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The Subversive Chronicler: Narrative Film Theory and Canon Criticism Refocus his Intention


The Subversive Chronicler is a challenge to the Chronicler’s theology as it is commonly understood and also as a refocusing of its difference from the historiography of Samuel —Kings.

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SKU: 978-1-910928-59-2

In 1 and 2 Chronicles, commentators have long noted a pattern of retributive justice whereby kings who comply with Yahweh’s will are rewarded with long life and honourable burial, whereas those who do not are disgraced. However, another pattern significantly emerges from a group of kings whose careers display an unexpected reversal. No convincing consensus has yet emerged to explain this reversal pattern.

By exploring and adopting the insights of narrative film theory, particularly of cognitive film semiotics, into the effects of macro-repetition, Son uncovers the implications of these unexpected reversals. As the reversal pattern is interwoven with the retributive pattern, the narrative emerges as a falsifying narration, provoking a deep scepticism about the conventional view of retribution theology.

Deleuzian film theory offers a crucial insight into how this falsifying narration works. The reversal pattern has a destabilizing effect, which suggests that the Chronicler’s theological outlook is more nuanced than that of Samuel —Kings, or perhaps even frankly subversive of it. From a canonical perspective, furthermore, the presence of the Chronicler’s work in the Ketuvim points to its potential function as a subtle theological readjustment in the postexilic Jewish community.

The Subversive Chronicler is then a challenge to the Chronicler’s theology as it is commonly understood and also as a refocusing of its difference from the historiography of Samuel —Kings.

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  1. D. Allen Hutchison, Review of Biblical Literature.

    [Buyoung Son] challeng[es] the ubiquity of retribution theology in Chronicles scholarship. Son recognizes that there is a strong retributive theology present in Chronicles but inquires further into the many examples in Chronicles where this retribution theology seems to be contradicted (what he calls a “reversal pattern”). He sees a parallel between how an ancient audience would have listened to an ancient narrative and how a modern audience views a film at a cinema, namely, in one consecutive sitting without interruptions. Using this bridge, Son applies narrative film theory to the reading of Chronicles to understand how an uninterrupted reading might impact interpretation. Narrative film theory provides a vocabulary for understanding the reversal pattern in Chronicles; the pattern is a “falsifying narration” communicating skepticism about the reliability of the retributive theology in Chronicles. …
    The primary strength of this book is its coherent schema for understanding difficult passages in Chronicles that do not fit the model of retribution theology. … Overall, I found Buyoung Son’s The Subversive Chronicler stimulating and helpful. Are these film concepts necessary for understanding Chronicles? Strictly speaking, no. However, as I read this book I realized that prior scholarship has not been quick to ask such questions of 1–2 Chronicles. Son’s use of film theory prompts a healthy conversation with excellent foundational questions about the many exceptions to the standard interpretative models for reading Chronicles.

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Buyoung Son
List Price
£55 / $75 / €65
Hebrew Bible Monographs, 83
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£27 / $37 / €32
ISBN 13 hardback
Page Extent
viii + 248
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