The First Book Of Esdras -- By: Edwin Cone Bissell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:134 (Apr 1877)
Article: The First Book Of Esdras
Author: Edwin Cone Bissell

The First Book Of Esdras

Rev. E. C. Bissell

The title which this book bears in |the English Bible, and which we here adopt, was first given to it in 1560, by the translators of the so-called Genevan version. The Church of England, however, in its article of religion relating to the Scriptures, promulgated two years later, and again in 1571, following the usage of the Vulgate, calls it-the “Third Book of Esdras”; our present canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah being known, respectively, as “First,” and “Second Esdras.”1

In the Old Latin, Syriac, and Septuagint versions, on the other hand, it was designated as the “First Book of Ezra,” and held a corresponding position in the order of books. This was doubtless due to the nature of its contents, which include a somewhat earlier period of history than the books with which it is associated, and not, as Movers2 and Pohlmann3 strangely conjecture, on account of its superior age. The Codex Alexandrinus and some mss of the LXX name

the work ὁ ἱερεύς,— Ezra being regarded as a priest par excellence; while Jerome, in his Prologus galeatus or “Helmed Prologue” (to give a free translation to this title), reckons the work among the “apocryphal “books of the Old Testament, under the name of “Pastor,” and is followed, in this respect, by some writers at a later period (Petrus Comestor, c. a.d. 1170). On the basis of this fact it has been asserted, even by so sagacious a critic as Credner, that Jerome classed the well-known Pastor Hermae with the Old Testament Apocrypha.4

By Isidore of Seville (Origg. 6:2) the book is entitled the “Second Book of Ezra”; Nehemiah and the canonical Ezra being regarded as the First Book. In times still more modern, writers have inaccurately applied to it such titles as the “Pseudo-Ezra,” and the “Apocryphal Ezra,” which might easily lead to confounding the work with what is known in the English Bible as “Second Esdras.” A fit title, both as it respects convenience and definiteness, would be the “Greek Ezra”; this distinguishes the book alike from the canonical Ezra with its Hebrew original, and from the “Apocalypse of Ezra,” which is extant in a Latin text only.

I. Contents and Scope. — The contents of the book are as follows:

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