Sam, Chr & Josephus (Peter)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Sat Mar 17 09:19:08 EST 2001

Charles wrote:

>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?

Dear Charles,

The writing of 1 Esdras which was prior to Josephus. It was a separate book and
shows no relationship to Nehemiah at all.

>Second, is not the bulk of 1 Esdras a
>translation of portions [but not all] of Ezra and Nehemiah,

Definitely not. 1 Esdras is a translation of a Hebrew text, granted, but that Hebrew
text wasn't Ezra.

>again linking the two in one literary tradition?

Josephus is again important here. He uses 1 Esdras, not Ezra, and he uses a memoir
of Nehemiah which is quite different from the one that comes to us in Nehemiah. The
chapter of Ezra found in Nehemiah is in place at the end of the 1 Esdras material in
Josephus where one would expect it.

>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?

This is not my view at all. Both Ezra and Nehemiah as we have them today have come
to be out of the carving up of 1 Esdras's Vorlage. Note the odd chapter of Ezra in
Nehemiah. Most scholars these days to solve the dating problems want to date Ezra
well after Nehemiah's reputed time, yet we find an Ezra chapter in the middle of
Nehemiah! I can think of reasons for why it got there. How would you deal with the
dating problems if you want to take these texts at face value?

>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?

Hopefully, my position on these matters is clearer now.

>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 don't know about this. It seems like it's been filtered through more recent
centuries than ancient ones.

>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.

I definitely wouldn't be arguing the way I am. I am principally working with texts,
but, as I see it at the moment, the lack of acknowledgement of Ezra in second temple
times suggests that he is a late arrival on the literary scene. (This is not the
case for Nehemiah, for we have a number of attestations, which require that we are
more cautious with his memoir.)


>Thus I also find
>it equally difficult to believe that your argument from ben Sira has much
>weight the other way either.

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