History, Literature and Theology in the Book of Chronicles presents a new way of approaching this key biblical text, arguing that the Book employs both multiple viewpoints and the knowledge of the past held by its intended readership to reshape social memory and reinforce the authority of God. The Book of Chronicles communicates to its intended readership a theological worldview built around multiple, partial perspectives which inform and balance each other. This is a worldview which emphasizes the limitations of all human knowledge, even of theologically "proper" knowledge. When Chronicles presents the past as explainable it also affirms that those who inhabited it could not predict the future. And, despite expanding an "explainable" past, the Book deliberately frames some of YHWH's actions - crucial events in Israel's social memory - as unexplainable in human terms. The Book serves to rationalise divinely ordained, prescriptive behaviour through its emphasis on the impossibility of adequate human understanding of a past, present and future governed by YHWH.
Ehud Ben Zvi is a professor (History & Classics, and Religious Studies) at the University of Alberta. A former president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, his publications include, Hosea (forthcoming, 2005); Signs of Jonah: Reading and Rereading in Ancient Yehud (2003); Micah (2000) and A Historical-Critical Study of The Book of Obadiah (1996) as well as many articles on the historical books of the Hebrew Bible in which he explores the ways in which ancient Israelites construed their past and the significance of these images of the past for them. He is also a co-author of Readings in Biblical Hebrew. An Intermediate Textbook (1993).
"Ben Zvi's readings of individual passages are sensitive, and his sense of the overall themes and ideological construction of Chronicles is acute." - The Bible and Critical Theory "By approaching Chronicles through three different lenses - the historical, the theological, and the literary - Zvi makes the case that Chronicles is best understood by valuing the insights derived from each lens in proportion to those derived from the other lenses, or, in other words, by balancing the insights from each lens and allowing them to inform and enhance each other... each makes a contribution and, taken together, the understanding produced is greater than the sum of their parts. - the same is true for other biblical books as well, that units within a book, even seemingly contradictory parts, inform and balance one another, and yield the greatest understanding when they are considered not independently of each other but from an inclusive perspective." - Biblical Interpretation