The facts, man, the facts
Update: I just realised, this is my 400th post for Chrisendom! 400 posts of solid scholarly brilliance and humility.
One reader asked for the references used by Pitre in support of his ‘return from Exile’ theory.
First he cites Josephus, Ant. 11.113 which, with a bit more context, runs as follows:
‘When Ezra had received this letter, he was very joyful, and began to worship God, and confessed that he had been the cause of the king's great favour to him, and that for the same reason he gave all the thanks to God. So he read the letter at Babylon to those Jews that were there; but he kept the letter itself, (132) and sent a copy of it to all those of his own nation that were in Media; and when these Jews had understood what piety the king had toward God, and what kindness he had for Ezra, they were all greatly pleased; nay, many of them took their effects with them, (133) and came to Babylon, as very desirous of going down to Jerusalem; but then the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country; therefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers’ (11:131-133, italics Josephus. Obviously.)He adds: ‘Unlike the Babylonian exiles, the ten tribes of the northern kingdom had never returned to the promised land. Because of this, many Jews at the time of Jesus were still waiting for their return’ (34).
He also rather illuminatingly notes Isa 11:10-16, Jer 23:5-8 and Ezek 37:15-28 in this context – OT texts which ‘envision the Return from Exile as a restoration of all twelve tribes’ (37).