Modern consensus is that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah actually comprise a single work which was subsequently divided into two. How is it that scholars realized this was the same book (Does it have anything to do with 1 Esdras?) and why is it that the book was split in half in the first place?

The Anchor Yale Commentary, for example, is simply called "Ezra-Nehemiah" and the preface begins:

The period and literary deposit of Ezra-Nehemiah pose for the student of the Old Testament some of the most difficult and tantalizing problems connected with biblical history and literature

This is also true of Hermenia, and many other commentaries I hold. I also remember studying these books as a single work in seminary, but I forget the what led everybody to the conclusion it was one book.

The Ayc in commenting says:

The confusion of the materials in these books is abundantly clear to any observant reader in our present arrangement. Earlier students of the Bible recognized it: they tried to rearrange the various episodes into what appeared to them to be the proper order. Probably the first serious attempt to do so was made by the compiler of I Esdras, whose main interest seems to have been in the law—for he begins his work with the Josian reformation and concludes with Ezra’s reading of the law.

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    Interesting. Would you mind citing a few examples of this consensus. I don't doubt you, but just unfamiliar with this proposition.
    – swasheck
    Feb 24, 2012 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


According to Dr. Constantinou many of the books were separated when they were translated into Greek because the addition of vowels made individual scrolls too ponderous. Since Bibles in English tend to follow the Septuagint order even though they follow the Masoretic texts, they remain split.

I went back and found the place where she discusses this: here. She discusses this from about minute 23:40-26:00. Please note that she does not specifically mention Ezra/Nehemiah.

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics--StackExchange! The "new user" restrictions should be removed by now. If you could narrow down where the information can be found it would really help. (It's a bit much to ask someone to listen to a lecture series for a little tidbit of information like this. ;-) Feb 28, 2012 at 17:18
  • I figured as much. I'll see if I can make time to listen to them today. The problem is that, as much as I love it, Dr. Constantinou's show is a bit disorganized. Feb 28, 2012 at 17:26
  • Good work! I listened to that bit and I subscribed to the podcast. (Whether or not I will listen to it is a different question. ;-) I'd have to say your handle is not accurate since you've gotten off to a good start so far. Feb 28, 2012 at 22:40
  • Thanks. :) I can't recommend that podcast enough. It is Orthodox in perspective but she speaks broadly enough so that anyone can appreciate it. Feb 29, 2012 at 2:21

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