronicles, its balanced and nuanced theology, historiographical approach and the way in which the book serves to reshape the social memory of its intended readership, in accordance with its own multiple viewpoints and the knowledge of the past held by its community.
Although each of these studies explores a particular topic or pericope their conclusions or implications converge time and again. It is their convergence that calls for a thorough re-evaluation of the theology of the Book of Chronicles and the understanding of (hi)story that it advances. The volume also contributes to a better understanding of the self-perception of the (hi)storian that it reflects, the world of knowledge of its readership, and accepted views about borders, among Israel and "the other," or men and women, and their partial permeability. Thus, this collections provides an important window for the examination of the intellectual history and milieu of late Achaemenid Yehud and Jerusalem.
This volume shows that Chronicles communicates to its intended readership a theological worldview built around multiple, partial perspectives informing and balancing each other. Significantly, it is a worldview in which the limitations of even theologically "proper" knowledge are emphasized. For instance, in Chronicles' past similar deeds may and at times did lead to very different results. Thus, even if most of the past is presented to the readers as explainable, it also affirms that those who inhabited it could not predict the path of future events. Chronicles is therefore, an (hi)storiographical work that informs its readers that historical and theological knowledge does not enable prediction of future events. Further, although Chronicles tries to expand the "explainable" past, it poignantly construes some of the most crucial events in Israel's social memory as unexplainable in human terms. Thus, Chronicles communicates to its readers that some of YHWH's most influential decisions concerning Israel cannot be predicted or explained. It is against this background of human limitation in understanding causes and effects in a past (present and future) governed by YHWH and the uncertainty that it brings, that the emphasis on divinely ordained, prescriptive behaviour should be seen. The intellectual horizon of Chronicles was perhaps not so far from that of the interpretative frame of Job or Qohelet, and of these books as a whole.