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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

1 Esdras - Introduction

First Esdras (also known as Esdras A or 3 Esdras) is a Greek version of biblical history from the celebration of Josiah's Passover * to the time of Ezra. First Esdras is canonical * for the Eastern Orthodox Church, but not for Protestants or Roman Catholics. Jerome condemned the book, but he translated it and placed it after the New Testament in the Vulgate. The relationship of 1 Esdras to canonical materials can be outlined as follows:

The most noticeable differences from the texts of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah are the inclusion of the Story of the Three Youths in 3.1–5.6 and the relocation of the verses equivalent to Ezra 4.7–24 . The inclusion of Neh 7.73–8.12 immediately after Ezra 10 has led to the hypothesis * that 1 Esdras is a fragment of a translation of an earlier edition of the Chronicler's History (1 and 2 Chronicles; Ezra; Nehemiah), to which the Nehemiah Memoir (Neh 1.1–7.73a; 11.1–2; 12.31–43; 13.4–31 ) had not yet been added. First Esdras seems to be a fragment of a longer work because it ends in the middle of a sentence and begins in the middle of the account of Josiah. Another interpretation * of this book considers the present text to be a complete and independent work, consisting of excerpts from Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah and the Story of the Three Youths that have been consciously crafted into a new literary entity. In this view, the abrupt beginning and incomplete final sentence would perhaps be the result of accidental damage to an early copy. The idea that 1 Esdras is a new literary entity has gained greater prominence as recent scholars have called into question whether there ever was a Chronicler's History consisting of all or parts of 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. The underlying Hebrew/Aramaic * original that the Greek text of 1 Esdras is assumed to be translating is apparently older and shorter than the Masoretic * text, the standard text of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was put into final form by Jewish scholars at the end of the first century CE.

Because of the relative age of the underlying Hebrew text, it is probable that the book was composed as early as the second century BCE. Since it was used by Josephus in his account of the Persian period, it must have come into existence in any case no later than the mid first century CE. The addition in 1.23–24 helps to resolve the dilemma created by Josiah's premature death while the Story of the Three Youths highlights the role of Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, and explains why Darius was moved to support the building of the Temple. * Neither addition suggests a specific date of composition.

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