Why is Chronicles so similar to Kings? Consider these two passages:

  1. Ⅱ Kings 22
  2. Ⅱ Chronicles 34

It's almost the same word for word. Were they originally the same book that got forked out like open source software?

  • 1
    Those two don't match up anywhere near as accurately as II Kings 18:13-20:21 and Isaiah 36:1-39:8. It looks to me like the Kings chapters were originally written and then appended to Isaiah, since Isaiah goes from poetry to prose there. Chronicles is written with a strict Levite emphasis on the Judean kingdom, while Kings goes back and forth between the two kingdoms, and was probably written first. The genealogies at the beginning of Chronicles were probably part of a separate document--they go all the way down to Jaddua, Kohen Gadol in Alexander the Great's days.
    – Gary
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 16:02
  • So it's a bunch of different books copied and pasted together
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 5:20
  • Hi Jim! If by "it" you mean Chronicles, absolutely, probably only two, the genealogies and then the history part. Most of the other books, IMHO, started with the original writing and then as history went on, parts were added--to the historical books to add details/continue the story--or, for the prophets, there were different collections of oracles and/or commentary became incorporated when the scrolls were being hand copied. The Dead Sea Scrolls had long and short versions of Jeremiah, and I'm pretty sure Jeremiah himself didn't insert the ONE line of Aramaic into his otherwise Hebrew book.
    – Gary
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 0:14
  • On the other hand, for the Torah itself, dogma aside, the DSS show far fewer editions of the texts, basically only 3 that existed by 200BCE--the Proto-Masoretic(the basis of the one used for Torahs today), a fuller, expanded version, and the version that pretty much matches the Septuagint. AFter the Bar-Kochba Revolt, the Masoretic edition became dominant. But straight out copy, scramble, n paste, like the JEPD theorists suppose, is just plain unlikely. Biblical Archaeology Review has published a lot of articles on the different texts' development.
    – Gary
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 0:24
  • So most of Tanach is not "original"
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


According to scholarly research, the Book of Chronicles is either based on the Book of Kings, or both works are based on earlier books, which have since been lost. (The book itself names its sources in many places.) It is likely that the book is based on some combination of the above, in addition to commentary (midrash) on the Book of Kings.

I highly recommend that you read the Encyclopedia Judaica article on the Book of Chronicles, as it addresses your question in depth. (Can't post link due to paywall; sorry.) For a list of the sources mentioned in Chronicles, please see the commentary of the "Anchor Bible" or the "Old Testament Library."

For a traditional view on the book, I recommend that you read the introduction in the commentary by "Artscroll" (English) or "Daat Mikra" (Hebrew).

Relevant quotes from the Jewish Encyclopedia:

A superficial examination of the Books of Kings makes clear the fact that it is a compilation and not an original composition. The compiler, or editor, constantly cites certain of his sources. In the case of Solomon it is "the book of the acts of Solomon" (I Kings xi. 41); for the Northern Kingdom it is "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel," which is cited seventeen times, i.e., for all the kings except Jehoram and Hoshea (see, e.g., ib. xv. 31); and for the kings of Judah it is "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah," which is cited fifteen times, i.e., for all the kings except Ahaziah, Athaliah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (see, e.g., ib. xv. 7). Whether the editor had access to these "chronicles," as they were deposited in the state archives, or simply to a history based upon them, can not with certainty be determined. It is generally assumed that the latter was the case (comp. Kuenen, "Historisch-Kritische Einleitung in die Bücher des Alten Testaments," p. 68, and Cornill, "Einleitung in das Alte Testament," p. 123).

Jewish Encyclopedia, "Book of Kings"

It is clear that Chronicles contains matter taken either directly or indirectly from Kings, because it includes verses inserted by the editor of Kings (compare II Chron. xiv. 1, 2 and I Kings xv. 8, 11). Either Chronicles used Kings and "The Book of the Kings," both of which works used the older "Chronicles" (so Driver, "Introduction to the Literature of the O. T." 6th ed., p. 532), or Chronicles used "The Book of the Kings," which had used both Kings and the older "Chronicles," or works based on them.

Jewish Encyclopedia, "Book of Chronicles"

  • I'd summarize the Artscroll or Daat Mikra, but I don't own a copy.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 4:36
  • So not only we don't have "original" some books are definitely evolving.
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 3:30
  • 1
    I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to, but it's fairly obvious that we don't have the original manuscripts. I'm not sure what you mean by "evolving" - it does not appear that this book was constantly being modified or added to.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 3:19

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