A revised version of OT history. The two books of Chronicles (in Hebrew: The Annals, were probably the work of a community or a guild), intended as an authoritative account of how things were and are and should be, derive their name from a remark of the Latin Father Jerome (d. 420 CE) that they are ‘a chronicle of the whole of sacred history’. Indeed, they are a kind of commentary on the books of the OT from Genesis to the Fall of Jerusalem—and beyond, if the books of Nehemiah and Ezra, which come from the same circle, are to be included. In that case the chronicler goes on beyond the Exile up to the rebuilding of the Temple under Zerubbabel in the 6th cent. BCE and the laws, a century later, of Nehemiah and Ezra.
It is nevertheless a history limited by its refusal to recount its course in the northern kingdom. For the Chronicler’s mandate is with the Davidic monarchy, and the Temple in Jerusalem and its worship as the way of salvation. The sources used are the books of Samuel and Kings, and possibly Mic. 5: 1; but the scandal of David’s seduction of Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11) is omitted: for would it not seem inconsistent with the presentation of King David’s public actions as inspired by Yahweh, on whose throne as his viceregent he is seated? As for the northern kings, they are usurpers (2 Chron. 10: 19), and the southern kings can thus appropriate the title ‘of Israel’ (2 Chron. 6: 6).
In the Hebrew Bible 1 and 2 Chronicles form a single volume and are called ‘the things of the days’ (history), but in the LXX, where they are now two volumes, the title is the ‘paralipomena’, ‘the things left out’, and ‘1 and 2 Paralipomena’ is the title given to the books in older Roman Catholic translations. The implication is that 1 and 2 Chronicles are giving supplementary information not contained in the other books. But the main purpose of the work is to encourage Jews of the Persian period (4th cent. BCE) to maintain faithful worship in the Temple.
The genealogies of the first nine chapters (Adam to Saul) are important as a theological demonstration of how God’s purpose has been carried on from generation to generation. Abraham and Moses in this story receive scant attention compared with David and Solomon. For they are the kings responsible for the Temple and its glory—David for conceiving the idea and leaving the finance, Solomon for the execution. These two kings are celebrated as beyond criticism, and their less attractive deeds as recorded in the books of Samuel and Kings are suppressed by this revisionist. Because so much of Samuel and Kings is repeated in Chronicles the author’s point of view is all the clearer by reason of the divergence from his predecessors. He is interested above all in the religious cult at Jerusalem (he ignores the apostasy of the northern kingdom) and expands the earlier accounts of the reforming kings of Judah (such as Josiah). Although 2 Chronicles ends with the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (2 Chron. 36: 15–21), there is appended an assurance (36: 22–3): all is not lost! And of this the continuation in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is the proof.