Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Duplicated Bible Chapters—follow-up

Biblegems #172
Question: A Bible Gems reader asked this question from Bible Gems #105, Duplicated Bible Chapters:  “There are duplications where the authors were more than a hundred years apart. Since they couldn't be eye witnesses what does it mean??”

The original question had to do specifically with the duplication of entire chapters of Scripture, so I am assuming the follow-up question still has duplicated Bible chapters in view. Here are some examples of duplicated Bible chapters, or large chapter portions:
         Psalms 14 & Psalm 53
         2 Kings 19 & Isaiah 37
         2 Kings 18:13-20:11 & Isaiah 36:1-38:8
2 Kings 24:18-25:30 & Jeremiah 52
Psalm 40:13-17 & Psalm 70
Psalm 57:7-11 & Psalm 60:5-12 & Psalm 108

As was mentioned in Duplicated Bible Chapters, part 1, Kings and Chronicles contain material common to both books. These, along with 1 & 2 Samuel, are books that cover hundreds of years of Israelite history. And even though 1 & 2 Samuel were originally one book in the Hebrew Bible, as were the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles, they were not each written by one human author. Rather, they contain the records of kings, scribes, prophets and court officials.

These records were then compiled by men led by the Holy Spirit to show the spiritual meaning behind historical events.
         2Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

The books of Samuel reveal what happens when God’s people trust their own judgment instead of God’s in the choice of a leader. Kings and Chronicles, each through a unique perspective, show how God blesses godly and obedient nations and their leaders, punishing the disobedient, as He exercises ultimate control over the flow of history to His predetermined conclusion.

It should be no surprise that the human authors of these books would draw on some of the same reliable historical records, even duplicating them, especially when reporting events taking place long past. Such duplication demonstrates that the author is not making things up as he goes along.

A good example of this is where the prophet Jeremiah describes how the reign of king Zedekiah was the primary cause behind the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 587-586 B.C. (Jeremiah 52). In fact, Jeremiah himself had even described this once before (Jeremiah 39:1-14), like a preacher re-using information from a previous sermon. This same material is found twice more in the Bible (2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21).

The book of Kings was completed very near the same time as Jeremiah. Chronicles, however, was completed much later, perhaps around 400 B.C.—almost two hundred years later. The author of Chronicles (Ezra?) was not an eyewitness of the events leading to Jerusalem’s destruction. But he did have the reliable accounts of Jeremiah (an eyewitness) and the complimentary record in the book of Kings to draw upon as his sources. This shows how committed he was to giving an accurate account.

You can trust the Bible to be historically accurate. God is not afraid of being proved wrong. God’s revelation to humanity through the inspired Word is based in the real world of historically and scientifically verifiable events.

         Ps. 119:89  Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

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