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2 5 . HISTORY VIEWED IN DAVIDIC PERSPECTIVE We turti YIOW to a major presentation of the Israelite story: the Chronicler's history, especially 1 and 2 Chronicles. This important theological writing has unfortunately been out of bounds for most modern biblical readers. Earlier gener­ ations, however, who read the Bible from cover to cover, were influenced by this portion of Scripture. We are told that John Newton's famous song, "Amazing Grace," was influenced by 1 Chron. 17:16. According to this passage David "sat before Yahweh" and said: "Who am I, O Lord God, . . . that you have brought me thus far?" ("Tis grace that brought me safe thus far.") Also, in some churches the offertory prayer is used: "All things come from you, O God, and of your own have we given you" (1 Chron. 29.14b). The Chronicler's History The Chronicler's history includes the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles (the last two books of the Hebrew Bible) and, in the judgment of many scholars, also the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Even if the two historical works belong together, which is a debatable point, there are important differences between them. One obvious theological difference is that the books of Chronicles stress the Davidic covenant, with its twin institutions of monarchy and temple, while saying little about the Mosaic tradition,- whereas the books of Ezra and Nehemiah stress the Mosaic covenant and minimize the importance of Davidic theology. There is good reason, then, to consider the Chronicler's work as a separate theological statement. In connection with our study of the Mosaic pattern of symbolization we turned to another historical work, the so-called Deuteronomistic history. We found that Deuteronomistic historians attempted to understand Israel's history of failure, culminating in the fall of the nation and the exile of the people, in the light of the covenant perspective associated with Moses. These historians also attached great importance to the royal covenant associated with David, but that covenant was subordinated to the primary Mosaic covenant. The Chronicler's history reverses the priority, placing primary emphasis on God's promises of grace to David. To be sure, the Mosaic Torah, here called "the book of Moses" (2 Chron. 25:4,- 35:12), in its halakic or "legal" sense is invoked, as we shall see,- but the key to understanding Israel's history, according to these theologians, is Yahweh's covenant promises of grace to David. Indeed, some have argued that Chronicles "was written to vindicate the definitiveness of David's covenant over Sinai."1 1. Robert North, S. J., "The Chronicler," in New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown et al. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1990), 364. 218 History Viewed in Davidic Perspective 219 It is striking that Chronicles was written in a time when monarchy had ceased in Israel and when builders of the Second Temple looked back to the glory of the First Temple, the one built by Solomon. This "historical" work, composed after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (probably ca. 400 to 300 B.C.), relies primarily on the source of Samuel/Kings, although it also refers to unknown sources. The story is retold, however, in such a way as to give an imaginative construal in the perspec­ tive of Davidic theology. The Chronicler's work soars beyond the concrete history, with which modern historians attempt to deal, into a symbolic vista perceived by religious imagination. A Theological Revision ofHistory As in the case of the Deuteronomistic history, we may ascertain the theological perspective of the Chronicler in two ways. First, let us examine the way sources are used. Unfortunately, most of the sources referred to are no longer extant, if indeed they ever existed. It would be a great day for archaeology if one of them should turn up, for instance, "the records of the prophet Nathan" (1 Chron. 29:29) or "the story of the prophet Iddo" (2 Chron. 13:22). Fortunately, one of the Chronicler's sources is readily available, namely, Samuel-Kings (specifically 1 Samuel 32 to 2 Kings 25). The Chronicler's perspective is indicated by how he uses this source, sometimes quoting verbatim, sometimes condensing, sometimes omitting, some­ times changing to accord with special interests. The scope of this work extends from creation (Adam) to the fall of the nation and the exile of the people. The first part, from creation to David, is spanned by genealogies (1 Chronicles 1-9,- cf. Matthew's...

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