Receiving Esther: Novels and the Explicit Religious Nature of Esther Open Access

Spinnato, Kelsey Nicole

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/9880vr22k?locale=en
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Abstract

The biblical book of Esther, that received in the Masoretic Text, is often considered a secular text. God is never mentioned, and only vague references to such religious practices as fasting are mentioned. However, in Esther Rabbah I's reception of Esther, the authors or compilers of the text used seven hermeneutical tools to draw out Esther's implicit religious nature. These tools are transformed and similar methods used in the reception of Esther in contemporary novels, namely Hadassah: One Night with the King and The Gilded Chamber. This thesis explores these two texts, using Esther Rabbah I as a case study, to show how although the biblical book of Esther is only implicitly religious, authors across time have sought to highlight that religious character and make it explicit. The contemporary novels do this in four ways: employing intersecting verses, creating dialogue, creating circumstances and events, and inserting explicit language and terminology.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION ...............................................................................................................1
Why the Reception of Esther? 1
Reception History: A Definition in Context 2
Receiving Esther 4
WHERE IS GOD IN ESTHER? ..........................................................................................7
MIDRASH ...........................................................................................................................9
Definitions 9
Why Was Midrash Developed? 10
Midrashim on Esther 11
ESTHER RABBAH I: A CASE STUDY ..........................................................................12
Dating and Authorship 12
Themes and Goals 14
Making the Religious Nature of Esther 2 Explicit in Esther Rabbah I 15
Employing Intersecting Verses 16
Creating Dialogue or Events 17
Exegeting Clause by Clause 18
Comparing Structures 19
Reporting Dialogues between Sages 20
Quoting a Sage 21
Providing Basic Commentary 23
The Message of Esther Rabbah I 23
HADASSAH: ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING ..................................................................25
Introduction: Context and Plot 25
Making Explicit the Religious Nature of Esther 26
Employing Intersecting Verses 26
Creating Dialogue 34
Creating Circumstances and Events 38
Inserting Explicit Language and Terminology 42
Conclusion: The Message of Hadassah 50
THE GILDED CHAMBER .................................................................................................51
Introduction: Context and Plot 51
Making Explicit MT Esther's Religious Nature 53
Employing Intersecting Verses 54
Creating Dialogue 59
Creating Circumstances and Events 64
Inserting Explicit Language and Terminology 74
Conclusion: The Message of The Gilded Chamber 80
MORDECAI'S REFUSAL TO BOW: A COMPARISON ...............................................80
CONCLUSION ..................................................................................................................84
BIBLIOGRAPHY ..............................................................................................................85

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