The Bible

The Subtle Hand of God and the Female Archetype in the Book of Esther

Introduction: The Multi-Faceted Appeal of the Book of Esther

The book of Esther is one of the greatest pieces of literature in the Hebrew Bible. Its narrative is intricate, inventive, and colored with complex characters. It is the basis for the celebration of Purim and is highly popular, well loved by the devout, the scholarly, and the literate alike. But Esther is also one of the most contested books in the Hebrew Bible because of the two norms from which it deviates: the absence of God as a defined, active presence and the portrayal of a clever, industrious woman as the savior of the Jewish people. The additions in the Septuagint, which rescind or lessen aspects of these deviations, reveal interesting aspects of the anxiety the Hebrew Esther created among some Jewish (and, later, some Christian) readers. Here, in this beautiful and unique book, we see the most clear representation of God as truly an unconscious presence-never mentioned, but always there, guiding the actions of individuals and the Jewish people as a whole. We are given a female heroine, one who is an archetype of her own as she bends and challenges the female characters who have come before her. But even more profound then the book itself, perhaps, is the...

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