About This Blog

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"A Commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles" (Eugene H. Merrill)

TITLE: A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (Kregel Exegetical Library)
AUTHOR: Eugene H. Merrill
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015, (640 pages).

What can we make of the two books of Chronicles in the Bible? Are they merely re-telling the story of the historical exploits of Israel? Is the author simply copying the historical narrative of the writers of Kings and Samuel? These questions and more are tackled in this very comprehensive exegetical commentary on two Old Testament books. The underlying conviction in this volume is that the inspired writer is uniquely called to remember the history of Israel and how this plays into the unfolding biblical drama of God's greater plan for salvation.

Eugene H. Merrill is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and has previously written a commentary of Chronicles under the Lamplighter publishing label. This latest commentary not only updates the original, but includes greater theological content and exegetical insights. With meticulous care, Merrill begins by explaining what the names "chronicles" mean. In fact, the Greek LXX calls chronicles as "things left out" while the Latin Vulgate renders the title as "chronichon" from which we get our english titles for the two books. It is set from as early as 530 BC to as late as early 4th Century. It is a book about political re-establishment, social reforms, religious reforms, and also a powerful glimpse and reiteration of God's bigger plan for salvation. Apart from the discussion on the authorship of the book, there are useful insights pertaining to the canonical placement of the book; the literary forms; genre description; the sources and historiography; the compositional structure; textual criticism; an overview of major studies; the theology of the book; analytical outlines; and of course the main body which is the commentary itself.

Principle theological theses include the Davidic restoration and rule; the renewing of the everlasting covenant; and the restoration of the temple. Merrill believes that even to this day, Israel has that special place in the eyes of God, just like the Old Testament days. The central character is David and the book discusses how God blesses Israel through David. Merrill also summarizes some of the major studies of Chronicles to entice advanced readers to do more research and studies if needed.

Chapter One begins with the genealogies of the various family groups in which the author skillfully and deliberately shows readers that there is a general direction that point us to the people of Israel and how God's overall plan uses this people group as a way to bless others. The rest of the commentary flows according to the major divisions as follows:
  1. The Genealogies (1 Chronicles 1:1 - 9:44)
  2. The Rise of David (1 Chronicles 10:1 - 14:47)
  3. The Exploits of David (1 Chronicles 15:1-21:30)
  4. The Preparations for Royal Succession (1 Chronicles 22:1 - 29:30)
  5. The Reign of Solomon (2 Chronicles 1:1 - 9:31)
  6. David's Dynasty from Rehoboam to Jehoram (2 Chronicles 10:1 - 21:3)
  7. David's Dynasty from Jehoram to Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 21:4 - 28:27)
  8. The Reign of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:1 - 32:33)
  9. David's Dynasty from Manasseh to the Decree of Cyrus (2 Chronicles 33:1 - 36:23)
The commentary uses the following framework:
  1. Chapter Outline
  2. Theological Principles
  3. The NIV Translation
  4. Text-Critical Notations
  5. Exegesis and Exposition
  6. With miscellaneous charts, extensive footnotes, illustrations, and excurses where appropriate.
There are four reasons why I like this book. First, it is comprehensive and orderly. Although it is not exactly verse-by-verse, it covers the entire books of Chronicles. I am impressed by the amount of material and knowledge the author has. From the extensive footnotes to the analysis of the sources, every paragraph is packed with information. There are bracketed Hebrew words for word study. There is information about the individual characters. There are comparisons between the Hebrew and the NIV translations, which is particularly helpful for readers. I find it extremely helpful when Merrill gives us insights into the original writer's intention.

Second, there is a general theological thrust that is done with careful exegesis and sensitivity to the contexts. At the beginning of each chapter is a theological overview of the passage. This keeps us mindful that while we are digging deep into these two Old Testament books, we do not forget that there is an overarching theme of God's salvation and a link back to the other Old Testament books as well as New Testament promises. The analytical outline helps readers to appreciate the flow of the commentary via a big idea strategy. There are constant reminders of the theology of the passage. I like the comparison of the chronicler with the historical narratives in Samuel and Kings.

Third, the commentary is written with applications provided for us. This is helpful for those of us who are teachers or preachers. The outline prepares us for what is to come, giving us a big idea that we can easily summarize for our audience. The exegesis and exposition fills in much details that illumines the text, which gives teachers a chance to compare notes after they have done their own self-study. The charts enable us to compare Chronicles with other books in the Old Testament. In fact, I find charts and illustrations very powerful teaching tools.

Fourth, the bibliography is one of the most comprehensive I have seen for 1 and 2 Chronicles. This makes this commentary a good primer for anyone considering advanced work on Chronicles. Anyone not sure of how to begin any study of 1 and 2 Chronicles should begin with this.

This commentary is comprehensive, theologically conservative, and packed with scholarship brilliance. Readers who do not have any working knowledge of Hebrew should not feel left out. There is ample English translations and guides in the commentary to alleviate any concerns. The downside is that the Hebrew words had no transliteration, which means those who do not know Hebrew cannot pronounce the words. This should not be too much of a barrier as I find this commentary a very accessible guide for readers trained in English.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Academic in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment