Southeastern Theological Review
Ezra-Nehemiah is sometimes interpreted as a positive portrayal of the return of Israel from exile. Ezra 1 begins with a prophetic expectation of return and restoration. However, the conclusion of the book in Nehemiah 13 emphasizes that although the people have rebuilt the temple, restored the walls, and repopulated Jerusalem, they have still failed to keep the demands of the Mosaic covenant. The sober tone of this final chapter prompts a rereading of the narrative as a whole. Rereading the book in light of the conclusion highlights a distinct pattern of tensions throughout the story. A central textual strategy of the author subtly demonstrates the recurrence of pre-exilic conditions in the post-exilic community. Rather than a subsidiary appendix or epilogue, then, Nehemiah 13 represents perhaps the culminating capstone of the composition.
Ezra-Nehemiah, mosaic covenant, Nehemiah 13, textual strategy
Spellman, Ched E., "Nehemiah’s New Shadow: Reading and Rereading the Ezra-Nehemiah Narrative" (2018). Biblical and Theological Studies Faculty Publications. 437.