Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 14:2 (May 1952)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Edwin R. Thiele: The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. The University of Chicago Press. 1951. xxi, 298. $6.00.

Old Testament chronology has occupied the minds of scholars from the pre-Christian era to the present day. And it is altogether natural that this should be so, for “chronology is the backbone of history”; it is “the fixed central core around which the events of nations must be correctly grouped before they may assume their exact positions in history and before their mutual relationships may be properly understood (p. 1). Without a sound Biblical chronology, we cannot correctly integrate the numerous details of the Old Testament writings into each other; nor can we properly fit the events of the Old Testament record into those of the Near Eastern world, with the inevitable result that we fail to gain a correct and thorough understanding of the vital messages of the Old Testament.

The establishment of the correct chronology of any ancient Near Eastern nation is beset with difficulties. But the Old Testament writers seem to have bequeathed a special measure of chronological problems to posterity. Again and again the Biblical records appear to be in hopeless contradiction with one another and with the chronology of the neighboring states. In spite of centuries of research, Old Testament chronology has continued in a state of almost hopeless confusion. As a result, there are those who view the Old Testament chronological materials with open derision, while others look askance upon the chronology of the nations surrounding Judah and Israel.

The book under review avoids both of these extremes, treating all chronological evidence, the Biblical and the secular alike, with due respect and meticulous care. By an unbiased and thoroughly scholarly examination of all available chronological data and by the application of sound logic the author succeeds, with hardly any emendations, in establishing a chronology which is beautifully consistent with itself and which is in full harmony with the chronological patterns of the heathen nations.

The book confines itself to a study of the chronology of the kings of Judah and Israel. The author has wisely chosen this period, for “it is this period that is of greatest importance in Hebrew history, it is here that the most trying problems of Biblical chronology occur”, and “it is here

that the largest amount of chronological material, both Biblical and secular, is found” (p. 5).

In the first two chapters the author states the vexing problems of Old Testament chronology and sets forth the fundamental principles of the chronological systems employed by the Hebrew scribes ...

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