The Unity and Coherence of 4 Ezra: Crisis, Response, and Authorial Intention

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
Lydia Gore-Jones Macquarie University Australia

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Scholarly interpretations of 4 Ezra have very often endeavoured to resolve the issue of the apparent disunity and inconsistency in its form and content. The approaches used are largely divided between the psychological perspective on the one hand, which understands the work as describing Ezra’s religious transformation as a result of his dialogue with Uriel and his visions, and the theological approach on the other, which views it as an intra-Jewish debate, with Uriel and Ezra representing conflicting theological views. While the theological perspective often neglects the significance of the visions and the epilogue for the work as a whole, the psychological perspective often fails to give due consideration to authorial intention. This article argues that the author of 4 Ezra intends to propose a solution to the crisis created by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 ce and to give scriptural authority to his solution. The key to interpreting his purpose in writing lies in the choice of Ezra as his pseudonymous mouthpiece and in the epilogue. With this authorial intention in mind, the different parts of the book become a coherent whole.

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