Esdras (ĕzˈdrəs) [key] [Gr. from Heb. Ezra], name of several books found in the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. The New Revised Standard Version (following the Authorized Version) maintains the titles Ezra and Nehemiah for the books to which the Vulgate gives the titles First and Second Esdras respectively. The Septuagint gives the title Second Esdras to a work in which both books are combined. In the Hebrew Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah are also a combined work. The New Revised Standard Version's and Septuagint's First Esdras compile the whole of Ezra, sections of Second Chronicles and Nehemiah, and a story about Darius the Persian's bodyguards. In the Vulgate this work is entitled Third Esdras. The work known as Second Esdras in the Apocrypha of the Authorized Version and New Revised Standard Version is given the title Fourth Esdras ( = Fourth Ezra) in the Vulgate. Part of this work is a Jewish apocalypse extant in Latin; other parts are Christian additions. Many consider it the most theologically perceptive of the Jewish apocalypses. The original language was probably Hebrew or Aramaic, from which a Greek translation was made; however, none of these versions exist. The work, which most critics date after A.D. 100, is a response to the destruction (A.D. 70) of Jerusalem. See Apocrypha; J. M. Myers, I and II Esdras (1974); J. H. Charlesworth, ed., Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Vol. I, 1983); M. Stone, Fourth Ezra (1990).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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