Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Who Wrote the Bible - Part IV - Ezra has the Book

After uncovering the author of D Richard Friedman moves into describing the period of the Bible’s formation from 587-400 BC. There is very little biblical narrative that deals with the exile and also little archeological evidence.

Life was difficult in Babylon as Judah’s religion did not allow for easy adaptation into the pagan pantheon. This period is characterized as having history and theology on a crash course. “Is Yahweh a national God? If so, he is left behind in Judah, and the people are cut off from him exile. This very question is asked by the author of Psalm 137, ‘How shall we sing a song of Yahweh on foreign soil?’ Or is Yahweh a universal God? And if so, why did he let this disaster happen?” The answer of course for many was that it was their fault. The exile forced Judah to reconceive theology and worship. It was however only 50 years later that the people were allowed to return to Judah. The Persian king who overthrew Babylon allowed the people to return and to rebuild their Temple. By 516 the Temple was rebuilt, though with considerably less ‘stuff’, no ark or cherubim or Urim and Thummin. It was only Aaronid priests who were legitimate priests. Levites were assistants. Ezra came to Judah in 458 BC. He was a priest and a scribe and was known like Moses as a lawgiver. Ezra also had the authority of the Persian emperor. Ezra has the torah read to the people and in these readings F. finds material from JE, D, and P. From this he believes that Ezra had the complete five books of Moses. At this point F. has left out P with very clear intent.

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