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Friday Bible Blogging - 1 Chronicles 1 to 1 Chronicles 10

This entry is part of a series. For a listing of all entries in the series, go to the Index. Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

BibleThis week's entry marks a new milestone in this series. Assuming 1392 chapters in the Bible (it's actually a bit complicated, depending on what chapters and even what books you're going to include - see my update from 2013-03-22 to the Introduction to this series for a short discussion), and going by chapter count instead of verse count or word count, Chapter 10 of 1 Chronicles marks the 1/4 point of the Bible - 25% of the way through. It's taken me a little less than a year, so I have a little less than three years left to go, assuming I keep motivated enough to finish. To tell the truth, it's a bigger project than I anticipated. It's not so hard to read the 10 chapters a week, but it gets just a little tougher to go back and read all the footnotes in the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB). And then it's even more of a chore to write the weekly blog entries. However, I believe that the additional chore of the blog entries is part of what's kept me going this long. Without that sense of obligation, I fear I might have already given up, or at least abandoned reading the footnotes and read merely the text itself, which wouldn't be nearly as informative.

A somewhat surprising aspect is the way this has cut into my other reading. It's not that I devote a tremendous amount of time each week to reading the Bible and don't have any time left for other books. Rather, when I have a bit of spare time, instead of picking up a good book that I'd enjoy reading and get sucked into, I feel obligated to catch up on my Bible reading. So, I'll either procrastinate and watch TV instead, or read just enough to get caught up and then feel burnt out on reading. In effect, I devote less time overall to reading now than I did when I wasn't reading the Bible, and my yearly book "consumption" has suffered noticeably. Anyway, on to the meat of this week's entry...

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As with several other books, 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one book, and later broken up into two books with the Greek translation, probably to keep the scrolls to a more manageable size for handling. Chronicles was written later than all the other books that have preceded it. To a large extent, it's a rather condensed summary of those other books. For the earliest history, much of the focus of Chronicles is on the genealogy rather than the narrative. For example, the Noachian Flood isn't discussed at all. Skimming ahead (and reading the NOAB and Wikipedia), it appears that later chapters that cover the same material as Samuel and Kings will focus a bit more on the narrative, but will still include quite a bit of genealogy.

While Chronicles is largely similar to those earlier books and seems to have used them as source material, it's not entirely consistent with them. However, given the tedious nature of the genealogy sections and the shear number of discrepancies, I'm not going to discuss them here. I've already discussed a few of these discrepancies in previous entries, and that's the extent of the coverage I'll give them. For anyone interested in seeing all these discrepancies, just skim through the sidebar of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible for 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles.

One aspect of the geneaologies worthy of note is that certain portions are more extensive than those from previous books. Those books focused on the priests and kings, and the line of David in particular. Chronicles was much more inclusive of all of the tribes of Israel. However, when it came to the kings themselves, Chronicles focused on Judah, without much emphasis on Israel.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 1

This entire chapter was extremely boring, being just one long list of genealogy. As an example, here's how the chapter opened.

1 Adam, Seth, Enosh; 2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared; 3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; 4 Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

5 The descendants of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 6 The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Diphath, and Togarmah. 7 The descendants of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.

It lasted for 53 verses and closed with the clans of Edom.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 was just as bad - 55 verses altogether, starting with the sons of Israel, and closing with "the Kenites who came from Hammath, father of the house of Rechab."


1 Chronicles, Chapter 3

This chapter was just as boring as the first two, but thankfully only about half as long at 24 verses.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 4

Another boring genealogy chapter. This one at least had a handful more extra details, a sentence or two here and there. For example, "They journeyed to the entrance of Gedor, to the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks, 40 where they found rich, good pasture, and the land was very broad, quiet, and peaceful; for the former inhabitants there belonged to Ham."


1 Chronicles, Chapter 5

More genealogy with just a handful of details, starting with "The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel" and closing with "the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh" being carried off by the King of Assyria.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 6

More of the same, only longer - 81 verses.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 7

And yet more of the same.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 8

And even more.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 9

And still more. This time, it was post-Babylonian exile, so it was a time period not yet covered in the previous books. And this time it came with added bonus tedium, focusing on who was in charge of what accessories in the temple.


1 Chronicles, Chapter 10

Finally, a break. Chapter 10 described Saul's death, how the Philistines hung his head in the temple of Dagon, and how the people of Jabesh-gilead rescued his remains. As an example of the differences between this book and earlier ones, notice that this chapter described Saul's head being hung in the temple of Dagon, and makes no mention of his body except for the fact that it was rescued. But 1 Samuel 31 only says that Saul's head was cut off without describing what happened to it from there, but specifically mentioned that his body was fastened to the wall of Beth-shan. Now, this isn't exactly a discrepancy per se, but it is odd that different details were included in the different books.

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Man oh man - that was probably the longest consecutive stretch of such boring, tedious material that I've read so far. It may have been valuable for being such a concise summary of genealogies, but it was about as exciting as reading a phone book.

Comparing this book to previous books makes it rather clear that the Bible isn't some cohesive whole. If it actually had been an inspired work from one source, there'd be no reason for the type of repetition between this book and previous books, or the weird splitting up of details like those discussed above for Saul's death. But, if you assume that these were works of different people throughout history, all of these books make more sense. Chronicles works much better as a standalone work, providing a summary of other works that that scribe would have known about.


New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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