"Ezra and Nememiah" (Volume 14 in the acclaimed Anchor Bible series) continue the spiritual history of Jerusalem begun in "II Chronicles"; they relate the retum of the Jewish people to their home from exile in Babylonia and the revitalization of the Jewish religion. Two remarkable personalities--with strikingly different approaches to the same objective--played dominant roles in this rebuilding of a nation. Ezra, the learned, pious, scribal priest, known among his contemporaries as "the second Moses," was the architect of spiritual reform. Nehemiah, the forceful, shrewd, resourceful administrator, was the master international politician. The importance of Ezra and Nememiah is, however, not only historical. With I and II Chronicles, believed to be written by the same author, Ezra and Nememiah comprise of an exceedingly complex jigsaw puzzle of parallels, direct quotes, and retellings, in some cases, of the same stories--all of which is, perhaps, more absorbing for the scholar than for the layman. But a study of Ezra and Nememiah--and the conclusions to which it leads--is crucial to an understanding of who wrote which portions of the Bible, how and when they came to be written, and what that understanding tells us ultimately about how the Bible, bit by bit over a period of almost a thousand years, came into being.
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