Historical Challenge of Chronicles
The inconsistencies within the text of Chronicles versus Samuel-Kings does not imply that one is truth and the other lies. Inconsistencies also occur in the creation narrative. What comes to mind, however, if we allow the inconsistencies to occur and still regard the whole text as valid is that we must accept the entire canon as the Word of God. It isn’t a textbook or an encyclopedia. If we are to believe the entire text as God’s Word, we must allow variations to exist for a purpose. Take, for example, a terrible car accident at an intersection. Four people observing the accident from beginning to end from the vantage points of the four corners of the intersection will report variations on the truth of the accident. One perspective does not nullify the other three. A method of reading the text can be “selective documentation is not ‘falsifying’ truth but is representing the past.”
Chronicles is a “representation” of the past for the tribe of Israel. Omitting details, changing details, substituting details does not make the work a piece of fiction or a piece of creative non-fiction; rather, it forces the reader to actively engage in discovering the message of the text rather than keeping a ticker tape of inconsistent details.
Art as Metaphor
The concept of viewing the biblical narrative through art is a valid method to engage the reader with the text. We come to the text with our own emotional, historical, perceptual “baggage” (if you will). We can see variations of art as realism, impressionism, and cubism convey this concept in a tangible and appropriate manner. One medium is not “more right” than another even though it might appeal to each of us differently. An observer might be repulsed by Picasso’s cubism and yet be enamored with Monet’s impressionism. The challenge comes in using art as a metaphor with the biblical text in that art could skew the observer to a point of no return. For example, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ might be to some a true depiction of the events of Christ and be a valid and appropriate retelling of the story. To another, however, that film might just be an exaggeration and gore for the sake of voyeuristic carnage. Subsequently, the purpose of the film might be lost in the attempted translation. In viewing the text as art as well as history offers us opportunities to engage with Sceipture, and our God, on many levels and allows His work to penetrate us in various manners.