Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

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rgprice
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Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by rgprice »

The traditional understanding is that Chronicles is a re-writing and summary of Deuteronomistic history from Genesis to Kings. Is there any reason to think that possibly Chronicles came first and that the Pentateuch is an expansion on Chronicles? Are there reasons why this would be impossible?

It strikes me that Chronicles skips a lot of the material that Gmirkin proposes is dependent on Hellenistic sources.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by neilgodfrey »

rgprice wrote: Wed Jan 11, 2023 5:12 pm The traditional understanding is that Chronicles is a re-writing and summary of Deuteronomistic history from Genesis to Kings. Is there any reason to think that possibly Chronicles came first and that the Pentateuch is an expansion on Chronicles? Are there reasons why this would be impossible?

It strikes me that Chronicles skips a lot of the material that Gmirkin proposes is dependent on Hellenistic sources.
Chronicles downplays the Exodus although it knows of the Exodus narrative. For that reason it is fair to conclude that succeeded the Pentateuch. The Exodus is mentioned but as a chronological marker without theological significance. Even the covenant is not linked to the Exodus. The emphasis is on David (and Abraham) more than Moses. Various explanations I have come across ---

-- that the work is intended as a history of David's dynasty
-- that it is intended as an anti-Samaritan tract
-- that is comes from a context of Levites who were not deported but were said to have remained native to the land
rgprice
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by rgprice »

I wouldn't say that it knows the Exodus narrative. There are a few small things that are mentioned, but of course no details. It could be that those small things, like Moses having tablets, were early parts of the myth that there then expanded upon in the Pentateuch.

However, Chron does make a lot of use of the number twelve and the twelve tribes, so yeah, it probably is derivative of the Pentateuch.

That being said, it is very interesting that it downplays Moses.

Chronicles downplays Moses, Ascension of Isaiah downplays Moses, and of course Paul disregards Moses. The Gnostics of course also take a negative view of Moses. So there certainly seems to have been a fairly deep current of opposition to the role of Moses and the law by more Jews than just Paul.
rgprice
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by rgprice »

Even if Chronicles was created after the Pentateuch, the fact that it ignores essentially all of the material whose dating is most questionable seems relevant. While Chronicles acknowledged Moses it pays little attention to him, nor any attention to Genesis 1-11, other than some genealogies. Might this indicate that the writer(s) of Chronicles were putting the focus on the "actual history" of the Israelites, i.e. the stuff that was part of older traditions for which they had actual documentation outside of the Pentateuch?
rgprice
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by rgprice »

I'd still be interested to hear Russell's take on this. Why does the writer of Chronicles have so little interest in the material that RG proposes comes from Hellenistic sources? Is the writer of Chronicles aware of this fact?
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

rgprice wrote: Tue Feb 07, 2023 3:24 pm I'd still be interested to hear Russell's take on this. Why does the writer of Chronicles have so little interest in the material that RG proposes comes from Hellenistic sources? Is the writer of Chronicles aware of this fact?
My first preliminary observation is that Chronicles appears to date ca. 200 BCE, for arguments I won't go into here. But its late date makes it of relatively little interest to me. Plus, I consider it one of the intrinsically most boring texts in the Hebrew Bible, although its omission of the Exodus tradition makes it a bit more interesting.

But my impression of Chronicles is that it may well rely on genealogical sources tracing royal and priestly lineages that are somewhat independent of the Pentateuchal sources, largely stemming from a priestly community whose temple status and position predated the authorship of the Pentateuch and may not have been that interested in promoting the Pentateuch narrative. It does appear to draw on Kings, but it has a theological agenda that prompted it to rewrite that tradition significantly. But I haven't really studied Chronicles since I worked out its date in the 1990s, reading Sara Japhet and a couple others. I might have some new insights, especially now that I am wrapping up my book Berossus and Kings. Might merit a second read.

If I went back to Chronicles, I would want to have some secondary literature that showed the parallels and (especially) discrepancies of the genealogies and historiography with Genesis-Kings, since I don't have the time or interest in doing this detail work myself. This might help in doing a proper source critical analysis. An important priority would be to locate the authors socially, if possible. One hypothesis I might want to explore is whether Chronicles used a proto-Kings that did not include a history of the northern kingdom. To be clear, this is a hypothesis, not a theory, only a possibility I consider worth exploring. The alternative is that it knew a full version of Kings that included both Israel and Judah, and subtracted or censored out the former.

Again, these are just preliminary thoughts. I might do a read-through of Chronicles some evening with notes.
rgprice
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by rgprice »

My impression from reading Chron is that the writer interestingly has very little interest in the very material that you propose comes from Hellenistic sources. Genesis and Exodus get very little attention. It struck me as a work that may well have been reliant on non-scriptural sources or at least on traditions that may have been more deeply rooted outside of the Pentateuch. I was left wondering if the writer of Chronicles was using a source that may have been shared by the Pentateuch, and could hint at the underlying material that the writers of the Pentateuch had to work from. This would have left them to fill in the gaps with additional material.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

rgprice wrote: Tue Feb 07, 2023 6:07 pm My impression from reading Chron is that the writer interestingly has very little interest in the very material that you propose comes from Hellenistic sources. Genesis and Exodus get very little attention. It struck me as a work that may well have been reliant on non-scriptural sources or at least on traditions that may have been more deeply rooted outside of the Pentateuch. I was left wondering if the writer of Chronicles was using a source that may have been shared by the Pentateuch, and could hint at the underlying material that the writers of the Pentateuch had to work from. This would have left them to fill in the gaps with additional material.
I find it credible that some (i.e. non-fictional) genealogical materials existed outside and conceivably prior to the Pentateuch, since such materials could enhance one's status or profession in various ways in both Hellenistic and non-Hellenistic worlds (e.g. priestly and prophetic families, certainly royal families). For instance in Ezra-Nehemiah one sees the Tobiad family written out of the genealogies to exclude them from positions they had had in the past, so genealogical records sometimes had tangible value. This is worth exploring in connection with Chronicles.

The other quasi-historiographical material I find of doubtful independent value. But I'd be interested in proposals/arguments about specific materials possibly shared with the Pentateuchal authors. Most (but not all) studies I've read have seen have viewed Chronicles as secondary to 1-4 Kings. The pre-Kings material is what is more interesting, though. You might be right about the Chronicler's interests (or lack thereof). The Enoch "community" with their apparent lack of interest in Moses is also curious.
rgprice
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by rgprice »

Of course traditional views of Chronicles see it as purely derivative of the Pentateuch, but those views also think the Pentateuch developed anywhere from the 11th to 5th centuries and recognize that Chronicles is a "much later" work. But if the Pentateuch was produced in the 3rd century then it isn't "much later". Anyway, I haven't spent a ton of time on it myself, but I think its worth delving into more deeply. I can imagine the possibility that Chronicles provides an outline of the material that the Pentateuch writers had to work from, with them taking liberties to invent the rest of the material on their own.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Any case for Chronicles being before the Pentateuch?

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

rgprice wrote: Wed Feb 08, 2023 1:53 am Of course traditional views of Chronicles see it as purely derivative of the Pentateuch, but those views also think the Pentateuch developed anywhere from the 11th to 5th centuries and recognize that Chronicles is a "much later" work. But if the Pentateuch was produced in the 3rd century then it isn't "much later". Anyway, I haven't spent a ton of time on it myself, but I think its worth delving into more deeply. I can imagine the possibility that Chronicles provides an outline of the material that the Pentateuch writers had to work from, with them taking liberties to invent the rest of the material on their own.
Last night I did a bit of digging. One thing I checked up on was the sources for the genealogical material in 1 Chron. 1-9. A good source that comprehensively laid out all the parallels was the following:

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ch ... =en&gbpv=0

One obvious result that jumped out was that Chronicles directly relied on Genesis for all the chronologies involving the patriarchs: the primordial generations in Gen. 5, the Table of Nations (Genesis 10), the lineage of Abraham, the Ishmaelites and Edomites, etc. It just summarized all the genealogical data it could find. It’s clear that the longer stories attached to some of the genealogies were simply omitted, such as at 1 Chron. 1:10, “Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first to become a mighty one on the earth.” The rest of the Nimrod story is omitted. There are other similar examples, such as 1 Chron. 2:7, “And the sons of Carmi; Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the thing accursed,” which shows definite familiarity with the story in Joshua 7.

The genealogies don’t show much interest in Exodus-Deuteronomy, but those books have little genealogical material. They do get quite a bit out of Joshua and 1 and 2 Samuel. Also Ruth, interestingly.

Moses is only mentioned twice in the genealogies (1 Chron. 6:3, 49), incidentally, in connection with Aaron, consistent with the focus on the priesthood, Levites and cultic matters in Chronicles. Moses and the Mosaic law pops up a few times later in Chronicles.

There is also new material on some of the other twelve sons of Israel, much of it taken from the numbering of Israel in Num. 26.

The evidence seems to show that 1 Chronicles simply mined Genesis-Samuel for all the genealogical biblical traditions it could locate and reproduce/summarize. It seems to show a priestly interest in genealogies, but (almost) no new or variant traditions.

Novel material does include the descendants of Judah as well as the descendants of “Solomon” well into the Persian Era, consistent with the favorable promotion of the Davidic royal family throughout Chronicles.

Going beyond 1 Chronicles 9, it has been argued that Chronicles and Samuel both used a common source that is different from our current text of Samuel, as for instance indicated by some variant passages in Samuel in the Dead Sea Scrolls that are closer to certain passages in Chronicles.

Chronicles seems to know the current text of Kings but rewrites it to cut out the kings of Israel and portray even the wicked kings of Judah more favorably (such as when Manasseh! repents). This seems to align with a central aim to promote Judah and the temple at Jerusalem against the Samaritans and Mount Gerizim.

I couldn’t find anything to support a common source underlying the Pentateuch and Chronicles.
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