I find reading 1 & 2 Chronicles difficult. It isn’t the genealogies or long lists of temple attendants, musicians and officials. When I encounter these in the Bible, I just read faster. My difficulty is in the narrative itself. When you read Kings, you discover the dynastic declines of Israel and Judah and a prophetic critique of the monarchy, which explains why God’s people went into exile. Chronicles tells a different tale. Kings of Judah described as evil turn out to be redeemable (i.e., David’s sins are omitted, Manasseh of Judah in II Kings 21:1–18 vs. 2 Chronicles 32:33–33:20). However the Chronicler was no mere propagandist. Eugene Merrill (professor emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary) points out that the Chronicler’s omissions and additions are “designed to offer hope to the beleaguered community as well as issue warnings that should they fall back into the ways of their fathers they could expect the judgment of God to be repeated” (57). This means that Chronicles is less about whitewashing the errors of David and his line, and more about underscoring the ways God’s redemptive plan was operative, despite Judah’s failings.
A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles, from the Kregel Exegetical Library is another volume in an exceptional series. This is a much more detailed commentary than Merrill’s early 1, 2 Chronicles (Zondervan, 1988). Each pericope has the text in translation (the NIV), text-critical notations and a section exegesis and exposition. In Merrill’s introduction, he discusses authorship and provenance, the historical and cultural setting of both the book and the post exilic community it was written in, the literary form and genre of ‘sacred history,’ the theology, and the book’s sources. In addition, there are ten excursuses which take a more detailed look at theological and historical issues, a index of seven significant hymns and prayers (the Prayer of Jabez doesn’t make this list, but is treated in the commentary), and an examination of the theology of each of the nine sections.
At 636 pages, this isn’t a light commentary, but it is an accessible one. Merrill is detailed but readable. If you are interested in exploring the message of Chronicles, its theology and implications, Merrill is a fantastic guide. He highlights the hope Chronicles brought to Jews returning to Jerusalem. This commentary (like the series) represents some of the best in evangelical biblical scholarship. This will be a useful for pastors who would like to preach from Chronicles and seminarians alike. Merrill distills well the chronicler’s theology and this will be my go-to-resource for this section of scripture. I give this commentary five stars.
Note: I received this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for my honest review.