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ISSN 0045-0308

BOOK REVIEW  Published in Volume 54, 2006

ISAAC KALIMI, The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles (Winona Lakes, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2005). Pp. xiv+473. $US44.50.

An earlier edition of The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles appeared in Hebrew in 2000. According to the Preface of the present volume, several reviewers expressed the hope that the Hebrew edition would be translated into English. This hope has been fulfilled, but some updating, expansions and revisions have been made, thus improving on the original work.

The main objectives of The Reshaping of Ancient History in Chronicles are indicated by Isaac Kalimi on p. 2. They can be summarised as follows: (1) The identification of the literary and historiographical forms in which the Chronicler presents material derived from the parallel texts of Samuel–Kings; (2) How such forms are used in the material exclusive to Chronicles; (3) The place and uniqueness of these forms in biblical literature and historiography in general; (4) An attempt to understand why the Chronicler made literary and historiographical changes and the consequent significance for the interpretation of the text. Before considering the kinds of changes the Chronicler makes to his sources, Kalimi reviews the state of research on the relationship between Samuel–Kings and Chronicles and demonstrates that there is not a single view on this. He attributes the different opinions to the lack of a comprehensive study of the differences between the two complexes. He acknowledges that some of these differences have been noted before, but not studied in a systematic way.

Kalimi adds a cautionary note prior to his detailed study. He is aware that the MT as we have it now, and upon which his study is largely based, may not be the same as the text of Samuel–Kings that the Chronicler had in front of him. The implication of this is that differences between the two literary complexes may not have been introduced by the Chronicler at all, but rather were present in his source. In an attempt to overcome this problem, Kalimi takes account of textual changes between the LXX, MT and the relevant manuscripts among the DSS and attempts to work out whether any changes predated the Chronicler.

Kalimi categorises his study under various headings, although, as he himself admits, some portions of the text fit into more than one category. The headings are: (1) Literary-Chronological Proximity; (2) Historiographical changes; (3) Completions and Additions; (4) Omissions; (5) Given Name-Equivalent Name Interchanges; (6) Treatment of Problematic Texts; (7) Harmonisations; (8) Character Creation; (9) “Measure for Measure”; (10) Allusion; (11) Chiasmus; (12) Chiasmus between Parallel Texts; (13) Repetitions; (14) Inclusio; (15) Antithesis; (16) Simile; (17) Key Words: (18) Numerical Patterns; (19) Generalisation and Specification.

It might be useful to look at one of these chapters in more depth and so give a better indication of Kalimi’s method and his achievements. In the first chapter, Kalimi considers several kinds of changes. The first is the creation of links—either literary or chronological—between events previously unconnected, e.g. the Chronicler places David’s anointing by all the tribes immediately after Saul’s death, whereas in Samuel much material intervenes between the two events. The anointing is connected with the conquest of Jerusalem by “all Israel,” and so points forward to the Temple and to the Jerusalem of the Chronicler’s own time. The second is the creation of links, either literary or chronological, between issues previously unconnected, e.g. in 2 Chron 32:20 the Chronicler only hints at Hezekiah’s prayer, even though his sources give some detail about it. He then recounts the slaughter of the Assyrian army by an angel of God. Kalimi draws the conclusion that the Chronicler wishes to emphasise God’s attentiveness to prayer and his immediate response to it. The third is the change from literary proximity to chronological-topical proximity, e.g. the cataloguing of Joash’s sins is immediately followed by the invasion of the Arameans who wounded him, then his own servants slew him (2 Chron 24:17–25a). In this way, it is underlined that he was being punished by God for his sins. This example is repeated by Kalimi in his “Measure for Measure” chapter, where he shows that the Chronicler emphasises the principle of divine retribution.

Kalimi’s last chapter, chapter 20, discusses the fact that some of the changes the Chronicler makes to his sources result in inconsistencies, disharmony or historical mistakes. Kalimi warns scholars that when they come across such features they should not automatically judge them to be later additions or textual errors. In his conclusion, Kalimi points out that his study has “provided new criteria for the evaluation of the picture of history portrayed by Chronicles” (p. 405). It is historiography to suit his own generation. Kalimi says he has also shown that there is a uniformity about the work which posits that most of it is from one hand. Further, that the model he has used in his study can be applied usefully to other works from the Ancient World.

The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles fills a gap in scholarship. The thorough review of the changes the Chronicler made to his sources is most instructive and will provide a useful guide to anyone working on Chronicles or attempting to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel.

Review by
La Trobe University
Bundoora VIC 3086, Australia