Sam, Chr & Josephus (Peter)

Charles David Isbell cisbell at
Sat Mar 17 08:26:51 EST 2001


You are putting far too much weight on an argument from silence re. ben Sira
without facing exactly what that silence does and does not consist of.
First of all, the Book of Ezra was not considered separate from Nehemiah
until when, Origen? Jerome?  Second, is not the bulk of 1 Esdras a
translation of portions [but not all] of Ezra and Nehemiah, again linking
the two in one literary tradition?  So how do you reason that a book [1
Esdras] that quotes two other sources as you view them [Ezra and Nehemiah]
is earlier than the two sources it translates?  Third, the present Book of
Nehemiah contains all of the subjects whose omission from "Ezra" you are
worried about: Ezra [by name!] reading the Torah, the Levites assigned to
explain, censure against non-Jewish wives, etc.  Fourth, since ben Sira does
mention Nehemiah by name, how quickly should one leap to the conclusion that
the version of Nehemiah being read by ben Sira omitted Ezra?

Note, for one example of the way ben Sira weighted things, how much more
attention he gives to the political figure of Hezekiah than to the prophet
Isaiah, though he does of course mention Isaiah.  I find it difficult to
believe that if ben Sira had simply included a short phrase with Ezra's name
in it you would believe your  argument mortally wounded.  Thus I also find
it equally difficult to believe that your argument from ben Sira has much
weight the other way either.

Charles David Isbell

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