in JPS Bible Commentary

by Adele Berlin

4.96 Rank Score: 6.24 from 5 reviews, 6 featured collections, and 9 user libraries
Pages 110
Publisher Jewish Publication Society of America
Published 2001
ISBN-13 9780827606999


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This commentary juxtaposes the Hebrew text along with its English translation and then provides exegetical insights. The discussion of the genre of the book of Esther is helpful, especially in light of the author’s sensitivity to literary artistry of the text. [Full Review]
Good exposition of text written by a scholar skilled in literary approaches. [Full Review]
Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2001. Pp. lix + 110, Cloth, $34.95, ISBN 0827606990. Volkmar Premstaller Zams-Landeck, A-6511 Adele Berlin’s commentary on the book of Esther is a successful second volume of the JPS Bible Commentary series on the Five Megilloth and Jonah. It starts with an extensive introduction into Esther (xv–lix), which is itself worth reading. Berlin opens with the question of why the book of Esther was written and explains it as the authorizing document for Purim that tells the orgin of this first post-Torah festival. Thus Esther contains mere imaginative storytelling and is impossible as history. One also gets to know that this most secular of the biblical books might have had a number of different stages in its development (xv–xvi), although this point is not further explained. With the next paragraph, “Esther As Comedy,” Berlin turns to the main focus of her commentary. This Megillah is a comic story for a carnivalesque holiday (xvi) and as a comedy the most humorous book of the Bible (xvii) with a lot of comic aspects that form the essence of the book (xviii). So it should be read as a farce vulgarizing the Persian emperor and court through its elements of satire, its exaggerations, its sence of excess, and its incidents. The book of Esther is designed to provoke laughter (xix). After a look at the book’s narrative artistry, Berlin deals with the Greek storytelling about Persia, laying the foundation of the numerous citations of authors such as Herodotus, Xenophon, Ctesias, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Plutarch, Quintus Curtius Rufus, and Diodorus Siculus. Next she gives a brief overview on the Persian period, thus illustrating the backgrounds of Xerxes’ time, where the story is set (xxxiii). In a paragraph on Esther as a story of the Diaspora, the book is seen in line with the book of Judith, the book of Tobit, and the figures of Joseph, Daniel, and Ahiqar. [Full Review]