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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Ezra: A Commentary
Fried, Lisbeth S.

Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2015 pp. xviii + 468. $95.00

Series Information
Critical Commentaries, 1

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Description: Lisbeth Fried's commentary on Ezra is the first instalment of a projected two-volume commentary on Ezra–Nehemiah. It is the first full-length scholarly commentary on Ezra–Nehemiah to be written since 1988 and takes advantage of recent results in archaeology, of recent historical studies on the Persian Empire, and of recent studies of the influence of Hellenistic textual and legal traditions on Judean thought. It also draws extensively on the author’s own research into the mechanisms by which the Persian Empire dominated and controlled its subject populations. The present volume includes a new translation of the Book of Ezra, plus annotations on each verse that compare and contrast the Greek, Latin and Syriac variations, including the text of Greek Esdras A. It also provides an extensive Introduction and chapter commentaries that discuss larger historical and literary issues. Fried concludes that Ezra–Nehemiah was written as one book at the beginning of the Hellenistic period. Although written then, it was formed from earlier texts: an Ezra memoir, a letter to Ezra from Artaxerxes II, and a Nehemiah memoir. All of these have been heavily edited, however. Fried concludes that both Ezra and Nehemiah were Persian officials, Ezra a Persian episkopos, and Nehemiah a Persian governor, and that both acted with the goals of their Persian overlords in mind, not the goals of the subject Judean population. The Judean author, writing under Hellenic domination, transformed these men into Judean heroes in order to promote the novel idea of a long tradition of foreign imperial support for local institutions—cultic, legal and physical.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Historical Books, Ezra, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches

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Review by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi
Published 6/21/2018
Citation: Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, review of Lisbeth S. Fried, Ezra: A Commentary, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2018).


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