For various reasons, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah have suffered comparative neglect in Old Testament scholarship. However, as Dean Ulrich demonstrates, Ezra-Nehemiah as a literary unity is part of the Christian Bible that tells God’s grand story of saving activity. It focuses not so much on how to be an effective leader but on how to be a godly participant in God’s story. God may be concerned about human conduct, but the moral imperatives appear in the larger context of God’s acts and promises. However exemplary Ezra and Nehemiah the men may be, Ezra-Nehemiah has an interest in how God’s people contribute to building the new (and New) Jerusalem–God’s redeemed community that is bigger than any single person. Mission–that is, participation in God’s purpose for his world–factors into the message of these books. In this NSBT volume, Ulrich views Ezra-Nehemiah as the record of the beginning of a new work of God among his people after the exile. This new work, which led eventually to the first coming of Jesus, enables God’s people to be restored presently (‘now’) in their relationship with God. Such restoration involves a combination of hope in God’s promises (‘not yet’) and obedience to his instruction concerned with mission. Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.
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