Was Nehemiah Contemporary with Ezra in 458 BC? -- By: Leslie McFall
WTJ 53:2 (Fall 1991) p. 263
Was Nehemiah Contemporary with Ezra in 458 BC?
The dominant factor affecting any study of the theology or literary arrangement of Ezra-Nehemiah is the question of the dates given to the missions of Ezra and Nehemiah.1 In this article it will be suggested that Nehemiah’s first visit commenced in the year 465 and his second in 445 (all dates are BC). These new dates will have implications for the literary arrangement of his book and set his missions in a new relationship to Ezra’s work.
Scholarly opinion since the turn of the century has accepted the immovability of Nehemiah. He has become the fixed point in the discussion.2 By contrast, throughout the past
WTJ 53:2 (Fall 1991) p. 264
WTJ 53:2 (Fall 1991) p. 265
Artaxerxes II (398);7 the 7th of Artaxerxes III (351);8 the 27th of Artaxerxes I (438);9 the 32rd of Artaxerxes I (433);10 the 37th of Artaxerxes I (428);11 the 37th of Artaxerxes II (367);12 while some have even regarded him as the invention of the Chronicler—a fiction of his imagination.13 The caustic remark of C. C. Torrey is typical of this viewpoint:
No fact of Old Testament criticism is more firmly established than this; that the Chronicler, as a historian, is thoroughly untrustworthy. He distorts facts
WTJ 53:2 (Fall 1991) p. 266
deliberately and habitually; invents chapter after chapter with the greatest freedom; and, what is most dangerous of all, his history is not written for its own sake, but in the interest of an extremely one-sided theory.14
Of these dates the only serious contenders—to judge by modern treatments of the subject—are the 7th of Artaxerxes I (458)15 and the 7th of Artaxerxes II (398)....
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