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The narratorial voice of the scribes of samaria: Ezra iv 8-vi 18 reconsidered

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The presence of a large block of Aramaic narrative in Ezra iv-vi has long posed a conundrum for scholars of Ezra-Nehemiah. Bill Arnold has explained the presence of Aramaic as a shift in perspective to "an external point of view." This study expands upon Arnold's thesis on two fronts. First, the evidence suggesting a perspective of narration that is external to the camp of the returned Judeans is far stronger than Arnold indicated. Second, a concrete identity for this external voice of Aramaic narration is proposed. The argument begins by identifying the constructed perspective and position of the speaker "we" in v 4, concluding—counter to the consensus within scholarship—that it is a gentile speaking. This conclusion is then supported by attending to the vocabulary and discourse utilized throughout this Aramaic pericope. In the final stage the precise gentile identity of the narratorial voice of this Aramaic pericope is identified.

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