[b-hebrew] Inspiration

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Wed Aug 3 10:05:49 EDT 2005

If we follow the storyline of the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, wouldn't  
the high priest at that time be Eliashib (Neh 3:1, 20; 13:28)?

On Aug 3, 2005, at 4:06 AM, Peter Kirk wrote:

> On 03/08/2005 12:25, Yigal Levin wrote:
>> The basic Jewish tradition, found in the Talmud and in later  
>> sources, is
>> that Ezra collected the earier books (and wrote a few of his own),  
>> perhaps
>> decided between different versions, and declared these books, and  
>> no others,
>> to be "Scripture" (in Christian terms, this would be called  
>> canonization).
>> He was able to do this because, in Jewish tradition, he had three  
>> "hats": he
>> was "Ezra the scribe", basically what later became known as a  
>> "rabbi", and
>> in Jewish tradition he was the head of the high rabbinical court (the
>> "Knesset Hagedolah" or Great Assembly, the later Sanhedrin). This  
>> gave him
>> the legal authority. He was also a prophet; the Talmud identifies  
>> him with
>> Malachi, the last of the prophets. So he also had the  
>> "inspiration" - and
>> yes, I think that that is a perfectly appropriate term. He was  
>> also High
>> Priest, so that he also had the "ritual authority". However, you  
>> should
>> remember that this is Talmudic tradition, written down almost 1000  
>> years
>> after Ezra. The book of Ezra itself makes no such claims. ...
> The book of Ezra calls Ezra "the priest" (HAKKOHEN) and "the scribe"
> (HASSOPER) (Ezra 7:11 etc). There is no other named High Priest in his
> period, assuming that Joshua (active when Haggai prophesied in 520  
> BCE)
> was dead by the time of Ezra's arrival in Jerusalem (generally  
> reckoned
> as c. 458 BCE). The only other priest named in Ezra's time is Meremoth
> (Ezra 8:33). Ezra is described as "son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah,
> the son of Hilkiah..." (7:1). Could this Seraiah have been the High
> Priest taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:18)? Well, the
> time frame seems rather too long. Could this Hilkiah have been the  
> High
> Priest of Josiah's time? This makes more sense, although the  
> generations
> are still rather long unless some have been skipped. Anyway, it is not
> unreasonable to conclude just from the Bible that Ezra was at least
> acting as High Priest at the time, perhaps because he was the senior
> surviving and available descendant of the high priestly line.  
> Perhaps he
> avoided calling himself "High Priest" because there was some doubt  
> about
> his formal status. But the Talmudic tradition is certainly a  
> reasonable
> inference from the biblical picture.
> But as for Ezra being a prophet, it is interesting that there is no  
> sign
> in the books of Ezra or Nehemiah of him speaking in the name of God,
> only of him speaking to God and instructing the people in his own  
> words
> and the words of the Torah. The biblical picture seems to suggest that
> the era of prophetic activity had already finished, and was being
> superseded by an era of dependence on written sources. And, as you  
> point
> out later, the books attributed to Ezra are in Jewish tradition
> considered "inspired" but not "prophetic". Of course this leaves open
> (if the Talmudic tradition is not relied on) the question of who wrote
> the book of Malachi, and when.
>> ... From our sources
>> from the Second Temple period, including the DDS, the LXX, the  
>> Apocrypha,
>> Josephus, Philo etc., we know that the canonization of scripture  
>> in Judaism
>> was a long process, and that Ezra, whatever his role was, was the  
>> starting
>> point, not the conclusion. The Hebrew Bible achieved its more-or- 
>> less final
>> form only after the destruction of the Second Temple, probably in  
>> the 2nd or
>> even 3rd century.
> Surely there is good evidence somewhat earlier than this, of a more or
> less fixed canon by the 1st century? The DSS and the New Testament  
> more
> or less agree in which books they quote as authoritative. And the
> "apocryphal" books in the LXX etc, even those originally written in
> Hebrew e.g. Sirach, never seemed to have been considered part of the
> Hebrew "canon".
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
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R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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