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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 130 Reviews may still be used as a valuable handbook for scholars and historians interested in the period of the divided monarchy. John Van Seters University ofNorth Carolina Chapel Hill, NC 27514 1 AND 2 CHRONICLES. By Simon J. De Vries. The Forms of the Old Testament Literature 11. Pp. xv + 439. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989. Paper. This major addition to the FOTL series promises the reader a great deal. As the author's preface phrases it, " ...the way the sacred word is presented (Le., in its structure and genre) is equally vital to the communicative process as its substance or content" (p. xiv). Having targeted this aspect of the narrative's function, the work proceeds to analyze 1 and 2 Chronicles in detail. While De Vries succeeds in illuminating the complex structure of the Chronicler's narrative, one comes away from the work troubled by the way he has gone about his task and confounded by many of the results of his inquiry. A central dilemma with De Vries' approach is its failure to consider forms and genres outside of the biblical corpus in analyzing Chronicles. An example is the complex relationship between Chronicles and the Deuteronomistic history where the Chronicler in places repeats the narrative of 2 Samuel through 2 Kings without alteration, while in other places the Deuteronomistic history'S narrative has been extensively modified to meet the Chronicler's purposes. In dealing with this phenomena, De Vries insists on speaking of the Chronicler as a redactor of sources versus the Chronicler as the author of an historical narrative (p. 16). Such an artificial distinction ignores the way historical narratives were composed in antiquity. A comparison with Greco-Roman historiography would have informed De Vries that past historians regularly adopted previous works and presented them as their own. Thus, Diodorus relied on Ephorus (among others), Livy recast Polybius, and the Chronicler repeated portions of the Deuteronomistic history. Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 131 Reviews Having employed a previously composed work in such a way does not necessarily imply that it possessed some authoritative character as DeVries contends (pp. 15-17). It would be more helpful to ask if there is any indication that the Chronicler wrote assuming the audience knew the Deuteronomistic history. That is, can we determine whether Chronicles was to be received as a new presentation of Israel's past or as a revision of a widely accepted work? Where De Vries addresses this issue the results are convoluted. Although he asserts the Chronicler was not trying "to correct or improve" the Deuteronomistic history, his conclusion that Chronicles tells "Israel's history as it should have been or as it may yet be" implies a corrective purpose (pp. 17-18). The failure to consider non-biblical analogies also hampers the work by engendering a series of unwarranted assumptions that lead to erroneous conclusions on the historical value of the materials in Chronicles. In discussing the genealogical materials of 1 Chr 1-9, De Vries declares that none of the materials are "fictional" but are based on sources employed by the Chronicler (pp. 22-23). This suggests, first, that such genealogical lists were compiled throughout Israel's past; second, that such lists were intentionally preserved and survived the disaster of 587 B.C.E. and the Exile; and third, and perhaps most problematical, that the Chronicler would have been inclined to consult such sources in compiling these chapters. In the far more literate societies of Greece and Rome, such lists were not routinely made, preserved, or consulted (see for example, M. I. Finley, Ancient History: Evidence and Models, pp. 8-18); why should we assume a different situation prevailed in the postexilic community? With such assumptions in hand, however, De Vries applies his formcritical genres with seeming precision finding a bewildering variety of sources behind the Chronicler's lists. Thus we have "name lists:' "tallies," "muster rolls," and "catalogues" carefully distinguished from each other and all presumably rooted in sources available to the Chronicler, some being "very early," such as the "register" presented in 1 Chr 3:1-3 (p. 43). Nor are such sources limited to the genealogical materials at the beginning...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 130-133
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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