Lester L. Grabbe, Ezra-Nehemiah (New York: Routledge, 1998).
Part of a holistic reading is not just to see how the text is structured and the parts fit the whole but also to recognize that sometimes a purely literary reading of the final form of the text does not do justice to what lies before us. A full analysis of the text may require one to ask how it came about—about its history, evolution, redaction, compilation. The emphasis in some of the literary approaches has been on how the work is structured and how the various elements within the narrative contribute to the message of the book; that is, they emphasize unity and integrity of the narrative. Such analyses have often been very helpful in appreciating the literature, have brought previously unrecognized meanings to the surface, and have corrected an earlier over-emphasis on tradition-historical criticism. However, a close reading does not always show literary skill; on the contrary, it may well disclose textual disharmony, bad writing, and clumsy editing. It may raise questions about the use of earlier traditions (which is, of course, a form of intertextuality), and it may well call into question the matter of authorial competence. (2)