Point of View in the Book of Ezra -- By: A. Philip Brown II

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 162:647 (Jul 2005)
Article: Point of View in the Book of Ezra
Author: A. Philip Brown II

Point of View in the Book of Ezra

This is the third article in a four-part series “Studies in the Book of Ezra.”

A. Philip Brown II

A. Philip Brown II is Assistant Professor of Bible and Theology, God’s Bible School and College, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Every narrative reflects a point of view, whether with conscious intent or not, and the Book of Ezra is no exception. A literary analysis of Ezra would therefore be incomplete without consideration of its point of view and the implications of its point of view for the book’s theological message.

The Meaning of Point of View

Point of view influences how a story is told.1 It is the perspective from which an author presents the setting, characters, actions, and events of a narrative.2 Literary critics usually distinguish two elements in point of view: person and position.3 Person refers to the

one who tells the story, the narrator.4 The narrator may speak in the first person or third person. In first-person narration the narrator tells the story using first-person pronouns. In third-person narration the narrator recounts events “in the manner of an impersonal historical account.”5

Position, on the other hand, refers to the vantage point from which the narrator tells the story.6 The narrator’s position involves

both his knowledge and his values.7 In terms of knowledge the narrator may be either omniscient or limited. A first-person narrator invariably operates from a limited point of view, since the story filters though his eyes or consciousness and is restricted to his knowledge.8 On the other hand a third-person narrator may be “omniscient,” knowing everything inside out,9 or limited in knowledge, ranging from less than divine to more ignorant than his audience.10 Every narrator has an ideological standpoint from which he approaches his material. His evaluations of events and characters reflect his value system. Not only does the narrator’s value system play a role in...

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