Ask Augustine: What is the least read book in the Bible?

Paul Tambrino, EdD, PhD

Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino


Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.

Question #1 – What is the least read book in the Bible?

 

If you think you have a high threshold of boredom begin reading 1 Chronicles and see how far you get.

If you can make it through all the genealogies of “begots” in the first nine chapters, congratulations are in order.

Starting with chapter 10, Chronicles becomes a historical account of King David and the royal dynasty he established.

The narrator starts with the death of Saul, Israel’s first king, followed by all Israel’s appeal to David to become its monarch.

The material covered in Chronicles is much the same as that recorded in the books of Samuel and Kings extending from the reign of David (c. 1000 B.C.) to Cyrus’s decree authorizing the Jews to return from exile (538).

As was the case with David, the author of Chronicles chooses to exclude the unflattering details about Solomon that the author of Kings mentions.

After Solomon’s death the kingdom of Israel is split in two. The ten northern tribes formed the kingdom of Israel while the southern kingdom of Judah continued to be ruled by the descendants of David and Solomon.

“The material covered in Chronicles is much the same as that recorded in the books of Samuel and Kings extending from the reign of David (c. 1000 B.C.) to Cyrus’s decree authorizing the Jews to return from exile (538).”

Although the northern kingdom existed for over two hundred years until the Assyrians destroyed it in 722 B.C. the author is quite uninterested in that kingdom.

His concern is exclusively with the house of David which he regarded as the only legitimate royal household.

Consistent with his pious approach, the author of Chronicles devotes most of his attention to Judah’s righteous kings (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah).

Writing of the wicked King Manasseh whose reign lasted 55 years, he adds a detail found nowhere in the book of Kings.

He records that Manasseh in his later years repented of his evil deeds (2 Chron. 33:12-13), perhaps to account for the king’s long and materially successful reign.

Most Jewish scholars credit Ezra as Chronicles main author and assume Nehemiah made some additions.

Originally the two books of Chronicles were one long volume that was later divided, as was the case with the two books of Samuel and Kings.

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