Esdras is the Greek form of the name Ezra. The first book of Esdras is an alternative Greek version of part of 2 Chronicles, the whole of Ezra, and part of Nehemiah, and is included in the LXX together with the primary version of those works. It is therefore a work of history. In the Latin Vulgate the work is called 3 Esdras and is placed in an appendix in Catholic bibles. (The title 1 and 2 Esdras is accorded in the Vulgate to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.)

The book concentrates on the worship of the Temple and opens with an account of Josiah’s reform of 621 BCE and ends with Ezra’s reform (c. 440 BCE). Esdras includes an account of the history of Israel, from the last days of Judah and the destruction of the Temple (1: 55) in 586 BCE until the festivals epitomizing the restoration under Zerubbabel the governor under Darius (6: 27) who is noted as a descendant of David (5: 5) and to whom more importance is ascribed than in the book Haggai.

Chs. 3 to 14 of 2 Esdras, which was written in the 1st cent. CE, are a Jewish apocalypse consisting of revelations given in seven visions, published under the pseudonym of Ezra; there are Christian additions at the beginning and end which are sometimes designated respectively 5 and 6 Ezra. The rest of the work is sometimes also called 4 Esdras or 4 Ezra. It is known now only in various translations, including Latin, and is included in the appendix to the Vulgate. There is a remarkably honest discussion about human sin and how God deals with sinners, with a promise that the righteous will not lose their reward after they have died. Both 1 and 2 Esdras appear in the Apocrypha of Protestant Bibles (e.g. NRSV, REB). (Eastern Orthodox Christians regard 1 Esdras as deuterocanonical scripture.)