Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

series: Understanding the Bible Commentary Series

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Each volume in the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series breaks down the barriers between the ancient and modern worlds so that the power and meaning of the biblical texts become transparent to contemporary readers. They present a careful section-by-section exposition of the biblical books with key terms and phrases highlighted and all Hebrew transliterated. Notes at the close of each chapter provide additional textual and technical comments for those who want to dig deeper. A bibliography as well as Scripture and subject indexes are also included. Pastors, students, and Bible teachers will find in this series a commitment to accessibility without sacrificing serious scholarship.

Allen and Laniak direct the reader's attention to the literary elements of these three postexilic books while examining the historical setting and details, which in turn point to the valuable lessons to be learned. Though the focus is on human activity, the hand of God in restoration and deliverance is clearly seen. This helpful commentary sheds light on these sometimes misunderstood books.


"Three books, two commentators, but one approach, and the right one at that. Although both Allen and Laniak give attention to the historical setting of these post-exilic books, they rightly concentrate their effort on unfolding the intricacies of the literary narrative, since it is here that authority for belief and practice as well as material for preaching lies. With the right balance between overall thematic exposition and detailed notes, their commentary should serve both pastors and students well in opening up these neglected and frequently misunderstood books."--H. G. M. Williamson, Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Oxford

The Authors

  1. Leslie C. Allen

    Leslie C. Allen

    Leslie C. Allen is senior professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has written many books, including commentaries on Ezekiel, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Psalms, and Jeremiah.

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  2. Timothy S. Laniak

    Timothy S. Laniak

    Timothy S. Laniak is professor of Old Testament at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary- Charlotte. He is the author of Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible.

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"This is a fine textbook for study of three frequently overlooked biblical books."--The Bible Today

"Based on the NIV, though with occasional notes on the Hebrew, this commentary treats the three books of its title as literature, while also addressing issues of theology and history. The series promotes what it terms "believing criticism, " i.e. putting critical methods to use for the believing community." --Old Testament Abstracts

"The combination of commentaries on these two books within one volume can be justified beyond considerations of expense. Although A. suggests that they make "strange bedfellows" (Ezra-Nehemiah 'appeals for a strict religious stand' while Esther 'borders on an assimilationist attitude toward pagan society,' p. 10), they have a common concern with the Persian period. Read together canonically, they form a contrasting diptych on a period when the issues of the people's identity, continuity, and even survival were most sharply focused, whether in the land or in the Diaspora. These remain urgent concerns for church and synagogue alike. As a reliable and informative guide to these books, this commentary is warmly welcomed."--The Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"Both Allen and Laniak have provided useful commentaries that will render service to the public intended by this series--general readers and students." --Theoforum

"Allen's comments are both lucid and learned. His approach is literary, historical, philological, text-critical and theological. . . . Throughout the commentary, Laniak's remarks are fresh and well-crafted. Both of the authors in this volume have offered students of the Bible a rich and readable reference for understanding Ezra-Nehemiah and Esther."--Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"This series exemplifies the challenge of biblical scholarship for contemporary evangelicalism. It is committed to employing the full range of critical methodologies and practices, by scholars who hold the text in the highest regard so that modern readers may be illumined as their faith is deepened. This demanding task is engagingly carried out by Leslie Allen for Ezra-Nehemiah and Timothy Laniak for Esther. . . .While not for the specialist, all others will be enriched and enlightened by these engaging treatments of these frequently overlooked corners of the biblical record."--Interpretation

"Both authors do an outstanding job of utilizing early Jewish writings, including the Apocrypha, and other ancient writings, notably those of Herodotus and Xenophon."--Bibliotheca Sacra

"Consistent with the mandate that the editors of the NIBC give to the commentators, both Allen and Laniak prove themselves to be 'believing critics.' Each writes with a Christian audience and church concerns in mind. Allen repeatedly speaks of 'spiritual' applications of passages, while Laniak is less explicit but equally concerned to provide insights about the text's lessons for contemporary believers. . . . Each work, in its own way, describes the foundations for a life of fidelity to the traditions of the covenant. Allen and Laniak have written sound commentaries, whose goal is to hand on this message of fidelity to the present generation of Christians." --Toronto Journal of Theology