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Faithfulness and Restoration: Towards Reading Ezra–Nehemiah as Christian Scripture

ESCOTT, TIMOTHY,ROBERT (2019) Faithfulness and Restoration: Towards Reading Ezra–Nehemiah as Christian Scripture. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 31 October 2022.

Abstract

This thesis seeks to establish parameters for reading Ezra–Nehemiah as Christian Scripture. It argues that Ezra–Nehemiah is best read theologically when it is approached with a variety of theological reading strategies, and that Ezra–Nehemiah is best understood theologically as a portrayal and model of faithfulness to God in the context of partial fulfilment of his restorative purposes.

Reading Ezra–Nehemiah with a ‘story’ reading strategy interprets it in line with other narrative material in the Bible. It draws attention to Ezra–Nehemiah’s ambivalent portrayal of the restoration from exile, it allows readers to identify with the community’s difficulty, sin, and distress, and it functions as a motivation for faithfulness to God. Reading Ezra–Nehemiah eschatologically seeks to understand Ezra–Nehemiah in dialogue with biblical prophetic texts, with attention to promise and fulfilment. It accents Ezra–Nehemiah’s portrayal of the restoration as a partial fulfilment of prophecy and suggests that future fulfilment is dependent on Israel maintaining her faithfulness.

Figural reading interprets Ezra–Nehemiah by discerning analogies with other parts of Israel’s story. Doing so portrays the restoration as a limited figural fulfilment of Israel’s story from the exodus to Solomon’s kingdom. The figures of participation with God, failure, and repentance urge readers to continue in faithfulness and continue to experience ongoing restoration. Reading Ezra–Nehemiah ethically asks how it can be understood as a model for faithful Christian living. The expressions of faithfulness in the books are summarised in Nehemiah 10, in which the community commits itself to torah obedience. Separation is a particularly controversial issue, but can be seen to have enduring significance in a Christian context.

Finally, Ezra–Nehemiah can be extended into a christological context in two main ways: the need for restoration can be seen to anticipate Christ’s restorative work; and the portrayal of faithfulness can be understood as an anticipation of the faithful life of Jesus Christ, which serves as a model for the Christian life.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Ezra–Nehemiah, Theological Interpretation, Biblical Theology
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Nov 2019 12:12

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