Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

1 Esdras: From Origin to Translation

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

1 Esdras: From Origin to Translation

Article excerpt

I Esdras: Form Origin to Translation, by Zipora Talshir. SBLSCS 47. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Litrature, 1999. Pp. xii + 305. $57.00

This book is a study of the formation of the book of 1 Esdras from three different angles represented by three distinct chapters. The first chapter examines the composition of the book, specifically the debate over whether the book is best understood as a fragment of an earlier edition of the "Chronicler's History" in which Chronicles and Ezra were joined or a later compilation of mostly canonical materials. Talshir contends that neither of these options is entirely correct but that 1 Esdras represents a section deliberately lifted from Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah and adapted specifically for the purpose of accommodating the Story of the Three Youths (1 Esd 3:1-5:6), which is therefore the book's raison d'etre. The book likely began with Josiah's Passover, but its ending has probably been broken off. The continuity of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah predates I Esdras. But the author of I Esdras made changes in his Vorlage, not the least of which was the deletion of the Nehemiah memoir so as to substitute the Davidide Zerubbabel for Nehemiah in the Story of the Three Youths.

The second chapter focuses on the relationship of the text of 1 Esdras to its Vorlage in 2 Chr 35-36, Ezra 1-10, and Neh 8. Three categories of textual differences are considered: variants, word order, and additions/omissions, with the last category occupying by far the largest portion of the chapter. Talshir challenges R. Klein's well-known 1966 text-critical study ("Studies in the Greek Text of the Chronicler" [Ph.D. diss., Harvard University]). While she agrees with Klein that 1 Esdras is a faithful translation of a variant text from that of the MT, she contends that the two texts developed independently to such an extent that it is not possible to reconstruct a shorter Urtext by comparing them. They do not represent different stages in the chronological development of a single text but independent developments from a common ancestor that cannot be distinguished because the condition of each text when they took separate routes is unknown. She criticizes Klein for misconstruing the evidence because of an a priori assumption that the text of 1 Esdras is shorter and more original. Rather, both texts have experienced additions as well as omissions.

The third chapter analyzes the translation of 1 Esdras in comparison with that of the LXX with respect to the canonical parallels. …

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