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4 Ezra (2 Esdras) (Researcher: Robert Hayward):
Selected Inventory point(s):
1.1 The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): The text mentions its own existence and implies or mentions its own boundedness.

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1.1 The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): The text mentions its own existence and implies or mentions its own boundedness.

1.1.1 The text refers to itself using a genre term, speech act term, verb or other term implying verbal constitution: The text as a whole opens with a declaration that it constitutes "the book of the prophet Ezra", a description reinforced by a divine command to Ezra towards the end of the book (15:1-2), to speak "the words of the prophecy...and make them to be written on paper". Ezra's place in the structure of the text is indicated also by 8:19, which quotes "words" or "words of the prayer" of Ezra.

1.1.2 [The text speaks of itself as dealing with an overall theme (subject matter) or purpose, or as consisting of coordinated parts making a whole: The theme is Israel's sin and her resulting Exile, the destruction of Jerusalem, and Israel's continuing sense of being under divine judgement. This common subject matter undergoes theological and prophetic treatments of various kinds throughout the text.]

1.1.4 The text introduces the governing voice, thereby indirectly marking its own boundedness: (see also under 2). The governing voice is called Ezra, the text as a whole being introduced as his "book". He speaks in the first person (1:4)noting "the word of the Lord came to me"; "I, Salathiel, who am also called Ezra..." (3:1); "a voice came out of a bush...and said: Ezra, Ezra!" (14:1).

1.7 The text’s Inventory profile should be seen in the light of the following further information on completeness, thematic progression, aesthetic effects, etc.: / Overview of Parts: Students of this text are almost unanimous in perceiving it to be composite, that is, made up of three separate part-texts, namely, chapters 1-2 (sometimes called 5 Ezra); chapters 3-14 (4 Ezra/2 Esdras proper); and chapters 15-16 (sometimes called 6 Ezra). The opening declaration in 1:1, that before us lies "the book of the prophet Ezra", is in no way incompatible with the contents of the text as a whole, which can claim affinity with biblical prophecy in one way or another.

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2.1 The information conveyed in the text defines the perspective of the governing voice in the following way:

2.1.2 The governing voice thematizes how it comes to know the text’s contents or its right to command obedience from the text’s addressee. Its perspective is presented as limited, referring either to evidence, or to personal experience (mere human knowledge): Ezra "the prophet" receives communications and has experiences whose contents the text conveys.

2.1.2.3 The governing voice suggests its information or advice is based on his or her own experiences, or on other knowledge filtered by reflections on personal experience: The governing voice is Ezra, explicitly designated a prophet, whose knowledge of things outside himself, either visual or aural, derives directly either from God, or from an angel, or from a vision or auditory experience initiated by God. The section chapters 3-14 strongly reflects and describes the personal experiences of the governing voice, experiences from which the intended addressee is expected to learn. These experiences are sometimes described in great detail.

2.1.3 Knowledge or authority of the text is presented as exceeding what the persona projected by the governing voice would ordinarily be able to achieve (e.g., supernatural or non-human mediators and informants): The governing voice (Ezra) throughout is the recipient of knowledge beyond human ken which derives either directly from God, or from the named angel Uriel.

2.1.5 The information in the text is characterized as secret or as (made) known exclusively to the persona projected by the governing voice: 14:23 orders Ezra to take writing tablets and five persons to record a divinely given knowledge. In the event (14:37-48) Ezra is told to drink a liquid, under whose influence he acquires understanding and wisdom which he dictates to the five men. Of the books which they compose under Ezra's guidance, 24 are to be made public; but 70 are to be given only to "the wise among your people". They are said to contain "the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the river of knowledge".

2.2 A first-person voice imposes its perspective on all (or almost all) knowledge or norms conveyed in the text: (AS).

2.2.1 The first-person governing voice is identified by an anonymous voice through a proper name or unique description. Points 2.2.1.1–3 are devoted to the anonymous voice; all other points presuppose the knowledge horizon of the first-person voice, unless otherwise indicated: (AS).

2.2.1.3 The introduction of the first-person governing voice of the text has the following characteristics (also applies to self-identification 2.2.2):

2.2.1.3.1 It contextualizes the person, or the person together with a unique occasion of speaking: introducing the book of Ezra the prophet, providing him with genealogy, and situating him in the country of the Medes in the time of Artaxerxes king of Persia.

2.2.1.3.3 It is found at the beginning of the text only.

2.2.2 The first person voice identifies itself by name or uniquely identifying expression (once or repeatedly): after having first been introduced by a framing voice. A framing voice is provided by 1:1-3 introducing the "book of the prophet Ezra", who then states (1:4) "The word of the Lord came to me...". There is another self-introduction, using two names, in 4Ez 3:1: "I, Salathiel, who am also called Ezra..."

2.2.4 The number and gender of the first-person governing voice are as follows:

2.2.4.1 The first person singular is used.

2.2.4.4 The first person forms are marked for gender: masculine.

2.4 The governing voice defines a horizon of knowledge as shared with the projected addressee by taking for granted the following linguistic usages or references (in selection): (Jewish) sanctuary (10:21; 12:48; 15:25); altar (10:21); sacred objects of the Jerusalem Temple and its service (10:22).

2.4.1 Persons or unique objects referred to by proper name or by technical expression:

2.4.1.1 for persons mentioned or presented in narrative usage; as characters; or topics, for example: the vast majority of characters are to be found in the Bible. Approximately 50 such names (allowing for variations between ms. witnesses to the text) are in evidence. Five named individuals not known from the Bible are catalogued at 14:24. Of particular importance is Ezra's identification with Salathiel at 3:1, and a mention of the biblical character Daniel (12:11), who is described as Ezra's brother: "quod visum est in visu Danihelo fratri tuo".

2.4.1.2 for persons quoted with direct speech in a non-narrative co-text, for example: the archangel Uriel, who is a frequent interlocutor with Ezra from 4:1 onwards. He is introduced without explanation.

2.4.1.3 for Gods/mythical figures/supernatural beings, etc., for example: the God of Israel is spoken of as "omnipotens" (1:15), "altissimus" (4:£, and frequently), "dominator" (3:4); Uriel the archangel is mentioned frequently.

2.4.1.4 for locations, for example: approximately 20 of these are named, the vast majority of them being found also in biblical books. Exceptions are Ardat (9:26)and Arzareth (13:45). Of the geographical places named, Zion is the most frequent (around 17 occasions), followed by Egypt (10 times). Mythical locations include "abyssus" (4:7, 8 - in latter parallel with "infernum", which reappears in 4:4); "paradise" (4:7; 7:53; 8:52).

2.4.1.5 for times or calendar dates (specific to a language or culture), for example: "in the reign of Artaxerses, kings of the Persians" (1:3); "the thirtieth year after the destruction of the city" (3:1). The Jewish calendar seems presupposed at 1:31, with references to festival days and new moons.

2.4.1.6 for documents, texts, books, etc. (identified through being referred to or quoted), for example: The Law (1:8; 2:40; 7:17; 9:11, 32, 36-37; 14:21, 30); heavenly books (6:20); book to be laid up in secret (12:37); 24 books and seventy books written at Ezra's dictation, first group made public, the second reserved for the wise (14:37:48).

2.4.3 The text as a whole routinely employs the following language(s), knowledge of which is taken for granted: Latin, though its original language is likely to have been Hebrew (or possibly Aramaic), the Latin betraying many marks of this. Thus: "et factum est"; "respondere et dicere"; use of participle followed by finite verb to render (probably) infinitive absolute constructions, "festinans festinat". See list prepared by Myers, pages 115-117. Place names Arzaret (13:45) may be corruption of Hebrew for "another land".

2.4.4.4 Biblicizing language, such that the text may be assumed to project itself as having a link to texts today known as biblical (see 7.1.4.1): Throughout the text, the language used recalls that associated with biblical prophecy.

2.5 The text contains deictic or other expressions referring to the governing voice’s time or place, or place it after/before some key event: at 15:21, there is a reference put into God's mouth to the punishment of the kings for their harsh treatment of Israel "as they have done to my elect until this day".

2.5.2 as part of the words of a quoted character, but with probable implications also for the governing voice.

2.6 The text presents itself as speaking to certain persons, groups or entities, explicitly projecting a certain image of its addressee.

2.6.1 The governing voice uses apostrophe, second-person grammatical forms or first-person exclusive or inclusive “we”: Ezra presents himself as addressing the "nations that hear and understand" in 4Ezr 2:34, and addresses "Zion" in 2:40. The expression "my people" appears usually within what is clearly marked as quoted divine speech (and thus not on the level of Ezra as the speaking voice of the text; e.g. 4Ezr 1:5; 2:24, 48; the same goes for the apostrophes "father/brother", 1:38; "mother", 2:15; 30; "nurse", 2:25; ); But in 16:40 it is possible that "my people" is meant to be outside quoted speech.

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4.1 The text narrates events which are strongly emplotted, making reference to interlocking happenings, characters, motivations, causes, times or locations.

4.1.4 The narrative foregrounds apparently exact information on the absolute and relative timing of events: in that a year is given, and additionally several sets of periods of fasting.

4.2 The event sequence projected as related to the sequence of text parts as follows:

4.2.1 The report sequence mirrors the projected chronological sequence of events mostly or wholly, not precluding 4.2.2–5: in that the sequential conversations and visions are presented by belonging to successive periods of time, connected by periods of fasting, etc., so that the impression of a continuous flow of time is created by the sequence of text parts.

4.2.3 There are chronological gaps which are explicitly managed or signposted: the periods of fasting are marked as not requiring any narrative detail.

4.3 The text presents several sets of internally complex episodes with no explicit or manifest causal or motivational nexus between them. Where characters are identical, or linked, they do not figure in one continuous set of events: The various visions and conversations are presented as chronological, but to some extent independent of each other.

4.3.1 The episodes have a common main character, or several characters of approximately equal narrative prominence, who is the subject of the action: Ezra is the partner in all conversations, or subject of the visions.

4.11 Supernatural characters appear in the narrative, whether introduced casually, or accounted for elaborately.

4.13 The narrative pace is slowed down or changed by frequent or prominent quotation of speech, thought or text. (AS)

4.13.1 The quotation constitutes a plot-driving event in its own right. (AS)

4.13.1.2 The narrative action largely or partly consists of a report on (long) speeches exchanged between characters. (AS)

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5.1 The bulk of the text is constituted by thematic discourse/description, albeit presented as speech/wording quoted from a narrative setting: over large stretches of the text, Ezra and an angel/God are presented as speaking to each other, and to some extent arguing, about the justness of the fate in store for the sinners, and other topics for which Ezra seeks instruction.

5.1.2 The discursive or descriptive treatment of themes is presented as constituted by speeches uttered on separate but mutually emplotted occasions (one or more speakers): apart from their intimate narrative connection, the separate speeches merely juxtapose themes and propositions (see further 5.7, thematic aggregate).

5.1.2.1 The separate speeches in sequence constitute a juxtaposition of themes/propositions (see also 5.7): the text opens with reference to Ezra prophesying in the reign of Artaxerxes (1:3-4); he then seeks knowledge of his situation "in the 30th year after the city's ruin" (3:1),which is followed at once by an angelic revelation (4:1-5:14). Mention of the "second night" of this revelation (5:16) is succeeded by reference to a seven-day fast commanded by the angel (5:20-21), whereupon Ezra had a new revelation: this itself is followed by notice of another seven-day fast period (6:35), after which "on the eighth night" (6:36) Ezra addresses the Almighty. Another seven-day period is mentioned at 9:23 before which Ezra goes to a field of flowers; 9:27 seems to indicate that he waited there a further seven days before he again speaks to God. Here he receives a vision: the angel explains this, and orders him to remain where is he until "tomorrow" (10:59. The, "on the second night" (11:1), Ezra had his dream of the eagle; after this, he remains in the flower field for seven days (12:51). Following this stay, 13:1 has temporal notice "after seven days" and recounts a dream: this is explained, and Ezra stays in the field a further three days (13:58), and is summoned by a direct command "on the third day" (14:1).The reamining chapters can be read as following directly in the same time-scheme as the final summoning of Ezra by name in 14:1.

5.7 Adjacent text parts constituting themes are merely juxtaposed or weakly conjoined, while there is no indication of an overall objective relationship (so no 5.6, 5.2.1, 5.3.1, 5.4.1 or 5.5.1.1–3): see details under 5.1.2.1.

5.7.2 Some measure of objective interrelatedness of all/almost all themes in the text is capable of expression, but only through use of a summarizing term or phrase noticeably more general than the text’s own words when speaking about its themes.

5.9 The text’s governing voice projects the accuracy or validity of its statements as: the outcome of anxious investigation of God's dealings with Israel after instruction received from God Himself or one of his archangels.

5.9.1 being taken for granted or being self-evident: during Ezra's reception of prophetic messages in chapters 1-2; 15-16.

5.9.2 Admitting discussion or disagreement, or the need for argument and evidence in principle: Throughout chapters 3-14, Ezra discusses at length with the archangel and with God himself the reasons for God's punishment of Israel; the possibility that God's judgement may not be fair; and the criteria by which it is exercised. The dialogues in 3-14 put forward questions which are resolved in discussion, debate, or through interpretation of visions and dreams accorded to Ezra.

5.9.4 The following argument types occur:

5.9.4.2 Predominantly or exclusively conceptual arguments (e.g. inferences, analogies, or references to evidence): Occasionally there may be allusions to biblical words (e.g., 9:29-31//Exod. 19:9; Dt. 4:12) or to biblical visions (e.g., allusions to Dan. 7:7: at 12:11), but there are no quotations of other texts to sustain and support arguments.

5.10 The governing voice ascribes statements about the text’s thematic substance pervasively or prominently to speaker characters as utterances: The main characters involved are Ezra, the archangel Uriel, and God.

5.10.3 The governing voice quotes a character with a direct speech of such length that it constitutes a significant proportion of the text overall.

5.12 The text thematizes the meaning of historical or narrative events and summarizes, alludes to or refers to events as evidence, but does not create sustained emplotment (contrast 4.7): The historical event which is central to this text is the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587/586 BCE, the consequent Exile of the Jewish people, and their circumstances following that Exile.

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7.1 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between a non-biblical text and one or more biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive.

7.1.1 Characters correspond between the non-biblical narrative and the narrative of a biblical text or texts.

7.1.1.1 Some or all main characters of the text correspond to main characters in a biblical partner text.

7.1.1.1.1 A main character shared with a biblical partner text is also the first-person narrator of the text: The I-Narrator is identified as Ezra, who is also the governing voice of the text, and an important biblical figure, who is named often, e.g., 1:1-2; 2:10, 33, 42; 6:10; 7:2, 25; 8:2; 14:1, 38.

7.1.2 Chronology, physical setting or emplotment correspond between the non-biblical narrative and the narrative of a biblical text or texts:

7.1.2.3 The narrative is located at a particular point (“niche”) in a chronological-spatial framework also known from a biblical text, but there is no overlap in the narrative substance.

7.1.4 The text shares features of language with the Hebrew Bible, or exhibits tacit overlap with specific biblical wording, whether narrative or not: The period of Jewish history after the 587/586 destruction of Jerusalem and the consequent Exile forms the chronological niche into which the events and speeches recorded in the text are placed.

7.1.4.1 There are pervasive biblical linguistic features (vocabulary, morphology or syntax) or a pervasive use of unspecific biblical language, such as generic biblical phrases or single words: On the language, see above at 2.4.3. Allusions to biblical passages are common, but they are given in quite general terms; e.g., 1:15-23;3:4-19; 6:38-53; 15:8.

7.1.4.2 The text contains prominently, but not necessarily frequently, the wording of specific biblical passages such as whole sentences or unique biblical phrases, used in a tacit manner. See also 8.1.4.1: See 1:18//Numb. 14:3; 1:19//Ps. 78:24-25; 5:17//Dt. 8:1; 7:32//Dan. 12:2.

7.1.5 The projected persona of the governing voice of the text, whether a narrative or not, is also known from a biblical text, or the governing voice assumes an epistemic stance similar to that of a biblical text.

7.1.5.1 The projected first-person persona of the governing voice is also a character in a biblical text: The governing voice is Ezra, who is the main character in the biblical book bearing his name.

7.1.5.1.1 The persona appears to be linked to a character as it specifically appears in the biblical text, not merely as it might be known from diffuse cultural knowledge: although specific overlap between the biblical book of Ezra and 4Ezra is limited, one such point is that the biblical Ezra is the promulgator of the Torah (Ezra 7:11-20) and in 4Ezra becomes the mediator of all biblical books. ROBERT, ARE THERE ANY CLEAR CASES OF INFORMATION IN 4EZRA BEING SPECFIC ENOUGH TO SAY THAT THE BOOK OF EZRA IS PRESUPPOSED OR ALLUDED TO? ALEX

7.1.5.3 The epistemic stance of the governing voice (narrative or not, first person or not) can be interpreted as falling into the same generic category as one of the following stances also adopted in biblical texts:

7.1.5.3.1 The conveyance of personally received verbal or visual revelation (prophecy model). ROBERT, IS THIS PARTICULARLY CLEAR, OR PERHAPS EXCLUSIVE TO, THE CHAPTERS 1-2 AND 15-16, which contains "prophecies" (extended speeches) of the biblical kind, rather than the toing and froing of dialogue? that would be an interesting structural support of the difference of these chapters compared to the rest.

7.1.8 The non-narrative text pervasively or prominently presupposes the narrative fabric of biblical events/reported speech, beyond the contents of any specific biblical wording it may quote.

7.1.8.1 [The text presupposing biblical narrative fabric has a thematic structure of discourse or description.]

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8.1 Standard forms or contents formulated in set phrases, set sentence formats, or clauses in a standard syntactic connection.

8.1.4.1 The expressive use of unmarked biblical wording whose function in the text’s discourse is enhanced or achieved by it being recognised as coming from a Scripture: (occasional).

8.1.16 Descriptive sentence of a static (ocular) structure or "scientific" descriptive sentence: occasional, as for the field of flowers (9:24) and the city seen in a vision (10:27).

8.1.21 Statement describing a reality (nature, creation, human nature) in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: see 6:38-54.

8.2 Non-narrative small literary forms that impose on their components a standard functional relationship to each other, while grammar and syntax may vary:

8.2.2 Self-contained question-answer unit in anonymous discourse: frequent.

8.2.5 The summary exposition, in a number of sentences, of theological ideas: rare. See 7:49-52.

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11.1 The non-narrative text projects its thematic concern as being mainly one or more of the following:

11.1.2 Moral values or value judgments, including practical instructions on proper behaviour or self-preservation: The text is principally concerned with problems relating to divine justice and human responsibility, with an eye to the final destiny of humanity.

11.1.6 Reports of the speech of named characters.

11.1.7 Future events or future reward and punishment.

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12.1 Sampling of genre labels applied to the text in secondary literature: Apocalypse. This seems to be almost universally accepted as the genre label for chapters 3-14, with chapters 1-2 and 15-16 labelled as additions of a "prophetic" kind.

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Bibliography:

Text: R. Gryson and others (eds.), "Liber Ezrae Quartus", in Biblia Sacra Vulgata, 4th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), pp. 1931-1974; R. J. Bidawid, "4 Esdras", in The Old Testament in Syriac according to the Peshitta Version (Leiden: Brill, 1973); M. E. Stone, The Armenian Version of IV Ezra (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1979) A. F. J. Klijn, Der lateinische Text  der Apokalypse des Esra, Texte und Untersuchungen 131 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1994). See also R. L. Bensly, The Fourth Book of Ezra,(with Introduction by M. R. James) Texts and Studies 3.2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1895).

Translations: English: G. H. Box, "4 Ezra", in R. H. Charles (ed.), Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), pp. 542-624; B. M. Metzger, "The Fourth Book of Ezra", in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2 (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1983), pp.517-559; J. M. Myers, I and II Esdras, Anchor Bible 42 (Garden City: Doubleday, 1974); K. Martin Hogan, "4 Ezra", in L. H. Feldman, J. L. Kugel and L. H. Schiffman (eds.), Outside the Bible. Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society/University of Nebraska Press, 2013), pp. 1607–1610 (translation from the New Revised Standard Version). German:  H. Gunkel, "Das vierte Buch Esra", in E. Kautzsch (ed.), Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des alten Testaments (Tuebingen: Mohr, 1900); B. Violet, Die Apokalypsen des Esra und des Baruch in deutscher Gestalt (Leipzig: Hinrichs Verlag, 1924)  J. Schreiner, Das 4. Buch Ezra, JSHRZ (Guetersloh: Mohn, 1981). French: L. Gry, Les Dites prophetiques d'Esdras (IV Esdras), 2 vols. (Paris: Geuthner, 1930).

Studies: W. O. E. Oesterley, 2 Esdras (The Ezra Apocalypse), Westminster Commentaries (London: Methuen, 1933) M. E. Stone, Fourth Ezra, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990); A. P. Hayman, "The Problem of Pseudonymity in the Ezra Apocalypse", JSJ 6 (1975), pp. 47-56.



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