A review of Eugene H. Merrill, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles, Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2015, 637 pages, hdbk
Among readers of the Old Testament (you know, those creatures of legend that used to inhabit churches), the Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles would not rank too high on their list of favorites. Even zealous preachers would, given the choice, prefer to go through 1 & 2 Kings rather than Chronicles.
But these neglected books (one book in the Hebrew Bible) are the only ones which traverse the entire history of Israel, even if they do so by concentrating mainly on the fortunes of the tribe of Judah, particularly the line of David, and the fate of Jewish worship under a succession of kings. A key underlying theme concerns the self-identity of the Davidic monarchy as related to the Davidic covenant (see the excellent treatment of the Theology of the Book, 57-68).
Eugene Merrill was a wise choice to write the commentary. Anyone familiar with his Kingdom of Priests will know about his attention to detail, faithfulness to the biblical text, and refusal to swallow the camels of historical criticism. As the reviewer can personally testify, Dr. Merrill is a churchman, and his book is a fine exposition for the preacher and teacher of the Bible.
As is usual with this impressive series, the comments are deep enough to cover the important items: text, exegesis, explanation and application. Merrill even includes twelve excurses on topics like “The Angel of YHWH”, two on “Holy War”, “Old Testament Historiography”, issues of chronology in relation to extra-biblical events.
For me the real treasure of this commentary are the chapters handling the “Theology of…” which close out each section. These expand the fine summary in the Introduction and they deserve careful attention. As 1 & 2 Chronicles are, first and foremost, theological histories, these chapters are invaluable.
In my opinion this is the best place to go to study these books, and to preach them!
Sad to say, the editing of the Commentary leaves a lot to be desired in the area of proofing of errors. Also, once again for this series, there are no indexes, and there’s no excuse for that!
I received the commentary free from the publisher.