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The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible A richly illustrated account of the story of the Bible written by leading scholars.

Esdras

2 Esdras is also, and less confusingly, known as 4 Ezra (its Vulgate designation), since the name 2 Esdras in the old Greek Bibles and in the Vulgate denotes the book of Nehemiah. Originally composed in either Hebrew or Aramaic by a Jew, it was translated into Greek, but neither the original nor the Greek has survived. Instead, it was translated, from the Greek, into a number of languages including Latin, from which it was taken into the Vulgate, as well as being translated further into other languages. But even the translations from Greek fall into two textual traditions: Latin and Syriac represent one and Ethiopic, Georgian, and Coptic another.

Titles given to Books Associated with Ezra (and Nehemiah) in Selected Versions

Document Old Testament book of Ezra Old Testament book of Nehemiah Paraphrase of 2 Chronicles chs. 35–6 , the whole book of Ezra; Nehemiah 7: 38–8: 12 ; Plus a tale about Darius' bodyguards A Latin Apocalypse
Septuagint 2 Esdras 1 Esdras
Latin Vulgate 1 Esdras 2 Esdras 3 Esdras 4 Esdras
Many later Latin manuscripts 1 Esdras 3 Esdras 2 Esdras = chs. 1–2 4 Esdras = chs. 3–14 5 Esdras = chs. 15–16
Great Bible (1539) Douai Bible (1609–1610) 1 Esdras 2 Esdras 3 Esdras 4 Esdras
Russian Bible, Moscow Patriarchate (1956) 1 Esdras Nehemiah 2 Esdras 3 Esdras
Geneva Bible (1560) Bishops' Bible (1568) King James Version (1611) Revised Standard Version (1957) The book of Ezra The book of Nehemiah 1 Esdras 2 Esdras

A further complication is that the original Jewish form of the book, dated to the end of the first century CE, consists only of chapters 3–14, since in its Greek form it was also expanded by one or more Christians adding an introduction (chs. 1–2) and an appendix (chs. 15 and 16). These extra sections have persisted into the Latin translation, though they were recognized as additions, and in some manuscripts named separately as 2 and 5 Esdras respectively, while some scholars refer to them as 5 Ezra and 6 Ezra!

The most recent phase in the book's history is the discovery in 1874 of a Latin text of the book containing an additional passage of 70 verses between 7: 35 and 7: 36 , omitted from the King James version. This passage, present in many of the ancient translations and even in eighteenth-century English and American Bibles, was included in the Revised Version and all subsequent English Bibles; its verses are numbered 7: 36–105 . Since this passage denies the value of prayers for the dead, it may have been deliberately removed from early Latin manuscripts.

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