Who was the author? Most scholars are said to think that the Divinely-inspired author of Ezra and Nehemiah was the same person as the author of Chronicles, who tradition says was Ezra. Nehemiah may have finished what Ezra started, and yet another later editor might have put finishing touches on the work of both. The book of Ezra and Nehemiah may have been written separately, but they were already merged in early Hebrew manuscripts and remained merged in Greek translations, apparently being separated possibly as soon as the late second or early third century.
What is the book? The book continues (or, the books continue) the narrative of the people of Judah returning from exile, in this case primarily rebuilding and dedicating Jerusalem's wall. The book was (or, the books were) presumably written for the returned exiles but pretty much gives us all we know of the community of Judah at the time. The end of Nehemiah brings to a close the historical narrative of the Old Testament.
Where was it written? If Ezra was the author, the book, like Chronicles, was most likely written back in Jerusalem or Judah.
When was it written? The writing of Nehemiah may be dated to 430 B.C., but a definitive date is probably impossible to fix.
Why? Apparently much like Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah were written to show the post-exile community that God was still with the community and would fulfill His promises of the Messiah through them and how they were to live faithful to Him.
How? God's work through Ezra and Nehemiah together is said to have been vital to Judaism's surviving the influence of the Persians, Greeks, and Maccabees. Nehemiah is said to be one of the great "laymen" of the Bible whose faith served as a great example of faith in the face of great adversity. Notable also are how closely together the figures of Ezra and Nehemiah worked, and to the extent God gave success to their efforts each was in part dependent on the other.
For further reading on the book of Nehemiah:
- Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume III: I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, translated by Sophia Taylor and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 160 pages specifically on Nehemiah.)
- Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 23 pages on Nehemiah.)