Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Biblical and/or Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology, PhD

First Advisor

Randall W. Younker

Second Advisor

Paul J. Ray, Jr.

Third Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Abstract

The Problem

Since the eighteenth century, many biblical scholars and historians have seriously questioned the historical reliability of the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles for two important reasons. First, these books were clearly composed no earlier than the late sixth and most likely during the fifth century B.C. Consequently, the question arises as to whether the author, writing during the Persian Period, was able to access annalistic sources from the Iron Age II. Secondly, the author seems to display a strong theological tendentious view that often appears to influence his portrayal of the kings and people of Judah and hence casts serious doubts on the historical credibility of his work. In his treatment of the kings of Judah, the author regularly provides information missing from parallel biblical texts. Accordingly, whether the author of Chronicles penned his narrative directly from annals and records from the period of the monarchy, or deliberately created and composed his own theological history of ancient Israel and Judah remains a contested issue.

The Method

This study selected Judah’s war against the Philistines during the reign of Uzziah, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 26:6-7a, as an ideal “test case” for determining the historical credibility of information preserved only in Chronicles. The careful, exhaustive study of published archaeological data from the numerous surveys and excavations conducted in the Shephelah and the Philistine Plain provide a crucial, independent witness to eighth century B.C. constructive and destructive events in this region. All aspects of material culture were examined, notably architecture, epigraphic material and other key ethnic indicators in order to help determine the predominant ethnicity of each site. Special attention was given to the sites specifically mentioned in the text of Chronicles; Gath (assumably Tell es-Safi), (Tel) Ashdod and (Tel) Yavneh.

The Results

The archaeological evidence portrays a strong, resurgent Judah during the reign of Uzziah and confirms a strong Judahite material cultural presence at several sites in the Philistine Plain, including Tell es-Safi. However, earlier claims that ascribe destructive layers to Uzziah, notably at the site of Ashdod, have been called into questions, while recent excavations at an extramural suburb of this Philistine city unearthed a destruction layer that may correlate with his actions.

Conclusions

The study has demonstrated, utilizing various lines of archaeological evidence gleaned from numerous sites relevant to the historical issue at hand, that the weight of probability supports the historical credibility of 2 Chronicles 26:6-7a and provides a reasonably persuasive case that this biblical text preserves archival data dating from the period of the monarchy (Iron Age II), but falls short of offering definitive proof.

Subject Area

Bible. 2 Chronicles 26--Criticism, interpretation, etc., Judaea (Region)--Antiquities, Archaeology--Judaea (Region)

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