vrijdag 1 februari 2013

Review of: Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezra—Nehemiah: A Commentary (OTL), The Westminster Press (WJK), 1988

Joseph Blenkinsopp, EzraNehemiah: A Commentary (OTL), The Westminster Press (WJK), 1988

Review in: Interpretation 1990 44: 310
Review door: Mark A. Throntveit
Gevonden op: http://int.sagepub.com/content/44/3/310.1.full.pdf+html

EzraNehemiah: A Commentary, by JOSEPH BLENKINSOPP. THE OLD TESTAMENT LIBRARY. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1988. 366 pp. $29.95.

IN THIS WELCOME ADDITION to the Old Testament Library Series, Blenkinsopp writes out of the conviction that a historical study of the Second Temple period is both necessary and attainable. It is necessary because it is not enough to study contemporary Jewish "backgrounds" to understand the relationship of early Christianity to the varieties of Judaism in which it arose. Rather, the formative period of the two centuries of Persian rule with such pressing issues as conflicting legal traditions, relation to the outside world, proselytism, assimilationist tendencies, and response to the political status quo must be investigated as well. As our primary source for this period, the study of Ezra-Nehemiah is indispensable.

By the same token, a historical study of the Second Temple period is also attainable, for recent emphasis upon reading biblical texts with an eye to their function in the canon has allowed us to see the Books of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah as a second corpus of historical material. This corpus reinterprets the earlier corpus, which stretches from Genesis through Kings, in light of the tragedy of the Babylonian Exile and thereby returns that history to emergent Judaism.

On the whole, Blenkinsopp succeeds. His translation of the text is well done and draws upon the extant Qumran material. One can applaud his concern for the literary shaping of the text as well as the insights he draws from relevant extrabib-lical materials, especially those of Egyptian provenance. While his championing of the common authorship of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah will not satisfy every participant in this controversial issue, his careful argumentation and gathering of data will contribute to the debate. The reviewer's belief that one's opinions in this regard seem to color the interpretation of Chronicles more than that of Ezra-Nehemiah was confirmed to a large extent in working through this commentary. Only in isolated instances would a presupposition of separate authorship obviate Blenkinsopp's conclusions with regard to specific texts.

Luther Νorthwestern Theological Seminary

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