Composition of the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah


Approximate date: 440 B.C.E.-Ezra, 430 B.C.E.-Nehemiah (Right, some conservative-moderate); late 400s-early 300s (some conservative-moderate, some Left); 350-250 B.C.E. (some Left)

Time period: return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon, reestablishing a presence in Jerusalem

Author: Ezra (Right; some conservative-moderate); an anonymous Chronicler or historian (some conservative-moderate, some Left); unidentified redactors (some Left)

Location of author: Land of Israel, probably Jerusalem (Right, conservative-moderate, Left)

Target audience and their location: Jewish exiles having returned from Babylonian captivity (Right, conservative-moderate, Left)

Theological Summary: The story of Ezra and Nehemiah begins where Chronicles ends, detailing the religious and social developments of the Second Temple Jewish community having returned from Babylonian exile. Ancient tradition regards these texts as a single book from two distinct perspectives: Ezra dealing with the reestablishment of the Temple, and Nehemiah focusing on the reconstruction and restoration of Jerusalem. The text is named for its two principal protagonists: Ezra and Nehemiah. The material covers events from the Fifth to Fourth Centuries B.C.E. Its history closes the events of the Tanach or Old Testament canon.

Both Josephus and the Talmud refer to Ezra, but not to Nehemiah as a separate book, indicating that they were unified as one book sometime by the First Century B.C.E. The oldest copies of the Greek Septuagint considered it a single book, with the division between Ezra and Nehemiah not occurring in printed Hebrew Bibles until the Fifteenth Century.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages