BOOK REVIEW  Published in Volume 68, 2020

JORDAN GUY, United in Exile, Reunited in Restoration (HBM 81; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2019). Pp. xii + 244. Hardback. £50.00.

Does 1–2 Chronicles envision a complete reversal of the exile? Jordan Guy’s monograph seeks to settle this question through a systematic examination of the exile topos in 1–2 Chronicles. While the topic of exile in 1–2 Chronicles has been of some interest, it has yet to see an extensive study throughout the book. This study originated as a doctoral dissertation under Michael Matlock at Asbury Theological Seminary. It is a welcome contribution which fills a gap within Chronicles studies.

The methodology section of the book is comprehensive, covering 38 pages (40–78). Guy adopts a literary-rhetorical approach in his study, and his examination follows a methodical five-step process: (1) context of Chronicles; (2) external design; (3) internal structure; (4) literary environment of the text; (5) message and appeal (52–54). Each pericope (which Guy calls “acts” [e.g., 81]) that is interpreted goes through this five-step process. Guy argues that there are 2 specific “acts” that make up 1”–2 Chronicles’ narrative structure: 1 Chronicles 1–9 and 1 Chronicles 10–2 Chronicles 36. Within these two acts are scenes. However, not every scene is relevant for the study, since not every passage within 1–2 Chroni-cles deals with the exile topos. So, instead, appropriate “episodes” within the acts are identified and studied (e.g., 110). While this exhaustive literary analysis may seem unnecessary, each part of it is crucial to Guy’s analysis in order to show how the topic of exile is weaved throughout the biblical text.

Guy begins with a meticulous study on the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1–9 (110–45). Upon examination, Guy concludes that the introduction to 1 Chronicles builds a negative climax (145). At least “two-and-one-half tribes of Israel never returned home” and the influence that all of Israel once had prior to the exile is not restored (145). Guy’s observation that not all of Israel had returned after the exile is convincing. 1 Chr 9:1b indicates that “all of Israel’ were taken into exile, but 9:2 discloses a reversal of the exile. However, within the list of returnees the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh-Gilead are not represented (140). Guy, however, does not jump to conclusions. Although some tribes are not listed in 1 Chronicles 9, there is still a possibility that a complete restoration may take place later in the narrative; however, as Guy’s analysis of 1 Chronicles 10–2 Chronicles 36 shows, there is no complete restoration (189–95). Although 2 Chr 36:22–23 seems to imply that a reversal of the exile has taken place, there is only a command from King Cyrus that allows for a return. In Guy’s words, “Since the book ends with Cyrus’ decree, the outcome of post-exilic Israel is left open-ended” (189).

One subject which was not elaborated thoroughly was the temple, a theme which is quite central with the return of the people at the end of 2 Chronicles (36:23). Nonetheless, this contribution to the field of 1–2 Chronicles studies should open up further discussions relating to themes that are intertwined with exile. Additionally, even though scholarship has now tended to read 1–2 Chronicles separately from Ezra-Nehemiah, the exile topos ought to be further examined in Ezra-Nehemiah, and also in other post-exilic texts. Such investigations may highlight how pervasive the concept of partial restoration is within post-exilic texts.

Overall, Guy’s study is a necessary contribution for those wanting to understand the theme of exile in 1–2 Chronicles and post-exilic texts in general. It is particularly recommended for those who study the post-exilic biblical texts with a literary approach.

Review by
Paul Byun
The University of Sydney
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