Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Exegetical Theology

First Advisor

Andrew Bartelt

Scripture References in this Resource

Nehemiah 13:22b; Nehemiah 1:4; Nehemiah 1:5–11a; Nehemiah 2:4; Nehemiah 3:36–37; Nehemiah 4:3; Nehemiah 5:19; Nehemiah 6:9; Nehemiah 6:14; Nehemiah 9:5b–37; Nehemiah 13:14; Nehemiah 13:22; Nehemiah 13:29; Nehemiah 13:31; Nehemiah 3:36-37; Nehemiah 1:1; Nehemiah 3:32; Ezra 6:14; Nehemiah 12:27–43; Nehemiah 13:4–31


Penhallegon, Philip W. “Presenting Himself as an Approved Worker: The Narratological Function of the Prayers in the Book of Nehemiah.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2012. 240 pp.

Prayer can serve as a key feature with important functions in a narrative text. The abundant prayers in Nehemiah and the lack of scholarly attention to their function within the narrative suggest the need for fresh research into this question. This dissertation addresses the question, “Given the prominence of prayers in the book of Nehemiah, how do the various prayers function in the narrative?”

The exploration of that question has resulted in the following thesis: Attention to the narratological function of the prayers in the book of Nehemiah reveals that the book is Nehemiah’s apologia—his appeal to God in which he argues that he should be remembered as a faithful servant. This attention to the prayers improves upon former narrative readings of Nehemiah by recognizing the apologetic nature of the book and demonstrating a greater coherence than has been recognized formerly. It also helps distinguish the book from Ezra with which it is often combined.

Chapter 1 demonstrates the need for this study and sets it into its scholarly context. Chapter 2 gives a brief overview of narrative analysis as well as preliminary application to the book of Nehemiah. Chapter 3 provides a detailed exegetical treatment of each prayer in the book of Nehemiah in narrative order and then classifies the prayers as recorded, reported, and interjected. Chapter 4 gives a narrative reading of Nehemiah, giving special attention to the function of the prayers and their effect upon the narrative whole. The prayers are found to be an integral part of the compositional and narrative strategy. Some of the prayers are important to the story being told while a distinctive subset, the remember prayers, provide the interpretive key to the entire narrative. This reading demonstrates that the book of Nehemiah can be read and understood as Nehemiah’s apologia to God to be remembered as a faithful servant. In so doing it shows that Nehemiah has coherence of its own, apart from Ezra and Chronicles. Finally, chapter 5 summarizes the outcomes of this study and expounds on some of the scholarly implications resulting from this dissertation’s work.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.