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The Different Versions of Esther

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image of Biblical Interpretation

In this article I contrast my reading of Esther as presented in The Feminine Unconventional with that proposed by David J.A. Clines in his book, The Esther Scroll: The Story of the Story. I particularly criticize his judgment on the literary genre, composition, and value of the so-called "A-Text," a Greek version of the Esther story extant in four late manuscripts, in which Clines sees an original core of the genuine story he calls the pre-Masoretic tale. The constant implication in his book is that this pre-Masoretic version is far superior in artistry and philosophical content to the later reworkings of the tale as we find them in the MT and in the LXX with its extensive Additions. To retrieve the alleged pristine meaning of the tale, Clines is led to emend all elements of the story that do not fit the conventional pattern of "the success story of the wise courtier." My reading and assessment of the A-Text are vastly different from Clines's. I explain why and present several samples of my divergent understanding. The A-Text is a most interesting piece, but, I believe, Clines has missed the real generic nature of the document and, in consequence, has drawn from it far-reaching but wrong conclusions.

Affiliations: 1: Chicago Theological Seminary


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