The Prophetic Speeches In Chronicles Speculation, Revelation, And Ancient Historiography -- By: Kent Sparks

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 09:1 (NA 1999)
Article: The Prophetic Speeches In Chronicles Speculation, Revelation, And Ancient Historiography
Author: Kent Sparks

The Prophetic Speeches In Chronicles Speculation, Revelation, And Ancient Historiography

Kent Sparks

Providence Baptist Church
Raleigh, North Carolina

Scholars have for some time recognized that the Chronicler’s prophetic speeches are his own compositions rather than materials that he has culled from source materials. The fictive nature of these speeches raises important questions regarding both the nature of Hebrew historiography and also the nature of the Chronicler’s work as scripture. When the Chroniclers use of speeches is compared to a similar use of speeches in Greek historiography, it becomes clear that his fictive contributions to the history are a legitimate means to bring his theological Tendenz to bear on the narrative. A close reading of the speeches also shows that their theology has been exegetically derived from the Chronicler’s canonical texts.

Key words: Chronicles, Chronicler, Hebrew historiography, Greek historiography, Herodotus, Thucydides

Ancient Hebrew historiography has been an important topic for some time, and the recent work of J. Van Seters generated a good bit of discussion when he suggested the likelihood, now followed by an increasing number of scholars, that the work of the Deuteronomistic Historian not only reflects a Tendenz but is more properly viewed, in many respects, as fictional.1 The debate along these lines has been exacerbated by the contention from literary criticism that all historiography is tendentious, not because all authors are unscrupulous, but because human perceptions necessarily give rise to fictive narratives.2

This has prompted not only a number of responses from scholarship in general but also, and happily, from those of the evangelical confessional community.3 Among these, the one that I have appreciated the most is the work of V. P. Long, and it is his work that serves as the suitable point of departure for my discussion.4

V. Philips Long, The Art Of Biblical History

Long begins his work with an illustration: two brothers find a painting among their deceased grandmother’s things and so set about to interpret it. The painting is of “a young girl sitting before a piano, atop which was an embroidered cloth. On the cloth lay cut roses, garden gloves, shears. Leaning against the piano stool was a field hockey stick and at its base a basketball.” Curiously, the girl also appeared to have, believe it or not, a second thumb on her right hand. ...

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