Bible Book of the Month for June 22, 1959, was Nehemiah. Much of what was said concerning title and date for that book is relevant for the Book of Ezra, for there is every evidence that the two formerly existed as one. Ordinarily, Masoretic notations occur at the end of a book in the Hebrew Bible as an indication of the book’s conclusion. This was a technique used for the preservation of textual purity. No such notation occurs at the close of our present Book of Ezra. However, we find notations at the conclusion of Nehemiah and these have reference to the material of both Ezra and Nehemiah, an indication that the two were considered together. Similar Masoretic notations were used to indicate the middle of a book, as in the case of Nehemiah 3:32. Here the remarks are further evidence of unity, for Nehemiah 3:32 is the middle of the Ezra-Nehemiah material. However, as early as around A.D. 400, both Latin and Greek Christians were treating Ezra and Nehemiah as separate books. One cannot be certain whether both parts are by one author or whether the Masoretes may have placed the two together because they dealt with similar settings and situations. A tracing of their exact relationship to each other is difficult due to (1) the various titles by which the books are called and (2) the internal textual variation. Sometimes the two are called I Esdras and at times, II Esdras. Generally, however, the title I Esdras is used to refer to a certain Greek rendering of Ezra which has as its introduction a duplication of the material from 2 Chronicles 35:1–36:21, and which internally has a different arrangement of the text. Our present Ezra 4:7–24 follows 1:3–11. In addition, there is other interpolated material which the usual biblical ...1
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