For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.
Where Am I?
The book of Esther follows the story of another courageous woman of the OT, Judith, and precedes the first and second books of the Maccabees.
I’ve read the book of Esther, many, many times. I’ve also lost track of how many times I’ve seen the films. I’m a bit of a Bible nerd. I think I own at least two different versions and can recall at least three versions that I’ve seen in recent years. If you haven’t already and enjoy historical fiction, I strongly recommend Tommy Tenney’s Hadassah, and the film based off the book, One Night With the King.
What I didn’t know about the book of Esther, is that in the deuterocanonical books, there are selections that are included that were left out of my non-Catholic, Christian Bible. I’ll explain.
One of the signature elements of the book of Esther is the complete lack of any reference of God. As far as I know, it’s the only book of the Bible that never mentions God. Not once. It’s implied, rather than stated, that the dramatic deliverance of the Jews living in the Persian empire is due to intervention beyond that of mortal mankind.
Curiously, when you look at the Catholic Bible’s version of this same book, which includes the Greek additions (107 additional verses), God is reinserted back into the drama, through the prayers of Queen Esther and Mordecai. In my Bible version*, these additional verses are indicated by Chapters lettering A-F, which again, include the aforementioned prayers, and also the royal decrees sent out regarding the destruction of the Jewish people.
I guess one of my favorite bits that I discovered was Chapter D, the passage that describes Esther’s confrontation with King Xerses. This is one of the most dramatic moments in the story and in any film version you’re likely to see but left out of the Christian Bibles that I grew up with, the details seemed to be the figment of the imagination of the screenwriters. Not so in the Catholic version, which follows Queen Esther during the entire interaction.
Having the opportunity to read this in person enriched my understanding of the story of Esther, but it’s completely omitted from the Hebrew form in non-Catholic bibles, and it’s such a shame that this has been lost as it adds more color to the narrative. So if the story of Esther is one of your favorites, I’d strongly encourage you to consider giving the Greek version a try, if only to see the bits of the story that (while in the films) are left out of the print versions. Glad to see that Hollywood got something right this time.
Next time, on Journey Through The Word, I’ll be moving on to the Books of the Maccabees. It’s all warfare (oh joy). Looks like it’ll be one for the boys so check back in soon.
*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).