in Old Testament Library

by Jon Douglas Levenson

4.66 Rank Score: 5.58 from 7 reviews, 2 featured collections, and 5 user libraries
Pages 142
Publisher Westminster John Knox
Published 1997
ISBN-13 9780664220938


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After a succinct introduction addressing key aspects of the book of Esther, the commentary section includes the Septuagint version of Esther. The literary structure of Esther (Figure 2, p. 8) has shaped later commentators’ interpretation of the book. I also like the theological insights of this commentary. [Full Review]
G Ware G Ware September 12, 2018
Outstanding critical scholarship, written by a Jewish scholar for a broader audience. Incorporates comments on LXX portions not in the MT, as well as attention paid to AT and proto-Esther, giving a more rounded view of the reception and redaction history and not just the final form of the MT. Engaging, astute, and keenly attentive to literary nuance and storytelling methods. Scholarly, but not inaccessible.
incorporates rabbinic material in addition to standard historical-critical words
A master of biblical theology from a Jewish perspective examines the book of Esther. [Full Review]
Jon Levenson’s new commentary on the book of Esther is an excellent addition to the Old Testament Library series. Highly erudite yet accessible, this commentary belongs on the shelves of students, clergy, and professional scholars as well as the serious layperson. Like other volumes in the series, Esther: A Commentary begins with an introduction that discusses the standard issues of biblical commentary: plot, structure and style, historicity and date of composition, and versions. Because Esther is a short story or novella, Levenson is particularly concerned with structure and style, discussing at length the structuring motif of banquets, the symmetry of the plot surrounding the pivotal scene of Mordecai’s rise and Haman’s fall in chapter 6, the literary style of the author, and the comic elements present in the book. When Levenson notices the humorous moments in Esther, his own dry sense of humor peeps through; for example, in the midst of an explanation of Ahasuerus’s decree that all the virgins in the empire be gathered into his harem, Levenson notes “celibacy not being Ahasuerus’ forte . . .” (p. 2). Levenson’s own clarity of style and gentle wit makes the book a pleasure to read from beginning to end. Since the versions of the book of Esther pose particular problems of interpretation, Levenson also spends considerable time exploring the differences between the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, and the Greek Alpha Text. He reaches the conclusion that MT Esther and AT Esther both descend from a hypothetical Hebrew proto-Esther, while the Septuagint is an expanded and reshaped translation of the MT. In this he finds himself in agreement with the majority of Esther scholars today. [Full Review]