The End Of The Bible? The Position Of Chronicles In The Canon -- By: Edmon L. Gallagher

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 65:2 (NA 2014)
Article: The End Of The Bible? The Position Of Chronicles In The Canon
Author: Edmon L. Gallagher


The End Of The Bible?
The Position Of Chronicles In The Canon

Edmon L. Gallagher

([email protected])

Summary

Scholars have argued for the originality of the position of Chronicles at the end of the canon based on both external and internal considerations. As for the latter, various ‘closure phenomena’ allegedly indicate that Chronicles either was written for the purpose of concluding the scriptural canon or was redacted for that purpose. The external evidence includes the Talmudic order of books (b. Bava Batra 14b), various Masoretic manuscripts, and a passage from the Gospels (Matt. 23:35 // Luke 11:51). This paper argues that while Chronicles surely forms an appropriate conclusion to the Bible, the evidence to hand does not demonstrate that it actually took up its place at the end of the Bible before the rabbinic period.

1. Introduction

The Hebrew Bible ends with Chronicles, for now, anyway. So it is in the standard scholarly edition, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, and in many critical introductions to Hebrew scripture.1 So it has been in every major printed edition of the Hebrew Bible since the fifteenth

century.2 However, this will not be the case for the next edition, Biblia Hebraica Quinta, which will place Chronicles at the head of the third section of the Hebrew Bible, the Ketuvim, rather than its end. In this way, BHQ will fully conform to the order of its base text, the Leningrad Codex B19a, which, along with many Masoretic manuscripts, presents a sequence of books different from what has become traditional for printed Hebrew Bibles.3 Soon Chronicles will no longer be at the end of the Hebrew Bible, at least the one most commonly used by scholars. This repositioning of Chronicles might seem a rather inconsequential development, but several scholars have urged recently that the placement of Chronicles at the end of the Bible constituted a very early feature of the canon, possibly reflecting an ‘original’ sequence. This paper will carefully examine this view, seeking to demonstrate the tendentiousness of the arguments used in its support and that the evidence cannot show that Chronicles definitely took up its place at the end of the Bible before the rabbinic period.

Scholars advocating the concluding position of Chronicles promote varying notions of what this means, but they divide roughly between those who emphasise the ext...

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