Books of Esdras

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Esdras is now transliterated as Ezra.

Ezra was prominent in the post-exilic period. His devotion to the law made him a "second Moses."[1]

The two books, Ezra and Nehemiah, were originally treated as one book in the Jewish canon.

"While serving as cupbearer to the king at the Persian court in Susa, Nehemiah received permission from Artaxerxes I to fortify Jerusalem, and served as governor of Judah for two terms, the first lasting twelve years (445-432 B.C.), the second of unknown length (Neh 5:14; 13:6). Despite temperamental shortcomings, Nehemiah was a man of good practical sense combined with deep faith in God. He used his influence as governor of Judah to serve God and the fledgling Jewish community in Jerusalem."[2]

Vulgate Now known as Status
1 Esdras Ezra canonical
2 Esdras Nehemiah canonical
3 Esdras 1 Esdras

but in appendix to Vulgate

4 Esdras 2 Esdras

but in appendix to Vulgate

Fourth Book of Esdras (2 Esdras)

Catholic Encyclopedia, "Esdras/Ezra."
The Fourth Book of Esdras is reckoned among the most beautiful productions of Jewish literature. Widely known in the early Christian ages and frequently quoted by the Fathers (especially St. Ambrose), it may be said to have framed the popular belief of the Middle Ages concerning the last things. The liturgical use shows its popularity. The second chapter has furnished the verse Requiem æternam to the Office of the Dead (24-25), the response Lux perpetua lucebit sanctis tuis of the Office of the Martyrs during Easter time (35), the introit Accipite jucunditatem for Whit-Tuesday (36-37), the words Modo coronantur of the Office of the Apostles (45); in like manner the verse Crastine die for Christmas eve, is borrowed from xvi, 53.
However beautiful and popular the book, its origin is shrouded in mystery. The introductory and concluding chapters, containing evident traces of Christianity, are assigned to the third century (about A.D. 201-268). The main portion (iii-xiv) is undoubtedly the work of a Jew — whether Roman, or Alexandrian, or Palestinian, no one can tell; as to its date, authors are mostly widely at variance, and all dates have been suggested, from 30 B.C. to A.D. 218; scholars, however, seem to rally more and more around the year A.D. 97.


  1. "The Talmud regards him as a second Moses, claiming that the Torah would have been given to Israel through Ezra had not Moses preceded him" (New American Bible, Introduction to Ezra-Nehemiah).
  2. Catholic Enclyclopedia, Introduction to Nehemiah.