Why is the Timing of Events in Ezra-Nehemiah So Confusing?

The combined records of Ezra and Nehemiah are fraught with incongruities relating to chronology and historical positioning, names, numbering, genealogies, and other historical data. If all scripture is divinely inspired, then all scripture, including Ezra-Nehemiah, is necessarily inerrant. How, then, do we account for the confusing ambiguities and apparent discrepancies? Reporting of events in Ezra-Nehemiah is intermittent, nonsequential, and disproportional, coinciding with the reigns of Persian kings, while dynastic and regnal names, patronymic family names, and culturally common names make specific identifications challenging, uncertain, or impossible. Ancient historians often arranged materials thematically rather than chronologically. A wealth of historical data is provided in scripture but not a complete, continuous record. Any chronological and historical allusions are merely secondary, supplementing and supporting the primary spiritual, instructional, and life-transforming message. The seemingly disjointed temporal components in Ezra-Nehemiah are better understood as intentional strategies in forming the main theological themes. All scripture is the result of God having chosen to communicate in real historical-sociocultural-literary environments that are fundamentally and unavoidably foreign to our own. Proposed chronologies of the distant past are almost always exercises in estimations, probabilities, and uncertainties. Near approximations ought to be sufficient as long as the integrity of the biblical record is not compromised and the greater spiritual truths are not overshadowed.

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