Der Bericht Nehemias: Zur literarischen Eigenart, traditionsgeschichtlichen Pragung und innerbiblischen Rezeption des Ich-Berichts Nehemias, by Titus Reinmuth. OBO 183. Freiburg: Universitatsverlag, 2002. Pp. xiii + 381. euro;51.80. ISBN 3727813776.
Reinmuth begins his study by noting that, despite other positive developments in the field of Persian-period studies, Nehemiah has not attracted much attention in recent years: "Um Nehemia ist es still geworden" (p. 1). To some extent, this apparent neglect can be explained on the basis of more general hermeneutical shifts within second Temple studies away from concerns with individuals and their achievements toward social structures or constitutive elements in the religious and political infrastructure of Persian Yehud. Perhaps especially the "perils of autobiography" associated with the first-person narrative of Nehemiah have elicited caution rather than confidence with respect to our ability to reconstruct information about specific historical persons and the texts associated with them. Thus, Reinmuth's book is virtually the first comprehensive study of the Nehemiah narrative since Ulrich Kellermann, Nehemia: Quellen, Uberlieferung und Geschichte (BZAW 102; Berlin: Topelmann, 1967), and indeed Kellermann represents an important conversation partner for Reinmuth throughout his book. As such, Reinmuth is to be commended for addressing a topic that has been dormant for over thirty years. On the other hand, one may perhaps wonder why such a study is conducted now and how it is situated among the more recent approaches to biblical literature from the Persian period.
Methodologically, Reinmuth's study is characterized by the analysis of key words and their function in Nehemiah and other biblical texts. The use of language (Sprachgebrauch) in its syntactical, semantic, and structural aspects (p. 19) is central to his reading of the text. Nevertheless, Reinmuth's general orientation is decidedly diachronic, as one would expect from a study concerned with the redaction of sources and the history of traditions. A significant theoretical influence with regard to exegesis is Odil Hannes Steck (Exegese des Alten Testaments: Leitfaden der Methodik [12th ed.; NeukirchenVluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1989]), who emerges as a leading voice in Reinmuth's discussion of new approaches to literary criticism (pp. 25-28). Also noted are James A. Sanders on canonical criticism (Canon and Community [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984]) and Michael Fishbane on intertextuality and tradition criticism (Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel [Oxford: Clarendon, 1985]). he occasionally refers to synchronie approaches to biblical narrative, such as studies by Tamara Eskenazi, Meir Sternberg, or D. J. A. Clines, but otherwise he makes relatively little use of what is generally identified as new literary criticism among English-speaking scholars.
Reinmuth's book has a certain commentary-like quality. …