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Book of Chronicles — what is it actually?

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sestir
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Book of Chronicles — what is it actually?

Postby sestir » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:03 am

according as I did exhort thee to remain in Ephesus — I going on to Macedonia — that thou mightest charge certain not to teach any other thing, nor to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, that cause questions rather than the building up of God that is in faith
Admittedly, the genealogies in Chronicles are not endless. They end after chapter 9 and are followed by something which is not necessarily fables.

In Tanakh the book was last of khetubim in most mss even though it seems mostly related to Samuel & Kings. In Septuagint mss it had its current place after Kings but there, it is called Παραλειπομενων — part pl pres mp masc/fem/neut gen of παραλειπω — omit/leave out/neglect, that is omitted stuff. So I was struck by this hypothesis:
Assumption 1: The OT text was influenced by an effort to standardize the text at some point before the Septuagint translation was made.
Assumption 2: Several scribes disagreed with the officially sanctioned text.
Assumption 3: Scribes wanted to produce at least two different kinds of scrolls — one kind for consumers and one for preservation of the text (e.g. Origen's Hexapla).

In order to handle this situation a scribe who produced a collection of scrolls to serve as exemplars would note false readings in a separate book, so that future scribes could restore the original text when the political situation allowed. So, Chronicles is a list of things that were falsely included in various biblical books, particularly Samuel & Kings.
If this hypothesis is true, it would mean that a substantial share of the content of todays bibles is crap. Holy crap.
Since I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere, or any similar opinion, I would like to hear some arguments against it from the Internet population before I make up my mind.

My arguments in favour of Chronicles' canonicity:
܀ Chronicles contain a lot of references to other scriptures. It would be unlike a commission of hypocrites to cite sources when they don't have to. (1 Chr 9:1; 24:6; 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr 13:22; 16:11; 20:34; 21:12; 25:26; 26:22; 27:7; 33:18; 35:27.)

܀ Rashi made a commentary to Chronicles.

܀ Mat 23:25 seems to allude to 2 Chr 24:20-22.


My arguments in favour of Chronicles being a list of false readings:
- It contradicts stories in Kings. Did Saul throw himself on his sword (1 Chr 10:4 canceling 1 Sam 31:4) or was he stabbed by an Amalekite (2 Sam 1:8-10)?

- Jerobeam's army has 800,000 men (Chr 13:3) and other exagregations that one would expect from oral tradition.

- Why would the history of the kings be repeated — first in Kings and then in Chronicles (and then again in Jeremiah)?

- There is only one tiny fragment of Chronicles among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

- Philostorgius mentioned that Wulfila translated all the books of the OT except that of Kings. Since the Gothic translation was literal and serious, probably there is a good reason for omitting it (or some of it).


What do you say?

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Re: Book of Chronicles — what is it actually?

Postby Swalchy » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:38 am

Well before the question of whether Chronicles should be considered "Canon" can be assessed in full, one needs to determine what the original version of Samuel-Kings was: as there're more than a few differences between the Greek Septuagint Samuel-Kings and that of the Masoretic Hebrew Samuel-Kings, before a comparison with Chronicles can be made, the original version of Samuel-Kings needs to be addressed.

The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit a version of Samuel that closely resembles the Greek Septuagint in numerous passages, to quote the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible:
These Samuel manuscripts, while containing some errors, also preserve a large number of original or superior readings that help correct errors in the traditional Masoretic Text. For proper perspective, it should be pointed out that the textual form of 4QSamb is much closer than the Masoretic Text to the text from which the Septuagint was translated. Similarly 4QSama, while showing many agreements with the Septuagint in contrast to the Masoretic Text, is the type of Samuel manuscript that the author of Chronicles used in composing that book. - pg. 213

This means that the author of Chronicles had access to a source that differed to what came to be the Hebrew version of Samuel that we have from the 10th Century CE.

Plus as mentioned above, there has at this moment only been one fragment of Chronicles identified among the Dead Sea Scrolls; and yet this fragment contains differences from the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text. Who knows what editing of Chronicles has been done from its initial penning: if the Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts of Samuel and Kings are anything to go by, then there's a good chance that the Chronicles we have access to is not that originally composed.

To quote the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible again concerning this:
Despite the limited scope of text on most fragments, however, there are enough indications of text significantly divergent from the traditional Masoretic Text to suggest that the text of Kings was pluriform in antiquity, just as the text of Samuel has been demonstrated to be...[m]oreover, an additional clue near the end of 1 Kings 7 (see note at 7:25–27) suggests that Kings may have had an expanded text on which the author of Chronicles based his composition. Though the evidence is slight, it tends to confirm that the ancient text of Samuel-Kings that the Jewish author of Chronicles used was not the Masoretic Text but one similar to those documented at Qumran. - pg. 260

This also means that the Greek Septuagint versions of Books should be considered more "weighty" than the Masoretic Hebrew, even if the Greek Septuagint is a translation and may differ quite significantly from the traditional Hebrew books :)
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Re: Book of Chronicles — what is it actually?

Postby sestir » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:33 pm

If I understand you right, since textual criticism can take us back to just around when LXX was made (~200BC) and since my hypothesis is about what happened to the text around 450 BC, too much would have happened in between to make the hypothesis interesting or falsifiable.

1 Samuel 20 and Jonathan's communication with David could be an example of what disturbs me.
and on the third day thou dost certainly come down, and hast come in unto the place where thou wast hidden in the day of the work, and hast remained near the stone Ezel. ‘And I shoot three of the arrows at the side, sending out for myself at a mark; and lo, I send the youth: Go, find the arrows. If I at all say to the youth, Lo, the arrows [are] on this side of thee — take them, — then come thou, for peace [is] for thee, and there is nothing; Jehovah liveth. And if thus I say to the young man, Lo, the arrows [are] beyond thee, — go, for Jehovah hath sent thee away; as to the thing which we have spoken, I and thou, lo, Jehovah [is] between me and thee — unto the age.’
This makes me think that Jonathan expects to not be able to go there alone, even though he is alone (with David) in that place when he says the above (they are on vacation till the new moon — v18). Then, after realizing that Saul really wants to kill David:
And it cometh to pass in the morning, that Jonathan goeth out into the field for the appointment with David, and a little youth [is] with him. And he saith to his youth, ‘Run, find, I pray thee, the arrows which I am shooting;’ the youth is running, and he hath shot the arrow, causing [it] to pass over him. And the youth cometh unto the place of the arrow which Jonathan hath shot, and Jonathan calleth after the youth, and saith, ‘Is not the arrow beyond thee?’ and Jonathan calleth after the youth, ‘Speed, haste, stand not;’ and Jonathan’s youth gathereth the arrows, and cometh unto his lord. And the youth hath not known anything, only Jonathan and David knew the word. And Jonathan giveth his weapons unto the youth whom he hath, and saith to him, ‘Go, carry into the city.’ The youth hath gone, and David hath risen from Ezel, at the south, and falleth on his face to the earth, and boweth himself three times, and they kiss one another, and they weep one with another, till David exerted himself; and Jonathan saith to David, ‘Go in peace, in that we have sworn — we two — in the name of Jehovah, saying, Jehovah is between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed — unto the age;’ and he riseth and goeth; and Jonathan hath gone in to the city.
And David cometh in to Nob, unto Ahimelech the priest, and Ahimelech trembleth ...
Reading only the black text makes more sense to me. The purple looks like interpolation or extrapolation from either 20:23 or 23:18 and the olive text should be impossible because Jonathan couldn't get rid of his servant.

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Re: Book of Chronicles — what is it actually?

Postby Swalchy » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:11 am

If I understand you right, since textual criticism can take us back to just around when LXX was made (~200BC) and since my hypothesis is about what happened to the text around 450 BC, too much would have happened in between to make the hypothesis interesting or falsifiable.
More or less. However I would say it is an interesting hypothesis, but it hinges on there being a specific critical text of Samuel and Kings to be compared to 1 and 2 Chronicles, in order to determine whether 1 & 2 Chronicles is concerning with false readings.

You'd have to provide your own critical text of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles to start with, before you could go further into your hypothesis.
1 Samuel 20 and Jonathan's communication with David could be an example of what disturbs me...
I'm afraid I'm not too sure about what it is about the passage that concerns you.

From what I can it's that Jonathan needed an excuse to go and give a warning to David concerning Saul, and so devised that he'd go out and shoot arrows for his servant to pick up, whilst Jonathan could give a cryptic message to David without causing the servant boy to be suspicious. So when Jonathan returned to the city not far behind the servant, then it couldn't be given away that Jonathan had given David a warning to leave.

Is the issue that there shouldn't've been enough time for Jonathan and David to meet after the servant had disappeared? The LXX, Masoretic and DSS all have 20:35-41 as it is, so what this is engaging in is Higher Criticism; that's determining what can be considered interpolations based on internal and external evidence. :)
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Re: Book of Chronicles — what is it actually?

Postby sestir » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:23 pm

Is the issue that there shouldn't've been enough time for Jonathan and David to meet after the servant had disappeared?
My thinking is, if it was so easy for Jonathan just to send away his servant and anybody else of the Court who had joined the trip, then he and David wouldn't have needed to develop a preshared key for cryptographic archery. But I admit that they may have used it as a plan B.
You'd have to provide your own critical text of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles to start with, before you could go further into your hypothesis.
[...]
The LXX, Masoretic and DSS all have 20:35-41 as it is, so what this is engaging in is Higher Criticism; that's determining what can be considered interpolations based on internal and external evidence. :)
I too was warned a lot against "higher textual criticism" when I was a member of a supposedly Christian denomination. On the other hand, seeing how historians treat classical and hellenistic roman and greek historical writings — their content is usually assumed to be fiction unless supported by something else like archeology — I feel like we are missing the balanced middle ground. Samuel-Kings-Chronicles is so holy that sometimes we cannot question it but to others it is crap that cannot even be used to write history. So, it seems appropriate to me to use higher textual criticism with care to evaluate the hypothesis, and then we'll see. ;)

To take the TC to a lower level, there is a curious vocalization in the masoretic text where, in 1 Samuel 20:38, the servant returns to the lords in some kind of plural.
alep-adonaiw.png
alep-adonaiw.png (60.27 KiB) Viewed 3426 times
The usual explanation is it's a majestic plural, but I wonder if that is not even more speculative than to conclude that verses 40-42 should be ripped out. (?)

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Re: Book of Chronicles — what is it actually?

Postby Swalchy » Fri Nov 13, 2015 6:13 pm

Interesting speculation, but there are over 30 instances of אדניו in scripture that refer to "his master" and not "his masters" - Gen 24:9, 10 (x2), 39:2, 3, 7, 8, 16, 19, 40:7; Exod 21:4, 6 (x2); Deut 23:16 (x2)... etc., etc.

I could only find one instance that actually follows the usual Hebrew grammar rules and has אדנו as referring to "his master" - Prov 30:10

There are very few instances that I've found (only three more atm other than Prov 30:10: Exo 34:23; Josh 3:11, 13) where 'adon follows conventional Hebrew grammar and has אדון as referring to the singular - the rest of the time אדני is used as the singular.

And a final remark: the usual ending for masculine nouns in the plural is a suffixed ים - this again is only used sparingly for אדון, with אדנים only appearing a grand total of 21 times in Scripture, and 15 of these are references to "bases" - Exo 26:19, 21, 25, 36:24, 26, 30, 38:27; it's also the form behind the "lords" bit of "the Lord of lords" (אדני האדנים - Deut 10:17, Psa 136:3).
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