Merrill, Eugene. A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles. Kregel Exegetical Library. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2015, pp. 637, $39.99, hardcover.
Eugene Merrill is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored a number of works including major commentaries on Deuteronomy (New American Commentary, B&H, 1994) and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, 1994, Moody; reprinted by CreateSpace, 2014). Merrill is a preeminent evangelical scholar and has provided pastors, students, and scholars alike a commentary that will be their go-to resource on the books of Chronicles. 1 & 2 Chronicles is the fifth volume in the Kregel Exegetical Library, but is the sixth volume available at the time of this review.
Merrill begins his commentary with a discussion of introductory issues including material on historical and cultural setting, historiography, and theology of the book, as well as other major issues introductory issues. Merrill holds to commonly held views on issues of setting and authorship within the book while highlighting important aspects of setting like political re-establishment and social reform. He also has a discussion of religious reform that is quite thorough. One of Merrill’s concerns is also how Chronicles relates to Ezra-Nehemiah. Within his discussion historiography he notes that the message of Chronicles “has to redress that despair [of Ezra-Nehemiah] while at the same time tracing the history of the nation from the time of the patriarchs to his present time to demonstrate how God’s covenant people time and time again rebelled against his gracious covenant” (p. 52).
The commentary proper is broken into nine sections that follow major sections within the book. The first section focuses on 1 Chronicles 1-9 and gives a discussion of the genealogies. Next Merrill focuses on the rise of David (1 Chron 10-14). The third section focuses on David’s exploits (1 Chron 15-21). Fourth, Merrill looks at the preparations for succession (1 Chron 22-29). The fifth section focuses on the reign of Solomon (2 Chron 1-9). The next two sections focus on the the reigns of Rehoboam to Hezekiah (2 Chron 10-28). The last two sections then focus on Hezekiah’s reign (2 Chron 29-32) and the last kings to Judah to the decree of Cyrus (2 Chron 33-36). Each section begins with an outline. Then the text is broken into smaller units where there is a translation (from the NIV) provided along with text-critical notes. Each textual unit also contains an exegesis and exposition section. At the end of each of the 9 major sections there is also a section on the application of the theology of that section.
There are too many commendable features in this commentary to list them all so I will just mention two. First, the genealogies section of the commentary is exceptionally helpful. Merrill provides charts on the genealogies in Chronicles. These charts do two things. First, they show the percentage of space given to each tribe within the genealogies. A second chart compares the genealogies in Chronicles with the genealogies in Genesis, Matthew, and Luke. Within the genealogies section Merrill notes that “Without an understanding of the Chronicler’s messianic hope and promise, not only are the genealogies without existential meaning but the entire narrative of redemptive history ceases to have significance” (p. 145). Another commendable feature of the commentary is the thoroughness of each section. From the introduction to the commentary proper it is clear that Merrill has given significant thought to each point of comment that he has made.
The only critique that I would make of this commentary is that the application sections could be lengthier or possibly more frequent within the commentary. Sometimes the application section is only about a page in length. The application comments are helpful and insightful, it would just be good for these sections to be a bit longer.
Merrill’s commentary continues the early success of this Kregel series. The Kregel Exegetical Library commentaries are quickly becoming some of the best commentaries from an evangelical perspective. The volumes in this series have all been exceptional. Merrill’s volume is no exception to this. This commentary will be of help to any student, pastor, or scholar. This commentary combines the best of technical scholarship with readability. Hopefully this commentary will draw more interest to the text of 1-2 Chronicles by pastors and teachers within churches, as these might be some of the most neglected texts in all of the Bible.
Daniel S. Diffey
Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, AZ