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The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (New international commentary on the Old Testament)

The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (New international commentary on the Old Testament) [Kindle Edition]

Charles Fensham
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Fensham's study on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah is a contribution to The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Like its companion series on the New Testament, this commentary devotes considerable care to achieving a balance between technical information and homiletic-devotional interpretation.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5014 KB
  • Print Length: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (28 Feb 1983)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001Q3L6VW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #589,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superficial and technical 16 Jan 2012
By niobius
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have only read the introduction and the commentary on the first two chapters of Ezra, but I don't plan on reading much more.

The introduction includes an interesting overview of the historical events which lead up to the return from exile, though a diagrams and tables might be even more helpful. Fensham also briefly notes different theories on when Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel returned to Jerusalem. But though the introduction is decent, the commentary is not:

1) Several important connections to other Bible passages are overlooked:
Commenting on Ez 1:1, Fensham fails to make the connection with Jer 25:12-13, though he does comment briefly on Jer 29:10. Similarly he ignores the important connection between Ez 2:59f and 1 Chr 9:1 + Deut 23:3-8. He may have chosen to ignore the connections because of space issues, but in doing so he presents an incomplete analysis of the verses.

2) At least three times in the commentary on the first two chapters he uses "textual corruption" an excuse not to address "insurmountable problems" in the book of Ezra:
First, in 1:9, the total number of vessels is different from sum of the vessels from the previous verses
Second, in the genealogies of ch2, which seem at some points to contradict the parallel genealogies in Nehemiah
Third, in 2:64-67, the total number of people is different from the number of people listed in genealogies

3) At least once he has without any discussion dismissed an interesting and not implausible theory, namely that Zerubbabel and Sheshbazzar were the same person.

I have no doubts that one more familiar with the Bible than I would have no problems pointing out several other similar problems with the commentary.
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Our church recently spent a term working through the book of Nehemiah in Sunday sermons and in mid-week home groups. As one of the home group leaders, I wanted a fairly detailed and balanced exegetical commentary on Nehemiah for the Kindle to help me in preparing our home group studies each week.

I downloaded and read six samples, and whittled these down to a shortlist of three which I felt would be suitable. In the end I opted to purchase this one, since it came in the middle of the three both in terms of price and in terms of its level of technical detail.

The commentary has been well formatted for Kindle, with nice use of fonts, and with all the hyperlinks working correctly (important, since the commentary is a hefty 300+ pages in hardback). It's scholarly - Fensham clearly has a thorough knowledge of the literature on these books - with some handy maps and a useful, well-written introduction covering the historical background and the range of modern scholarly opinion on the authorship of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Some exegetical commentaries can be rather myopic - "this verse means this, the next verse means this..." - but that's not the case here. Fensham divides the text into appropriate major sections, and then farther subdivides into smaller sections of a few verses at a time. There is quite a lot of discussion of the meaning of Hebrew words - I remember phrases like "the waw conjunction" coming up frequently - but the Hebrew is transliterated and the commentary does not expect the reader to be a Hebrew scholar (I'm not).

Most importantly, I found that this commentary answered all the questions I had about the text. At no point did I find myself thinking, "But you haven't told me why it says....!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong in historical aspect 20 July 2006
By Ongkowidjojo - Published on
This book probably not as strong as H.G.M. Williamson (WBC 16) in theological aspect of Ezra and Nehemiah, one can compare how they handle the difficult issue of mixed-marriage to see how Williamson surpass Fensham, but this commentary is very good in giving historical perspective and in showing flow of the books. This is a major value because different with other books in the Bible, knowing historical background is exteremely important for us to understand the book of Ezra and Nehemiah. Compared this commentary with Williamson's and you will get a very good perspective about Ezra and Nehemiah.

NB: Because Fensham gave no historical-chronological chart, You will get much help if you can find such a chart in study bibles or old testament introductions/surveys.

Fensham has met our Lord personally in 1989 and I believe he would be rejoiced to know his work still a blessing for me in 2006.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the top Commentaries on Ezra/Nehemiah 28 Aug 2010
By BCRAW - Published on
We just started an expository preaching series at our church so I picked this commentary up to delve deeper as I follow along with the series. This commentary along with the Word Biblical Commentary one as well as Derek Kidner's (Tyndale Old Testament) according to various sources seem to make up the top three commentaries on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

This is a great commentary. The NICOT series has a great look and easily accessible layout. The author provides plenty of historical context while at the same time seeking to provide helpful and faithful exegesis. This commentary is more lengthy and technical than Kidner's but less technical and more easily accessed than the WBC commentary. I would recommend this as a very helpful commentary as one seeks to study and meditate further on the book of Nehemiah.

Remember that the more commentaries and opinions you can read (from perspectives that are trying to be biblically faithful) the better. The point is not to believe everything exactly as the commentator says, but to use his expertise and research to ask better and deeper questions of the text of the Bible. Commentaries are helpful but only when they are in submission to the Bible as fallible, yet helpful resources.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Troubles of Going Home Again 25 Feb 2013
By Thomas J. Burns - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The twin Hebrew canonical works of Ezra and Nehemiah [at various times considered as one work] are critical as both historical sources and insight into Jewish thought and practice in the several centuries after return from the Babylonian Captivity, initiated by the sympathetic King Cyrus in 538 B.C.E. Together Ezra and Nehemiah describe the complexity of the homecoming and the struggle to reestablish cultic and political identity. Theologically these books give a vivid insight into the determination and the anguish of the Jews to reestablish Temple worship pleasing to God and faithful to the Law. This effort came at great cost, to the point of dissolving longstanding marriages with foreign-born and pagan women. These works stand at the cusp of the Hellenistic Era, which would eventually create insurmountable chasms in Jewish thought and identity.

Several reviewers have suggested of my Scriptural commentary reviews that I address too much of the sacred text and not enough of the commentator's effort. I will concede that to a point, but I assume that potential readers may not have comprehensive exposure to every book of the Bible and will wish to know if it is worth their while to study a Biblical text exhaustively, in terms of general understanding and spiritual growth.

F. Charles Fensham's commentary is an adequate introduction for a motivated beginner. His twenty-four page introduction orients the reader to time and place, and sketches the major themes and questions about these works. Foremost among them is authorship; Fensham supports the position that the ubiquitous Chronicler--possibly the most prolific Biblical author unknown by the vast majority of those in the pew--is the source/author. Fensham is quick to point out, though, that certainty of dating and authorship is a rare commodity in the study of ancient documents. Another mystery is the relationship of the two men Ezra and Nehemiah. It is quite possible that neither was even born when Cyrus formally released Israelites to return to Israel.

That both of these Jewish reformers came to Jerusalem some years later raised questions with me that I rather wish the author had addressed. Both Ezra and Nehemiah were residents of Babylon long after Cyrus' day. Nehemiah in fact was close to the throne. While the sacred texts themselves explain the problems that demanded the presence of such distinguished prophetic characters [military vulnerability, internal strife, neglected Law and worship], the author does not critically unravel the mysteries of their respective calls. Nehemiah in particular seems to be dispatched by King Artaxerxes to bring order and spiritual tranquility to Babylon's new satellite. One wonders: if Persian Jews are the face of post-exilic reform in Israel, was there indeed a strong Jewish observance in Persia itself? Had the Diaspora already begun with a vengeance?

Ezra is dispatched by Artaxerxes first, to assess the situation of Israel "in accordance with the Law of your God..." {Ezra 7:14ff] The unusual concern for the state of Israelite religious life by Cyrus and Artaxerxes, among other monarchs, is intriguing. Ezra himself does not appear on the scene until chapter 7 of the work that bears his name. The initial returning refugees spent minimally a half century reestablishing family lines [in a seemingly endless series of genealogies and offices] and modestly, as well as coping uneasily with those who had stayed behind.

Ezra, with the weight of Artaxerxes behind him, comes to Israel at the head of another influx of Jews, probably from colonies throughout the Persian Empire, as well as plunder gathered from Israel at the end of the sixth century. Theologically, the detail of the Chronicler with his considerable list of returning personages is an attempt to maintain the promise of Davidic hope and redemption. Ezra's reforms include the restoration of the Levites to Temple duty and a prohibition of mixed marriages.

Nehemiah, by general account, comes after Ezra, though as Fensham observes, both men may have worked concurrently. Nehemiah, who held high office in the Persian court, came to Israel to secure the country, among other things. He oversees the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls and defenses, so aggressively that Israel's enemies complain to Artaxerxes. He undertakes major reforms of the economy--ending a divisive system of indenture, for example-reduces taxes and exerts pressure for a shift in population toward centralization closer to Jerusalem.

Both Ezra and Nehemiah are punctuated with a variety of literary forms: genealogies, prayer, prophetic speeches, and historical narrative. The reader who has laboriously traced the history of Israel to this point will be able to continue the narrative, both in terms of chronological narrative and theological thought. Fensham's commentary provides an English translation, broken into pericopes or logical textual segments, with general overview and verse by verse explication of each.

While the work is quite manageable, there are several issues of the Ezra-Nehemiah text that call for better clarification. One is simple demographics. It is hard to get a feel for just how many Israelites were deported to Babylon; how many were left behind; how many returned under Cyrus, and how many remained in Persia at the time both holy men took up their reform in Israel. But perhaps a more serious need is an effort to explain to a modern and generally tolerant contemporary reading public the radical reform demands of this Biblical age that led to such "harsh" demands as the breaking up of homes. If the reader is not adequately immersed in the religious culture of the time he or she may come away poorly disposed to Jewish devotion to the Law. This, of course, would complicate the sense of Judean-Christian unity of faith that should govern our contemporary thinking.

For advanced scholarly purposes, it should be noted that this work was published in 1982. The Jerome Biblical Commentary notes that since 1980 there has been considerable output by scholars of these works calling into question a number of presuppositions of earlier commentators, studies obviously not available to the author during his time of composition.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good accessible commentary 27 Dec 2013
By Doug Erlandson - Published on
The commentary on Ezra and Nehemiah by Chalres Fensham is a worthy addition to the NICOT commentary series. While there is serious scholarship in evidence in this work, Fensham explains matters in a way that is quite accessible to the layperson. In fact, this is one of the strong points of this commentary. While Fensham does tackle matters of interest to the scholar, his main purpose is always to make the text clear to the ordinary reader and to show its relevance. Fensham shows a detailed understanding of the history of the period covered by these two post-exilic books and brings this to bear in his comments on the text. We are also given a considerable amount of important cultural and geographical background material when it is relevant to the understanding of the text.

This commentary has a fairly brief but informative introduction, which discusses the matter of authorship as well as other issues such as the historical background, the theology, and the language of the text. Regarding the authorship, Fensham takes a position different from that of a number of recent scholars, in that he holds to the more traditional view that the Chronicler is also the author of Ezra and Nehemiah. His arguments for this position are presented clearly and forcefully.
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Grammatical-Historical Approach 27 Nov 2014
By M. Balthrop - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good, advanced beginner sort of commentary. The historical research is solid and helpful. It takes a decidely grammatical-historical approach. Readers hoping for a redemptive-historical bone will not be thrown one. I'd say that the best overall feature is the occassional breakdown of the structure of the text. These are almost worth the price of the book.
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