Ralph W. Klein, Christ Seminary-Seminex Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), has published 2 Chronicles in the prestigious Hermeneia Commentary Series of Fortress Press. His 1 Chronicles was published in the Hermeneia Commentary Series in 2006. In 2 Chronicles, Klein shows that the Chronicler used a text of Kings that is significantly different from the Masoretic Text. He argues that the Chronicler’s departure from the historical picture of Kings is a result of a distinctive theological agenda for 4th Century Judah. Klein explores that message of what it meant to live faithfully and to participate in temple and worship life in the absence of political independence.
Chronicles: the work of a lifetime
Klein’s work on Chronicles began with his doctoral dissertation at Harvard Divinity School (1966), Studies in the Greek Texts of the Chronicler. In this work he was able to show, partly on the basis of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that the Hebrew text of the Bible underwent numerous revisions before 100 A. D. Because of this work Klein was invited to write the two volume commentary on Chronicles in 1978. The first volume was praised by Dr. Patrick D. Miller, Charles T. Haley Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary: “Klein’s deep penetration into the text and meaning of Chronicles is unexcelled in the English language and provides the reader of the book all that he or she needs to understand and expound the meaning of the text. It will be the standard against which other commentaries on Chronicles are measured for years to come.”
The Books of Chronicles were composed in the fourth century B.C. and tell the story of the world from creation to the return of Israel from the Babylonian exile. The author, called the Chronicler since his name is unknown, rewrote the history found in the books of Samuel and Kings, but made use of many other books of the Old Testament and of extra-biblical sources. The Chronicler was a strong advocate for the Second Temple and its clergy, with particular attention to the Levites, and held an inclusive view of Israel.
To explore the book with fellow scholars, Klein founded the Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah Section at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in the 1980s. For more than 25 years, this Section annually has brought together scholars from around the world to share their research.
Klein’s research on Chronicles took him to libraries in Berlin; Jerusalem; Cambridge England; and Marburg, Germany. His graduate seminars on Chronicles at LSTC and at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, deepened his engagement with the texts.
About Ralph Klein
Klein came to LSTC as part of the deployment of Christ Seminary-Seminex in 1983 and retired in 2008. From 1988-1999 and in the spring semester of 2005, he was Academic Dean at LSTC. Since his retirement, he teaches occasional courses at LSTC and is the Curator of the LSTC Rare Books Collection (http://collections.lstc.edu/). He regularly shows the treasures of this collection (writings by Luther, New Testament Greek manuscripts, and English Bibles of the 16th and 17th centuries) to lay groups and confirmation classes. Professor Klein has begun work, with Professor Carolyn Leeb of Valparaiso University, on a commentary on Daniel in the Wisdom Commentary Series. His website, The Old Testament and the Ancient Near East (http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/), provides links to thousands of resources for interpreting the Bible.
2 Chronicles is available from Fortress Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble ($68.00. ISBN 9780800661014).