Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A reading chronicle

I started reading the Bible straight through on December 1, and as of today have read 353 chapters, 30% of the total, at a mean rate of 6.7 chapters per day (yes, I made a spreadsheet to keep track of my Bible reading). I'm finding it a very helpful exercise, for several reasons:
  • By reading from start to finish, the overarching narrative of the Bible is more clear - God is good and glorious and always accomplishes His will; humans' obedience is fleeting at best; there is a real groaning for ultimate salvation that doesn't depend on human achievements.
  • There are still portions of Scripture I know I've never read, and probably lots more I've missed - reading the whole Bible means that I know I will have read all of God's word at least once (is this legalistic?).
  • Keeping up a good pace means that I don't get bogged down - obviously this means I'm not doing in-depth study, but for a temporary period it seems to work.
If you do the addition you'll see that I'm currently in 1 Chronicles. To be honest, I've struggled to see the purpose of this book and its sequel. Having read through the Books of Moses and the history of Israel from Johsua to Zedekiah it seems incredible that there should be two books of mostly repetition, especially given the cost of publishing in the Iron Age.

A reliable commentary says that Chronicles was probably written by the same man who wrote Ezra and Nehemiah, aptly known as "the Chronicler". Obviously they date from later than Samuel & Kings, because the historical narrative goes further. If he wrote Chronicles at the end of the exile, there would have been much wooping and cheering by the rivers of Babylon as the remnant returned home. This must be the explanation for the TEN CHAPTERS of genealogy at the start of the book... they really knew how to have fun back then eh!

(Yes, genealogy for the Jews was crucial to their culture, history, politics, religion, geography, anthropology and faith. In all honesty though it's not the most inspiring portion of the Bible.)

1 comment:

Si Hollett said...

The BST by Michael Wilcock makes Chronicles better.

The first 9 chapters is full of things - Er and Achar show that birth in Israel and circumcision doesn't guarantee good standing before God (echoed in Romans 9) and "the inclusion of Bathsua and Tamar show that neither pagan background nor an incestuous relationship in itself precludes membership of that people" - that's just 5 verses of the big long list!

You have the focus on Levi and the priests and the paths to kings - Benjamin and Judah - especially Judah. It keeps focussing on kings and priests throughout - it's on a Messiah hunt (as the Messiah merges kingly and priestly roles). Judah comes first after Israel is mentioned, as inheritor of the promise of the Messiah from his descendants.

Chronicles is better placed, as it is in the Hebrew Bible, at the end of the Old Testament, rather than not after Samuel/Kings - not only would you have had a big gap before covering the same ground, Chronicles is a summary of the whole OT and works well as a conclusion.