Once at the center of HB studies in the work of Wilhelm de Wette, and progressively moved to the margins where it was entrenched by Julius Wellhausen, the book of "Chronicles" has enjoyed a resurgence in scholarly interest in recent decades. However, no consensus has emerged from these numerous studies on even the most basic of issues: the authorship, date, genre, and purpose of the work have been at the center of much debate. For example: is the work from the Persian or Hellenistic or even Maccabean period; is it history or historiography or midrash or something else; is it originally the work of priests or Levites, and was it redacted by the other group and to what extent; what is its relationship to its sources - especially the Pentateuch, Samuel-Kings, and the Ezra and Nehemiah materials; how many redactions has it undergone and which sections belong to each; and what are its main theological interests? Rather than focus on one of these issues, which has been the trend of a majority of recent publications, this examination employs a literary approach in an attempt to address the coherence of "Chronicles" as a whole.
Three major concerns of the "Chronicles" commonly discussed by scholars (genealogy, politics, and the temple cult) are examined through the lens of utopian literary theory.
Steven Schweitzer is visiting Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, France.