About: this paper was submitted to Dr. Chris Corwin at Fuller Theological Seminary during my first year for a class on the Writings.
A Comparison of Kings and Chronicles
|Different: Begins with Solomon||Begins with Adam|
|Different: Does not include kingly reigns of Saul or David||Includes kingly reigns of Saul and David|
|Different: David’s death is longer and more detailed||David’s death is mentioned in passing|
|Different: Adds Adonijah’s attempt to set himself up as king||
|Different: Adds David’s charge to Solomon||
|Note: The beginning of Kings and Chronicles are different, but they share similarities. For example, both include David’s death, but they do it differently. The books take different starting points, but it is easy to tell that both books are looking at David’s reign through his heirs.|
|Similar: Both tell of Solomon asking for wisdom (1 Kgs 3; 2 Chrs 1)|
|Different: Adds story of the two women and a baby||
|Different: Adds a lot of all of Solomon’s officials and governors||
|Different: Adds Solomon’s provisions||
|Different: Adds Solomon’s wisdom||
|Note: Why does Kings include these different stories that demonstrate the wisdom of Solomon? Why does Chronicles not include it? These differences should be focused on.|
|Similar: Preparations for building the temple (1 Kgs 5; 2 Chrs 2)|
|Different: Cedars of Lebanon (5:6)||Cedar logs (2:3) . . . from Lebanon (2:8)|
|Different: Identifies that the temple was made by Solomon in accord with what God told David (5:5)||Identifies that the temple was made by Solomon so that cultic worship could be practiced in one central location (2:4)|
|Different: Adds the work schedule for the laborers (5:3)||
|Similar: 70,000 and 80,000 for temple laborers|
|Different: 3300 supervisors (5:15)||3600 supervisors (2:18)|
|Different: The time the temple was built is relative to the Exodus (6:1)||The time the temple was built is relative to Solomon’s kingly reign (3:2)|
|Similar: Temple description (1 Kgs 6; 2 Chrs 3): 60 cubits long; 20 cubits wide|
|Different: Adds height of 30 cubits (6:2)||
|Similar: Portico, on width of the front of the temple (1 Kgs 6:3; 2 Chrs 3:4)|
|Different: Identifies 10 cubits long by 20 cubits wide||Identifies 20 cubits wide by 20 cubits high|
|Different: 6:4ff deals with temple layout first||3:4ff picks up after 1 Kgs description of the temple’s layout|
|Different: Temple walls lined with cedar boards (6:15)||Temple walls lined with gold (3:4)|
|Different: Adds temple completion of 7 years (6:38)||
|Note: The temple descriptions from Kings and Chronicles are very close. It is hard to think that one did not copy from the other or at least from a common source, whether the author himself as the common source or from a separate document.|
|Different: Description of Solomon building his palace (7:1-12)||Solomon’s construction of his palace is mentioned in passing (8:1)|
|Similar: Solomon’s Activities (1 Kgs 9:10ff; 2 Chrs 8:1ff)|
|Different: 1 Kgs 9:11-19||2 Chrs 8:2-6|
|Similar: 1 Kgs 9:20-23; 2 Chrs 8:7-10|
|Similar: Queen of Sheba (1 Kgs 10:1-13; 2 Chrs 9:1-12)|
|Similar: Solomon’s Prosperity (1 Kgs 10:14-29; 2 Chrs 9:13-28)|
|Different: Addition of Solomon’s wives (11:1-13)||
|Different: Addition of Solomon’s enemies (11:14-25)||
|Different: Addition of Jeroboam’s rebellion (11:26-40)||
|Note: Kings includes Solomon’s shortcomings at the end of his life while Chronicles does not. Why does Chronicles conveniently skip over that portion of Solomon’s life?|
|Similar: Solomon’s death (1 Kgs 11:41-43; 2 Chrs 9:29-31)|
|Different: Annals of Solomon (11:41)||Records of Nathan (9:29)|
|Similar: Israel’s rebellion against Rehoboam (1 Kgs 12:1-24; 2 Chrs 10:1-11:4)|
|Different: Addition of 1 Kgs 12:20||
|Different: Addition of Jeroboam focus (12:25-14:20)||
|Similar: Rehoboam focus (1 Kgs 14:21-31; 2 Chrs 11:5-12:16)|
|Different:||Addition of details regarding Rehoboam|
|Similar: Abijah king of Judah (1 Kgs 15:1-8; 2 Chrs 13:1-14:1)|
|Different:||Addition of details regarding battle|
|Similar: Asa king of Judah (1 Kgs 15:9-24; 2 Chrs 14:2-16:14)|
|Different:||Addition of details regarding Asa|
|Different: Kings of Israel (15:25-22:40)
|Note: Two things to discuss here. First, note how Kings and Chronicles are very similar with a few interpolations of details on either side. When one book felt it important to include more details, it did; for the most part, however, these books are mostly similar. Second, note at this point Kings focus on the kings of Israel. The kings of Israel are hardly mentioned in Chronicles, and then only when it pertinent to the history of a particular king of Judah. Kings is focused on all the heirs of David who ruled, whether in Israel or Judah. Chronicles is focused on the Judaic lineage of David.|
|Similar: Micaiah prophesies against Ahab (1 Kgs 22:1-28; 2 Chrs 18:1-27)|
|Similar: Ahab’s death (1 Kgs 22:29-40; 2 Chrs 18:28-34)|
|Different:||Addition of details regarding Ahab’s death|
|Similar: Jehoshaphat king of Judah (1 Kgs 22:41-50; 2 Chrs 17:1-21:3)|
|Different:||Addition of details regarding Jehoshaphat
|Different: Addition of Israel’s politics (1 Kgs 22:51-2 Kgs 8:15)
|Similar: Jehoram king of Judah (2 Kgs 8:16-24; 2 Chrs 21:4-20)|
|Different:||Addition of Elijah’s letter (vv. 12-15)|
|Note: Elijah and Elisha are not mentioned in Chronicles, whereas they are heavily focused on in Kings. However, there is one exception—Elijah’s letter to Jehoram in Chronicles. These prophets were servants of God in Israel and not in Judah, which is why they are not referenced much in Chronicles because it focused on Judah’s history. What is strange is that Elijah’s letter is mentioned in Chronicles, but it doesn’t seem to fit the historical timeline of when he was taken up to heaven in Kings. In Kings he is taken up during the reign of Ahaziah in Israel. In Chronicles, Elijah sends a letter to the king of Judah, Jehoram, Ahaziah’s son. How can Elijah send Jehoram a letter, which is what Chronicles identifies, if Kings identifies that Elijah had already been taken up to heaven before Jehoram became king of Judah?|
|Similar: Ahaziah king of Judah (2 Kgs 8:25-29; 2 Chrs 22:1-9)|
|Different: Addition of Jehu’s reign over Israel (9:1-10:36)
|Similar: Athaliah and Joash (2 Kgs 11:1-21; 2 Chrs 22:10-23:21)|
|Similar: Joash repairs the temple (2 Kgs 12:1-21; 2 Chrs 24:1-27)|
|Different: Addition of kings of Israel (2 Kgs 13:1-25)
|Similar: Amaziah king of Judah (2 Kgs 14:1-22; 2 Chrs 25:1-28)|
|Different: Addition of Jeroboam II king of Israel (2 Kgs 14:23-29)||
|Similar: The reign of the son of Amaziah over Judah (2 Kgs 15:1-7; 2 Chrs 26)|
|Different: Azariah (2 Kgs 15:1-7)||Uzziah (2 Chrs 26)|
|Different: Addition of kings of Israel (2 Kgs 15:8-31)
|Similar: Jotham king of Judah (2 Kgs 15:32-38; 2 Chrs 27:1-9)|
|Similar: Ahaz king of Judah (2 Kgs 16:1-20; 2 Chrs 28:1-26)|
|Different: Addition of Israelite history just prior to the Assyrian exile (2 Kgs 17:1-41)
|Similar: Hezekiah king of Judah (2 Kgs 18:1-20:21; 2 Chrs 29:1-32:33)|
|Different:||Addition of details regarding Hezekiah’s involvement in cultic worship (29:1-31:21)
|Similar: Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 18:17-19:37; 2 Chrs 32:1-23)|
|Different: Addition of details regarding Sennacherib’s siege
|Similar: Manasseh king of Judah (2 Kgs 21:1-18; 2 Chrs 33:1-20)|
|Similar: Amon king of Judah (2 Kgs 21:19-26; 2 Chrs 33:21-25)|
|Similar: Josiah king of Judah (2 Kgs 22:1-23:30; 2 Chrs 34:1-36:1)|
|Different:||Addition of Joshia’s reforms (34:1-13)|
|Different: Contains Josiah renewing the covenant (23:1-28)||
|Different:||Contains Josiah celebrating the Passover (35:1-19)|
|Similar: Jehoahaz king of Judah (2 Kgs 23:31-35; 2 Chrs 36:2-4)|
|Similar: Jehoiakim king of Judah (2 Kgs 23:36-24:7; 2 Chrs 36:5-8)|
|Similar: Jehoiachin king of Judah (2 Kgs 24:8-17; 2 Chrs 36:9-10)|
|Similar: Zedekiah king of Judah (2 Kgs 24:18-20; 2 Chrs 36:11-14)|
|Similar: Fall of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 24:20-25:26; 2 Chrs 36:15-23)|
|Different: Addition of Jehoiachin’s release (25:27-30)||
|Different:||Addition of Cyrus’ decree (36:22-23)|
|Note: For the most part, these sections are very similar. In general the sections in Chronicles are shorter than that of Kings, but they cover the same material. Also, the addition of Cyrus’ decree in Chronicles should be noted. It brings the story of Chronicles nearly full circle. It begins with a king who makes preparations to build a temple and it ends with a king who makes a decree to build a temple.|
What Does it Mean?
What does the comparison between Kings and Chronicles mean? Does it mean anything? The comparison does demonstrate that there is a relationship between the two documents, and there are a variety of possibilities that explain that relationship. The best possibility is the one that can account for as much of the evidence available to us. Out of all the possibilities out there regarding this relationship, there are five that seem most probable.
It appears that Kings and Chronicles are very similar despite their various differences. The long sections of nearly identical content demonstrate how similar these two documents are. How could this closeness be explained? There are several realistic possibilities that would explain the similarities and differences of these two documents. First, what we will call the Author Hypothesis, the two documents share the same author. The author wrote Kings and Chronicles at different times and for different purposes. As a result, they share much of the same content, but he or she expounds or deletes wherever necessary to accomplish the desired goal. This theory accounts for the similarities in content as well as the differences. It accounts for the different foci of the two documents as well. Perhaps the author had an initial focus when writing the one, and then wanted to accomplish a new goal by focusing on something else, hence the focus on all of David’s heirs to the throne in Kings and only on David’s Judaic heirs to the throne in Chronicles.
Second, what we will call the Document Source Hypothesis, the two documents copied from the same document, that we will label “D.” The author or authors of Kings and Chronicles could have copied from D to create those documents. This theory accounts for the similarities between Kings and Chronicles. It makes sense that when the author(s) felt necessary to alter the content provided by D, whether by adding, subtracting or summarizing, which accounts for the differences. The Document Source Hypothesis also accounts for the variants in themes, because the two documents, although copying from D, served different purposes, hence Kings’ focus on all of David’s heirs and Chronicles’ Judaic heirs.
Third, what we will call the Various Historian’s Hypothesis, the two documents were written by different historians, but because they were writing about facts in history, it is to be expected that there would be much of the same content with some differences. Although some details are different, there are some sections that are in the one and not in the other, among other minor differences, the majority of the two books are very much the same if we consider all of the latter portion of Chronicles (in the English translation, 2 Chronicles) to the book of Kings (1 & 2 Kings). If two various historians wrote Kings and Chronicles, where one historian wrote Kings, and the other historian wrote Chronicles, it would make sense that there would be much of the same content with minor differences throughout. However, this theory does not account for the fact that much of the text in both books are nearly word for word. How could two various historians write a historical-narrative account that is nearly word for word, particularly when the texts that are practically identical are not speeches or quotes? Aside from this problem, this theory does account for the different foci in Kings and Chronicles. One historian focused on the kingly rule of all of David’s descendants while the other focused only on David’s descendants that ruled over Judah. This theory accounts for the different foci and also the various additions and omissions.
Fourth, what we will call the Formal Oral Tradition Hypothesis, the two documents were written down after a formal oral tradition had been established. The formal oral tradition would be a well-structured oral narrative that would have been memorized word for word and passed on to generation to generation. This theory would account for the similarities, but not necessarily the differences. It would not account for the different foci, additions, omissions or summaries.
Fifth, what we will call the Informal Oral Tradition Hypothesis, the two documents were written down after an informal oral tradition had been established. The informal oral tradition would be a structured oral narrative that has key points or highlights but the minute details of the story would be somewhat flexible. This theory would account for the similarities—the highlights are all the same between Kings and Chronicles—and the differences—the details can be flexed a little. In addition, because the details can be flexed a little, the narratives can be used for different purposes since parts can be added, omitted, or summarized.
Out of these five different possibilities, two seem to be the most probable. The first one is the Document Source Hypothesis. This hypothesis is quite attractive because it was practiced among the Hebrew authors of the Hebrew Bible. The author of the Pentateuch, for example, most likely copied from the Code of Hammurabi, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enuma Elish and other Ancient Near Eastern texts. If not from those extra-biblical texts, we can say that the author did copy texts from Exodus when writing Deuteronomy. The practice of copying from another source, whether it be the authors or someone else’s, is evidenced in the Bible. It is not a problem and it is perhaps acceptable to see the Document Source Hypothesis as valid. It would not be beyond the practices of writing for the Hebrew authors, as is evidenced with the Exodus and Deuteronomy similarities and differences. Furthermore, if D were not true, the Document Source Hypothesis could be true if Chronicles copied Kings or vice versa, because one document relies on another in order to produce a finished product. Given the practices of the Hebrew authors, it would not be unlikely for the Document Source Hypothesis to be true, and it accounts for all of the similarities and differences.
The second theory is the Informal Oral Tradition Hypothesis. This hypothesis is fairly attractive given the practice of the Hebrews to teach in groups around fires in the towns and villages. Narratives were one of the primary ways of teaching the children about the Lord and about their heritage. It is not unlikely, then, that the traditions of the kings who reigned as sons of David were passed on orally in an informal way such as around a group setting in the villages. Similarly, it is not unlikely that the traditions being passed down were eventually written down. These documents of the informal oral transmissions account for all the similarities and differences between Kings and Chronicles.
Of the two most probable options, it is most likely the former, not the latter, that is true, because of a few significant reasons. One, too many significantly large sections are nearly word for word in Kings and Chronicles. It seems most likely that a source would be necessary to account with any certainty for the near identical content of the two documents. Two, more source criticism can be demonstrated throughout the Hebrew Bible than can informal oral tradition. In other words, the authors of the Hebrew Bible often practiced copying and editing other sources to form new documents. The Informal Oral Tradition could be true, but it is not as easily or as readily demonstrated as is the Document Source Hypothesis. The weight of the evidence points to the Document Source Hypothesis. Three, Chronicles and Kings both explicitly reference other texts, and it seems that the author of these two documents may have either referred to or copied from them.
The texts that Kings refers to are the book of the annals of Solomon (1 Kgs 11:41), the book of the annals of the kings of Israel (1 Kgs 14:19) and the book of the annals of the kings of Judah (1 Kgs 14:29).1 Chronicles mentions the book of the kings of Israel (1 Chrs 9:1; 2 Chrs 20:34; cf. 2 Chrs 33:18), the book of the annals of king David (1 Chrs 27:24), the book of the kings of Judah or of Israel and Judah (2 Chrs 16:11; 25:26; 27:7; 28:36; 32:32; 35:27; 36:8) and the annotations of the book of the kings (2 Chrs 24:27).2 Chronicles also includes references to information that came from all of the following people: Samuel the seer (1 Chrs 29:29); Nathan the prophet (1 Chrs 29:29; 2 Chrs 9:29); Gad the seer (1 Chrs 29:29); Ahijah the Shilomite (2 Chrs 9:29); Iddo the seer (2 Chrs 9:29; 12:15; 13:22); Shemaiah the prophet (2 Chrs 12:15); the prophet Isaiah (2 Chrs 26:22); and the seers (2 Chrs 33:19).3 Furthermore, Chronicles heavily relies on the Pentateuch, Judges, Ruth, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Zechariah.4 It is apparent that the author of Chronicles did not creatively or originally write it, but rather, selected, arranged and integrated his sources, whatever and whichever ones he or she may have used, into a narrative historical account of the Judaic reign of David’s descendants.5
Based on Chronicles’ heavy dependence on Genesis, Samuel and Kings, we know that source work is being executed. When we add the heavy influences of all the other Hebrew sources and the textual references to additional ones, the Document Source Hypothesis stands out the most, even if Kings and Chronicles had more than one source. This theory best accounts for all of the present evidence—the references to other sources, word for word sections, similarities, differences, and the different foci of the two documents—and is the one most or generally accepted.6
So what does this mean? It means that Chronicles was not merely written down by God through the hand of a man or woman. It does not mean that Chronicles is void of the inspiration of God, but rather it means Chronicles was written as a re-working or re-telling of a particular history for a specific purpose by use of what other people had already written. God could have inspired that process just as much as he would have inspired a single author to creatively and originally write a letter. It also means that Chronicles could contain unbiblical portions of text; however, this possibility is not a problem or a threat, because God inspired its assembly process. This comparison plainly reveals Chronicles and Kings, though similar and different, serve different purposes.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible. 3rd ed. New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha.
Michael D. Coogan, ed. Marc Z. Brettler, Carol A. Newsom and Pheme Perkins,
associate eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
The NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Kenneth Barker, ed. Donald Burdick, John
Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, associate eds. Grand Rapids: Zondervan
Bible Publishers, 1985.
1 The NIV Study Bible, 464.
2 Ibid., 578.
3 Ibid., 578.
4 Ibid., 578.
5 Ibid., 578.
6 Cf. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 577. Note statements like the following one: “In depicting their history, the Chronicler is largely dependent on Kings . . .” Most scholars view Kings as written first and Chronicles written second, copying from Genesis, Samuel and Kings.