Comparing Two Ancient Versions of the Book of Esther
This activity is designed to introduce Septuagintal Esther. Your analysis should provide a point of comparison to interpret the book of Esther in the Protestant Bible (differences in the canons). The things that bothered the Septuagintal revisers (what they tried to fix) are the same kinds of issues that bother today’s scripture readers. I recommend completing this activity with the NRSV version of Aprocyrpha/Deuterocanonical Esther. If this is unavailable to you, however, click here for an introduction to Additions to Esther, overview of revisions, and the text.
(1) Compare and contrast the book of Esther in the Hebrew scriptures (the one in standard English Bibles) and the Septuagintal interpretation of it. How did the revisers responsible for the Septuagintal version of the book of Esther change the story itself? How is God portrayed differently in the Septuagintal narrative?
(2) Suggest reasons for the changes discussed in no. 1 above. Why were these changes made? What were the major theological problems or issues that the Septuagintal commentator(s) were trying to solve? Within what context, biblical or otherwise, did revisers responsible for the Septuagintal version of the book of Esther interpret the book of Esther in order to read it as they did? What did revisers responsible for the Septuagintal version of the book of Esther attempt to accomplish in the lives of readers, by rewriting the book of Esther in this way?
(3) What “problems” with the original book of Esther did the revisers responsible for the Septuagintal version attempt to solve? How did the problems get fixed? Why?
(4) The original book of Esther is not the way it is by accident. Why did the storymakers present the narrative as they did? What do you think was the intended function or purpose for this kind of narrative?
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