Jon Levenson has written in the Old Testament Library (OTL) series one of the very best commentaries available from the critical camp on the exciting Book of Esther. As a conservative reviewer, any critical commentary on Esther grates on my nerves more than usual because of critical scholar’s disdain for Esther’s history, but if you are like me and want at least one of the better critical commentaries in your library on every book of the Bible, you should probably consider this one.
There’s no doubt that Mr. Levenson writes with skill. When he says in the first paragraph, “it is also a tale of the ascent of an orphan in exile to the rank of the most powerful woman – and perhaps even the most powerful person – in the Empire and, arguably, the world”, his writing prowess becomes clear.
He begins his discussion in the Introduction on the plot of the Book of Esther. I thought his comment that there’s more narration than quoted speech as compared to similar biblical stories as perceptive. He gives a great overview of the plot. Next, he tackles structure and style and after surveying various scholarly opinions, he gives an outstanding visual representation of his thought of the structure of the Book of Esther. I can’t follow him in all his thoughts about the messages of the book of Esther, but he does give much food for thought. I totally disagree with his discussion of historicity. He gives a fine summary of the textual history of the book of Esther, though he could be disagreed with at points.
Though it has some of the same critical conclusions as the Introduction, the commentary proper is illuminating and thought-provoking. Let’s just say that he provides what I’m looking for in this type of commentary. You might want to check it out.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.