Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hahn, "The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire" (Part 3: 1 Chr 1-9)

Read Part 1 and Part 2

I move now into Chapter 1 of Hahn's commentary on Chronicles. Here Hahn looks at 1 Chronicles 1-9. Again, I cannot offer a comprehensive treatment; here I simply touch upon some of the insights I found most incisive.

I must reiterate that this overview doesn't do this section justice; it is incredibly rich. Hahn's arguments are detailed, well-supported and extremely impressive. I'm simply summarizing them, so I can't offer all the references he does.

Scott has told me, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." I hope he doesn't regret those words because my brief review here will fail to convey the power of this chapter.

Don't forget, you can buy the book here.

The Cosmic Implications of Israel's Election

After outlining 1 Chronicles 1-9, Hahn turns his attention to the genealogies that begin his work, which stretch all the way back to Adam. Hahn makes a poignant observation,
"While other peoples were intensely interested in the lines of descent of their kings, heroes, and even gods, no other people in antiquity can be found attempting to compile a genealogical record of the entire human race." (emphasis added; 19)
This is truly a stunning fact that is often unmentioned.

He goes on to demonstrate the implications of this: "The genealogies reflect a familial vision of the human race" (20). 

Furthermore, Hahn demonstrates the way Israel functions within the Chronicler's vision. He cites Von Rad, who recognized that the Chronicler "portrays history from Adam onwards as taking place all for [Israel's] own sake" (21). 

As Hahn points out, the Chronicler's outlook coheres well with other Old Testament and Jewish texts. Hahn cites several. For example, God's covenant with Israel is associated with his covenant with creation itself in Jeremiah: 
Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his descendants to rule over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy upon them.” (Jer 33:25–26).
Likewise, the Testament of Moses (first century AD), puts it this way: "He created the world on behalf of his people" (1.12-13).

The exile, of course, would seem to cast such theology into a crisis. Writing from a post-exilic standpoint, the obvious questions the Chronicler must address is, "What can election mean when the elected people remain scattered throughout the world, living under foreign domination? What can it mean when there is no son of David on the throne of Israel?" (21)

However, Hahn shows that though the work is a "fiercely nationalist document", the genealogies at the beginning reveal an even larger outlook, an internationalist / cosmic outlook. "From the initial genealogies, Israel's gaze is being directed outward, ad gentes (to the nations). Israel is asked to understand itself in light of the world's beginnings and in light of the history of the world's peoples." (22)

Adam and Israel

Hahn demonstrates that Israel's vocation in Chronicles seems to relate to Adam's role; Israel is called to fulfill the vocation of humanity itself. As a growing number of scholars are recognizing, Adam is described in Genesis as having both a royal task (e.g., having "dominion") and a priestly role. The latter is often overlooked.

Notably, the Chronicler uses the same language to describe the Levites' responsibilities that was associated with Adam. Adam is placed in the garden to "till" ('ābad) and "keep" (šāmar) it (Gen 2:15). These are the same Hebrew words used for the priestly duties of the Levities in Chronicles. As Hahn writes,
"In this the Chronicler is following an Old Testament pattern of usage. When 'ābad and šāmar appear int he same context, they are usually translated, 'serve and guard [or keep]"'; more often than not, the reference is to liturgical servince in the temple or tabernacle (Num. 3:7-8; 8:26; 18:5-6; Ezek. 44:14; discussion in Beale 2004: 66-70). (27)
Later on Hahn will show the Temple of Solomon also seems related to Edenic traditions, but here I am getting ahead of myself.

In short, humanity was created therefore for more than political domination--it was created for worship. 

Hahn goes on to show how Noah and Abraham, both depicted as "New Adam" figures in Genesis, clearly assume Adam's priestly responsibilities, i.e., offering sacrifice, imparting "blessing", etc. (pp. 28-30). In fact, the Chronicler places the temple at Moriah, clearly linking the Davidic kingdom with Abraham's sacrifice (p. 30).

It is no coincidence then that at Sinai Israel is given the vocation of being a "kingdom of priests" (Exod 19:6). Hahn cites N.T. Wright: "Israel's covenantal vocation caused her to think of herself as the Creator's true humanity. . . Israel herself becomes the true Adamic humanity." (31).

For the Chronicler, the Davidic kingdom under David and Solomon, which represents an era of international cooperation in the cult (stay tuned!), represents the "zenith" of salvation history (32). The hope for restoration of the Kingdom of David--in this form--involves a cosmic dimension. Hahn cites Ackroyd: "Restoration is not for Israel alone, but is related to the wider purposes of God for the nations." (34).

Contrary to the exclusivist tendencies found in Ezra and Nehemiah, the genealogy of Judah in Chronicles involve numerous cases of intermarriage.

Hahn writes:
"The implication is that God's people is to be understood, not as a political, geographic , or ethnic reality, but as a religious or liturgical one. Israel, the kingdom of God, is a liturgical empire, an empire of prayer. In this kingdom, life is liturgy, and worship is aimed at the transformation of the world into a temple of the living God." (35)
Implications for New Testament Studies

In the final pages of this section of his commentary, Hahn demonstrates ways in which the basic outlook of the Chronicler relates to the New Testament. Indeed, the international outlook expressed in Chronicles is clearly evident in the New Testament. And just as David plays pivotal role in the story of salvation for the Chronicler, so too the New Testament reveals the true zenith of salvation history in the coming of the son of David. Indeed, it is no wonder that Luke's genealogy of Jesus stretches all the way back to Adam.

Hahn ends this section with the following quote from Jerome on the importance of "the book of Paralipomenon":
"The book of Paralipomenon is an epitome of the Old Testament and is of such scope and quality that anyone wishing to claim knowledge of scripture without it should laugh at himself. For because of the individual names mentioned and the composition of words, both historical events omitted in the books of Kings are touched on and innumerable questions pertinent to the gospel are explained" (Epistle 53.8).

1 comment:

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