Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

12 March 2009

Navigating around Kings and Chronicles - Tip Four

The fourth, final and most practical tip for navigating around 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles is to have a roadmap with you as you read. I've read several novels where I was grateful that the author included an appendix with family tree type information at the end. "The Lord of the Rings" by JRR Tolkien and "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez are two that spring to mind immediately. I seem to recall spending as much time referring to the tables at the back of these books as I did in the actual text of the novel!

Given that the books of Kings and Chronicles are somewhat tricky to navigate, a roadmap or two makes reading these books much more productive and enjoyable so I have two photocopies tucked in my Bible which I pull out every time I get to this part of the Bible - and they are an enormous help in navigating my way through this material.

Now at this point I must confess that I am one of those people who cannot read maps very well. Once when walking around a foreign city I actually had the map upside down (can you believe that??), walked myself right off the map and became terribly lost. So when I am driving to a new suburb I study the street directory at home and then write myself a list of directions to follow.

It goes without saying then that of the two photocopies I refer to when reading this section of the Bible, one is a roadmap through and through but the other is more like a list of directions.

The roadmap, entitled Outline of Old Testament History, is from Graeme Goldsworthy's very helpful book "Gospel and Kingdom" published by The Paternoster Press. Through lines and labels, this very helpful diagram shows the splitting of the nation into two, exiles, returns and key prophets associated with these times…a basic structure to guide you through this section of the Bible.

The list is from the "New Bible Commentary" (companion volume to the indispensable "New Bible Dictionary") published by IVP. Found at the beginning of the notes for 1 and 2 Kings is a Chronology of 1 and 2 Kings. It is a list of all the kings of Judah set out alongside all the kings of Israel complete with the years they each reigned – and also a third column of key rulers and events in neighbouring nations. For one who LOVES lists, this is very useful.

For me, these two tools are indispensible when tackling this part of the Bible. I wish I had known about them 15 years ago!!!

And that brings to an end this little series. I hope it is of some help if you are planning on reading this section of the Bible at some stage.


mattnbec said...

This has been a series of great tips, Meredith. Really does remind me of how important understanding the context is to understanding the OT in particular.


Meredith said...

Thanks Bec. It's such an exciting part of the Bible when you have a bit of an idea of what is going on! Next I need to sort out all those prophets. I have always connected to the history bit but the prophets are a bit of a black hole for me. So my plan is to attack them (so to speak) from this very angle of understanding the context. Now that could be a HUGE series of posts...

Sharon said...

Wow, thanks for this suggestion of resources. I tried making one of those lists like the second one last year and my head nearly exploded. I wish I had just thought of not reinventing the wheel, but checking out other people's wheels first.

~ Sharon

Meredith said...

I know exactly what you mean by "my head nearly exploded" because that is how I felt that weekend 15 years ago when I tried to sort it all out for the first time. And I was mightily pleased to find these resources!! So it is good to be able to share them with others.