This commentary in the Interpretation Bible Commentary series by Carol Bechtel is another option for those looking for a critical commentary on the Book of Esther. Strangely enough, it’s strongest competition is another book by the same publisher, WJK, in the OTL series by John Levenson. While not as astute or lengthy as the OTL volume, it does in some ways build upon it.
Bechtel begins her Introduction by examining what she calls the vital statistics of Esther. In that section, she discusses versions of Esther, date and historicity to which she is hostile, followed by discussion of form and structure. She summarizes well other scholar’s opinions and even shares Levenson’s fine chart on structure. She decides Esther is a work of historical fiction, and turns to theological themes without really developing her own exact structure. Her points on theological things are unique and interesting. She sees a discussion of “a healthy sense of proportion” as the main theological thrust of Esther. Next, she discusses the theological implications of the challenge of living a faithful life in an unfaithful culture, followed by one on the power of the written word. I found these insights to make a real contribution to our thinking about Esther. I didn’t, however, get as much out of her final section on reading, preaching, and teaching the book of Esther.
The commentary proper was well written. Though it didn’t have the theological punch of the Levenson volume, it would still serve as a fine backup volume to it if you are studying the point of view of the critical camp of scholarship.
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.