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Esther Through the Centuries

ISBN: 978-1-4051-3213-8
320 pages
January 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Esther Through the Centuries (1405132132) cover image
This interdisciplinary commentary ranges from early midrashic interpretation to contemporary rewritings introducing interpretations of the only biblical book not to mention God.
  • Unearths a wealth of neglected rewritings inspired by the story’s relevance to themes of nationhood, rebellion, providence, revenge, female heroism, Jewish identity, exile, genocide and ‘multiculturalism’
  • Reveals the various struggles and strategies used by religious commentators to make sense of this only biblical book that does not mention God
  • Asks why Esther is underestimated by contemporary feminist scholars despite a long history of subversive rewritings
  • Compares the most influential Jewish and Christian interpretations and interpreters
  • Includes an introduction to the book’s myriad representations in literature, music, and art
  • Published in the reception-history series, Blackwell Bible Commentaries
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Series Editors' Preface.

Acknowledgements.

Introduction.

Why Reception?.

An Irredeemable Book?.

Jewish Tradition.

Christian Tradition.

Summary of Works.

Godless Scripture.

Allegory.

Providence, Chosenness, Nationhood.

Providence.

Exile and Diaspora.

Nationalism.

Patriotism.

Political Application.

Esther as Literature.

Esther 1:1-9.

1:1 The King and Empire.

1:3 The King's Feast.

1:4 Display of Wealth.

1:8 There was no compulsion to drink.

Women's Feast.

Vashti.

Esther 1:10-12.

1:12 Disobedience.

1:13-22 The Empire Strikes Back.

1:19 Vashti's Punishment.

1:22 The Decree.

Esther 2:1-7.

2:1 The King Remembers Vashti.

2:2-4 To The Harem.

2:5-6 Mordecai.

2:7 Hadassah-Esther.

Esther 2:8-23.

2:8-14 Esther in the Harem.

2:15 Esther's Beauty.

2:16-18 Esther Becomes Queen.

Esther 3.

3:1 Haman.

3:2 'But Mordecai did not bow down'.

3:7 Casting Lots.

3:8 (Mis) Representing Jews: A People Set Apart.

3:8 Evil Counsellors.

3:12-15 Genocidal Edicts.

3:15 'The King and Haman sat down to drink'.

Esther 4:1-14.

4:1-3 'Great mourning among the Jews'.

4:4-14 Esther and Mordecai Confer.

4:14 'From another quarter'.

Esther 4:15-17.

4:15 'Fast ye for me'.

4:16 'If I perish, I perish'.

Esther as Exemplar of Resolve.

4:17 Mordecai [...] did everything as Esther had ordered him.

Esther 5.

5:4-8 Esther's First Banquet.

5:9-14 Haman's Wrath.

Esther 6.

The King's Sleeplessness.

6:11 The Triumph of Mordecai.

Esther 7 and 8.

7:1-6 Esther's Second Banquet.

7:7-8 Haman's Fate.

8:1-6 'how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?'.

8:7-14 The Irreversible Decree.

8:15-17 'The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour'.

Esther 9 and 10.

9:2 Scenes of Slaughter.

9:7-10 Ten Sons of Haman.

9:26 Purim.

9:29 & 32 'Then Esther the Queen ... wrote with all authority'.

10 The Greatness of Mordecai.

Bibliography.

Esther Secondary Sources.

Other Secondary Sources.

Primary Sources.

1. Pre-1500.

2. 1500-1800.

3. Post-1800.

List of Illustrations.

Name Index.

Subject Index
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Jo Carruthers is RCUK Academic Fellow at the University of Bristol working across the disciplines of Religious and Literary Studies. She has published on Esther as well as the reception of the Bible in literary and nationalist contexts.
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  • Unearths a wealth of neglected rewritings inspired by the story’s relevance to themes of nationhood, rebellion, providence, revenge, female heroism, Jewish identity, exile, genocide and ‘multiculturalism’
  • Reveals the various struggles and strategies used by religious commentators to make sense of this only biblical book that does not mention God
  • Asks why Esther is underestimated by contemporary feminist scholars despite a long history of subversive rewritings
  • Compares the most influential Jewish and Christian interpretations and interpreters
  • Includes an introduction to the book’s myriad representations in literature, music, and art
  • Published in the reception-history series, Blackwell Bible Commentaries.
See More
"The author digs up literary echoes and poetic versions of the biblical book of Esther.... This important scholarly resource originated as a PhD thesis in the University of Manchester. It is to be hoped the PhD students can be interested in doing similar research, producing studies as valuable as the present one." (International Review of Biblical Studies, 2007-2008)

"This book can be highly recommended. It provides a fascinating glimpse of how the Bible has shaped … The ideals of society throughout history." (Expository Times, November 2008)

"Carruthers looks at the reception of the text in detail, but also has an introduction to different ways of viewing the biblical book." (Church Times, October 2008)

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