The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings

RESEARCH: The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings

"It is entitled The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, and is a dissertation on the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah."

It is certainly to the honor of God's cause when a Seventh-day Adventist worker makes a distinctive contribution to the field of literature, exerting definite influence in the religious world of today. With the appearance in recent years of scholarly research aimed at dispelling the uncertainty surrounding certain Biblical prophetic interpretations, especially as they affect the rise of the Advent Movement, we have entered a new era as a denomination.

In recent months religious scholars have been agreeably surprised at the outstanding chronological findings by one of our workers in the form of a careful volume prepared by Edwin R. Thiele, dean of theology at Emmanuel Missionary College. It is entitled The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, and is a dissertation on the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah. We are sure this work will not only strengthen the faith of our membership but will claim the respect of religious thinkers who may previously have been somewhat prejudiced.

Siegfried Horn, professor of archaeology and history of antiquity at our Theological Seminary, writes appreciatively regarding this volume in the accompanying book review. Our readers will also be interested in a number of noteworthy comments by outstanding church leaders and Old Testament scholars concerning this masterly work by Elder Thiele.

The following is taken from a review which appeared in The Christian Science Monitor:

"It is encouraging and even exciting to find a serious student of the Bible and eminent professor of religion offering this further and dramatic effort at reconciliation of Near East and Hebrew history. .Moreover, his work contributes to a growing respect for the accuracy of the Hebrew writings, handed down through many generations of scribes."

One of the best reviews to appear so far came from the pen of Charles M. Cooper in the Crozer Quarterly., October, 1951. Professor Cooper gives a very comprehensive outline of the findings and says some fine things about the work. He concludes with the following statement:

"This is an amazing achievement. It will stand as the definitive treatment o£ the problem and enable us to correct every other historical work on Israel down to and including the latest publications. . . . Every student of Thiele's book will find it, in Professor Irwin's phrase, a 'wholesome corrective for Old Testament scholarship.'"

In a personal letter to Elder Thiele, John C. Whitcomb, of Grace Theological Seminary, says:

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation for your masterful work. The arguments you present are wonderful in their exactitude and ingenuity, and I see no other possible solution to this vexing problem. Your book is most timely.

"To me the greatest significance of your work is the confirmation of the Massoretic Text. In view of the results of your work (which I consider to be the greatest Biblical discovery in modern times), must we not humbly bow our heads before Him who is the Author of the Holy Scriptures?"

Merril F. linger in the July-September, 1951, issue of Bibliotheca Sacra declares that The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings is-----

"invaluable in that it makes a careful analysis of Old Testament chronological data, defending their essential reliability, and sets forth the complex chronological principles employed by the Hebrew scribes. Scholars have customarily treated the chronology of the Hebrew monarchies in Kings and - Chronicles as largely erroneous. Thiele, however, constructively arrives at a chronological scheme containing internal harmony and squaring with established dates of contemporary documents. His valuable study is a vital contribution to the subject of Biblical chronology and will most certainly have a wide sphere of usefulness in an extremely difficult area of Old Testament research."

E. J. Goodspeed, famous translator of the Goodspeed Bible, calls Elder Thiele's work "a remarkable exploit," which he believes settles the whole chronological question and states his opinion that it will go down as "a classic on the subject."

Knowing the author personally, and having worked with him very closely during the years of his concentrated study, I am aware of his unselfish desire to share with the church a satisfactory answer to the stubborn chronological problems concerning the Hebrew monarchy. We sincerely believe he has accomplished his long- sought objective in a scholarly manner. Our ministerial workers will do well to avail themselves of this excellent volume.



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March 1952

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