1 Chronicles 21:1 A Study In Inter-Biblical Interpretation -- By: John H. Sailhamer

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 10:1 (Spring 1989)
Article: 1 Chronicles 21:1 A Study In Inter-Biblical Interpretation
Author: John H. Sailhamer

1 Chronicles 21:1
A Study In Inter-Biblical Interpretation

John H. Sailhamer


The composition of the OT was a long and hermeneutically rich process. Books were written (e.g., the Pentateuch), supplemented (e.g., Deut 34:10ff), exegeted (e.g., Nehemiah 9; Psalm 8; Hosea 12:5) applied (e.g., the prophetic books), borrowed (Chronicles) and developed (Daniel 9). Each one of these tasks involved a full set of principles and procedures for understanding and interpreting texts. The whole of the growing context as well as each of the specific contexts for the individual books played a decisive role in the shaping and final articulation of the message of the OT. This process of interpretation and adaptation of Scripture did not stop with the completion of the OT. For Christians, at least, it continued into the first century. Such a situation presses on us the responsibility of looking far beyond first century Judaism for our context of understanding the NT’s use of the Old. The NT’s reading of the Old is not the beginning of a way of reading the Hebrew Scriptures, but the end (τέλος). That is, it is the end of a long process of exegesis and interpretation of Scripture. Thus before we can answer the question of the NT’s use of the Old, we must address the question of the OT’s use of the Old.

The Book of Chronicles offers an interesting opportunity to address the question of inter-biblical interpretation in the OT. In large measure its sources are available to us today much the same as they were to its original author. We can, thus, follow the Chronicler in his task of composition, comparing his sources before and after they entered his work. It is relatively certain that the primary sources of the Book of Chronicles were the Pentateuch and the historical books, Joshua - Kings.1 There may also have been other non-canonical texts from which he drew. It is well-known, for example, that he alludes to other sources such as “the words of Samuel the seer,” the “words of Nathan the prophet,” and the “words of Gad the visionary” (1 Chr 29:29).2 It can be said that in

comparing the Book of Chronicles with its earlier canonical sources, the Chronicler did not attempt to create a totally new literary piece. He often seems content merely with reproducing major sect...

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