Talk:Book of Esther

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Scroll of Esther[edit]

Would it not be more accurate to call this page the Scroll of Esther as the translation of Megilah would imply? Idtboy 18:03, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Uhm no - it's a book in the Bible. What are you implying? Ckruschke (talk) 19:50, 28 December 2011 (UTC)Ckruschke

Correction[edit]

There is no such thing as a "Hebrew Bible" The Jewish canon of works consists of the "Chumash" (5 Books of Moses), Nevi'im (Prophets), and "Ketuvim" (writings". The 3 are given an acronym "Tanach" (where ch is a soft guttural sound). It is Jewish, not Hebrew. The writings include Maccabees, and Esther, the latter is kept in a "Megillah" scroll. So I am correcting that paragraph. While we are on the subject, there is no such thing as the "Old testament" That is a derogatory, supersessionist term used by Christians to infer that their "New Testament" replaces (supersedes) the Tanach, because it is claimed that the new religion replaces the old. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Historygypsy (talkcontribs) 03:05, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

- The books of Moses are called the Torah of course, hence the T in TaNaCh, which is the Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim together. These same books are also called the Hebrew Bible, mostly in a scholarly context. The term Old Testament is of course a Christian term. The 'Old Testament' in Christianity does not replace the Tanach, but is said to be its fulfillment/completion.
- The books of Maccabees are not in any Jewish canon.
- Note that Wikipedia relies on reliable published sources. If reliable sources use the terms Hebrew Bible and Old Testament, then, depending on the context of course, it is appropriate to use these terms in Wikipedia. The same goes for Tanach, however, you must realize that the same books are also used by non-Jews and they often use other names. Lindert (talk) 15:54, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Section on Esther as Babylonian Mythology[edit]

The section "Interpretation of Esther as a derivative of Babylonian Mythology" is too long to be included in this page. It should be abridged and linked to its own page. Thoughts?

Allegory[edit]

I cite:
"Thus, the Book of Esther must be read as an allegory for Babylonia's overcoming Elam " (italics are mine)
This does not sound like NPOV - I think there are more theories and opinions than just this one, both liberal and orthodox, and this is just one of them. TeunSpaans 22:41 Dec 3, 2002 (UTC)


Victorian Bible talk[edit]

The bolded text has been recently added: "Martin Luther, being perhaps the most vocal Reformation era critic of the work, considered even the original Hebrew version to be of very doubtful value." This is sage head-wagging, which does not add any information though it has a considered and judicious air. Posturing. A Luther quote concerning Esther would be like opening a window. Anyone? --Wetman 19:52, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Dabar.org quotes Martin Luther as saying the Book of Esther "Judaizes too much, and has in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness." A web search will find many sources for his commentary on the book. -- Reinyday 22:32, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)

NPOV and Disputed[edit]

The current article is largely an extremely dogmatic Biblical Minimalist polemic containing many biased opinions and factual errors. e.g. Ahasuerus is wrongly identified as the Persian king Xerxes I despite the fact that Xerxes I is over a century too late considering that Mordecai was one of the Babylonian exiles and moreover that traditionally he belongs to the Median dynasty not Persian, not to mention that Xerxes I didn't have a wife named Vashti. The article is in fact aware of this but has the audacity to smugly claim that it is the book of Esther that is wrong. Considering that Ahasuerus is also called Ahiahar in other sources a version of the Median name rendered in Greek as Cyaxares, the logical identification of Ahasuerus is with the Median king Cyaxares about whom very little is known - in particular there is nothing known about him that contradicts the book of Esther.

Other examples of nonsense are the attempts to link Esther to the goddess Ishtar. Although it might look convincing to the clueless the names are not related. The pagan goddess Ishtar was well known to the Jews who called her Ashtoreth. Judaism is clearly opposed to the worship of Ashtoreth, does it make sense that it would base a story of a national hero on her? The original Hebrew root for this name is ayin-shin-tav-resh. The name Esther on the other hand has aleph-samech-tav-resh. The Hebrew ayin (voiced pharyngeal fricative) and aleph (glottal stop) never interchange nor do the shin (English sh) and the samech (English s), to English ears the names might sound vaguely similar but in the ancient Middle East they are as different as seat, sheet or bet, vet or boat, both are to an English speaker. Moreover Hadassah is a genuine Hebrew word meaning a myrtle tree, not a presumed Babylonian word for bride and "ester" is just the Median word for myrtle tree. Mordecai does indeed appear to be related to the name of the Babylonian god Marduk but the article fails to point out that it is in fact an attested genuine name and that Jews conceivably used to Chaldean word "marduk" simply to mean God (like we use "God" in English despite the fact that the English word "God" originally referred to the pagan god Wodan) and that "Mordecai" means simply servant of God. Kuratowski's Ghost 01:06, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The claim that Haman is an Amalekite in the book of Esther is also NPOV bias, all that is said is that he is an Agagite. One interpretation is that this word refers to Agag the Amalekite king, and within this interpretation one may further consider it literal (a descendant of Agag) or metaphorical (an enemy of the Jews). But another more probable interpretation is that it simply means that he comes from the known town of Agag in Persia. Kuratowski's Ghost 01:32, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Can someone distill some neutral mainstream interpetation out of this and add it to the article please. Those "disputed" labels have certainly developed an unseemly reputation. --Wetman 02:27, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Without disagreeing entirely about the NPOV problems, I think K.G. is somewhat mistaken or misinformed, and I'm not sure that K.G.'s comments are entirely free of bias either.
Given the little information that we have about Ahasuerus, I don't think there is a consensus as to when this story takes place. It is commonly assumed that Ahasuerus=Xerxes, and this may or may not be true.
Although it is very likely that the name Ahasuerus like "Xerxes" is derived from Kshayarsha it is not entirely certain. Josephus for example refers to him as Artaxares. In some manuscripts of the book of Tobit Ahiahar replaces Ahashverosh (Ahasuerus) and Ahiahar is thought to derive from Akhuwakhshatra like "Cyaxares". In Jewish tradition Ahasuerus is a Mede like Cyaxares. All commonly made conjectures with their pros and cons should be mentioned. Kuratowski's Ghost 10:17, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Whether or not Mordecai was one of the exiles is also not clear - when we are told that Mordecai is the "son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite / Who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem," it is not clear if Mordecai or his great-grandfather was exiled. Thus, Mordecai may very well have lived three generations (roughly a century, I would assume) after the exile. Again, this is not an issue on which everyone is in agreement. It would probably be best to mention all the possibilities - or at least qualify the view expressed as one possible view among several.
Agreed, in fact this would knock down another Biblical minimalist argument that Mordecai has a too long lifespan. Kuratowski's Ghost 10:17, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Both the aleph and ayin AND the shin and samech are sometimes interchanged (I can't think of any specific examples right now, but there certainly are some)
I'll wait for an example :) Kuratowski's Ghost 10:17, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
, and I think the Ishtar-Esther links are pretty well established,
It is well established amongst smug Biblical minimalists but is essentially a "smart-ass" argument not serious scholarship. In what sense can Esther be derived from Ishtar. Did the character of Esther someohow evolve from Ishtar? Clearly not, there is essentially nothing in common between them other than that they are female - human Jewish female member of a Persian / Median Kings harem in the post-exilic period vs primaeval Babylonian mother goddess identified with the planet Venus, whose worship was known to Judaism and strongly opposed by it. The idea that Esther did not evolve from Ishtar but was deliberately based on her is even more bizarre. The equation of Esther and Ishtar is typical 19th century style pseudo-scholarship that automatically assumes tradition to be wrong and alternative contrived unlikely barely-plausible explanations invented by pseudo-intellectuals to be scientific fact. Kuratowski's Ghost 10:17, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Along similar lines one hears nonsense that Haman is really a demon in Babylonian mythology, a false claim, the demon in question is Humbaba not Haman. A variation on this tries to make Haman an alleged Elamite deity called Hooman and a similarly daft claims conjectures that Vashti is an Elamite water spirit named Mashti but neither of these names are attested in any reliably translated source, they remain pure conjecture motivated by a deliberate attempt to discredit the book of Esther. Kuratowski's Ghost 10:39, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
as are the Mordecai-Marduk links (although it's possible that Marduk is a generic term for god - I've never heard that, but I don't know that it's not true - which would mitigate the problem somewhat).
I agree on the Haman-Amalekite issue. Haman's being called an Agagite may refer to his hometown or to his family's (or father's) name. Associating this with Amalek is a closed canon approach that recognizes this Agag as the same one who was defeated (but not immediately killed) by Saul in the book of Samuel. Avi-Gil Chaitovsky 05:44, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Given what happens in Esther, it is clear that the reference to Haman as an Agagite is meant to say that he is descended from, or shares the ideas of, the Amalekites. Having it be his hometown or family name would be an irrelevant detail that plays no part in what happened.

Several weaknesses in the article as it stands:

  • Josephus. Josephus' retelling of Esther in Jewish Antiquities Book Xi, chapter 6 is not yet discussed as Kuratowski's Ghost has mentioned. An excellent External link to add is G.J. Goldberg, "Esther: Her Point of View: Josephus' Version with Commentary". Apparently no one around here has read it.
  • Ahasuerus. The king's name differs in the Hebrew and in the Septuagint: Josephus gives both. A report on the names, rather than a rave is in order. Josephus gives both names in Greek, but equates them: "Asueros, whom the Greeks call Artaxerxes". The entry does not make this textual identification clear, but introduces speculative identification of the king as if it were fact. Speculation about historical kings belongs at the entry Esther.
  • Historical conjecture. The historical conjectures belong at Esther which is nominally about the woman herself. This entry is about the Book of Esther, a text, its manuscripts, its interpretations and uses among Jews and Christians, its context.
  • Manuscript tradition. There are two texts, the Megilla version and the Septuagint version, which has six additions. There is a Talmudic commentary in the rabbinic tradition. And there is the retelling in Josephus. Four versions with slight differences. Not yet discussed.

Instead of amateurish etymologies and talk of "Chaldeans" why not begin with more basic omissions? --Wetman 11:16, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I am removing this page from my Watchlist rather than attempt to keep a minimum of intellectual honesty in the face of User:Kuratowski's Ghost ruthless subversion. You're on your own, folks--Wetman
How is trying to keep a sane balanced perspective as opposed to dogmatic Biblical minimalism "ruthless subversion"? The reality is that Bible believers outnumber Bible critics. Even amongst Bible critics, minimalism is just one school of thought and even amongst minimalists, few adhere to the spurious arguments of the late 19th and early 20th century. Kuratowski's Ghost 12:08, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

NPOV and Disputed removed[edit]

After cleaning up the article I am removing the NPOV and disputed tags. The article as it stands now makes no dogmatic statements about who Ahasuerus is or when the events precisely occur and has a section introducing the reader to the debate around the historicity of the book highlighting the real issues of harmonizing with Greek sources as opposed to the arguments of 19th century pseudo-scholarship.

I'm also removing the peer review tag from this talk page, it isn't the talk page that needed peer review. If anyone feels that the article needs peer review, feel free to add the peer review tag to the article. Kuratowski's Ghost 12:19, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

That's not the way to do it, I'm afraid. a) The peer review tag always goes on the talk page, never on the article itself. This is because it's for editors, not readers. Please see the instructions on Wikipedia:Peer review, top of the page. b) Peer review is not for article content disputes, but for bringing near-Featured quality articles up to Featured quality, please see the same instructions. The appropriate place for article content disputes is Wikipedia:Requests for Comment, and I have just now moved Wetman's peer review request for Book of Esther there. All fixed, everybody happy, I hope. --Bishonen | Talk 15:57, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Restoring the suppressed other voice[edit]

Without interfering with the "history" view, to which I have returned some "lost" text that others may want to retain, I have added once more an improved version of the normal "narrative text" reading of Esther, suppressed by Kuratowski's Ghost, who will not permit this mainstream viewpoint to be heard. --Wetman 13:58, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Sorry Wetman but your view is most certainly not the mainstream viewpoint. Mainstream viewpoint is that it is largely historical. The 1910 Jewish Encyclopedia is not a particularly good source for this because it still uses old arguments that were subsequently overturned. Kuratowski's Ghost 23:49, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I've made a few changes harmonizing the 1910 based paragraphs with the rest of the article and linked articles, in particular fixing dogmatic interpretations and removing factually innacurate and defunct theories about the names Esther and Marduk. Kuratowski's Ghost 00:39, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Harmonizing indeed: the Page history tells the tale. I have restored perfect balance between the "Historical" and the Narrative so that they are equally introduced. I have not edited the "Historical" material, needless to say. I've received a notice at my Talkpage: "your edits are bordering on vandalism, stuffing quotes from a 1910 encyclopedia in the Esther article when thinking has changed since then is silly. Kuratowski's Ghost 10:24, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Quite to the contrary, the "1910 encyclopedia" is the thorough and still respectable, though ageing Jewish Encyclopedia, not really very "silly" at the article Book of Esther. Apparently a great deal more has to be brought to bear on Esther as narrative. I've noticed though that this User's edits are quite often better than they appear here. --Wetman 10:54, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

There are indeed points that can be added to the narrative reading section, but the Jewish Encyclopedia article does contain several defunct views like Esther = Ishtar and erroneous claims like Hadassah meaning bride. If you want to add more, do so but don't create a collage of pasted quotes. Kuratowski's Ghost 11:05, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Historicity[edit]

Well, I was going to wonder why there's a long discussion of what precise historical incident the book of Esther might be about, and lengthy comparisons of various Persian queens, while the mainstream scholarly view that the book of Esther is a "work of didactic fiction" is relegated to a couple of sentences about the views of "some readers," but then I read the discussion above. Kuratowski's Ghost, can you provide any support for the claim that the "mainstream viewpoint is that it is largely historical?" I have read a moderate amount about this subject, and I have never seen any mainstream scholars attempting to claim that the story is even slightly historical, except that the name of King Ahasuerus represents the same name as Xerxes. The account in Britannica, for instance, seems highly dubious as to the historical value of the Esther story. The Columbia account does not even purport any historical validity to the book. Beyond this, KG seems to be making claims that I have never heard any members of the book make. Specifically, the idea that Ahasuerus is a Median king living in the mid 6th century BC. Among other things, a Median king would not have been living in Shushan. But this seems to be based on Darius the Mede as son of Ahasuerus, when there is no reason to think that the two Ahasueri are the same, or that the Book of Esther and the Book of Daniel are internally consistent. At any rate, I would be interested if one might point to a) any secular scholars of the Bible; or b) any historians of ancient Persia, who believe the Book of Esther to be "largely historical." An opinion held only by apologists is not the "mainstream viewpoint." I also object to the idea that believing the Book of Esther to be a work of fiction makes one a "Biblical minimalist." There are many secular historians who believe the Books of Samuel and Kings, and of Ezra and Nehemiah, are essentially historical. Most would, I think, say the same of 1 Maccabees (which is, admittedly, deuterocanonical/apocryphal). Most would accept that parts, at least, of the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Nahum, Haggai and Zechariah (at least) are from the times they say they are. I have never read any secular scholarship that believes the Book of Esther to be anything but a romance. Just as I have never read any secular scholarship which believes the Book of Daniel to have been written before the period of Antiochus Epiphanes. The position of mainstream secular scholarship is that the Book of Esther is not historical. This is also the position of the Biblical minimalists, but the latter also believe that the Book of Kings is not historical and that almost none of the Bible was written very long before the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Pretending that people who say that the Book of Kings is not historical and that the Bible was probably entirely written in the 2nd century BC and people who say that the Book of Esther is not historical are the same group is not helpful. john k 18:59, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

This book review of the JPS Commentary on Esther shows that the author of said commentary does not believe the book to be at all historical. The review author seems to be more ambivalent, but also does not come down on the side of historicity. A 1975 article by Cary Moore in the Biblical Archaeologist notes "Even though the Book of Esther claims to be a strictly historical account, ever since the work of J. S. Semler in 1773, that claim has increasingly been rejected, to the point that in the twentieth century only a handful of critical scholars have strenuously argued for the book's historical accuracy." Moore goes on to argue that the story is not itself that implausible, that there are some indirect confirmations in classical sources, and then to point to some features in the Persian records, particularly the existence of an official named Marduka, that are suggestive of the accuracy of the Esther story. But his concern seems to be more to demonstrate that the Esther story hasn't been disproven than to prove it correct. Which, again, speaks to the inaccuracy of KG's gloss that the mainstream position is that it's historical. Most of the recent reviews of books about Esther that I found in JSTOR were purely literary stories, and most seem to assume that the book is essentially a work of fiction. At best, the second-half-of-the-twentieth-century references in JSTOR show an idea of Esther as perhaps containing a kernel of historical truth. Even Moore, who seems most engaged to show the potential historical validity of Esther, admits that the supposed status of Esther herself in the Book seems quite unlikely given what we know of the Persian history of the period. It seems to me that we should present the view of Esther as, at best, a "historical romance" as being the dominant one, and only give limited attention to efforts to find a real historical event as the basis of it. In particular, discussions of Artaxerxes I or II as Ahasuerus, which are sanctioned neither by tradition (which views him as being Xerxes) nor by mainstream scholarship (which views him as probably a fictionalized version of Xerxes), should not get too much attention. john k 19:55, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

Quite a lengthy essay, but the short of it is, yes the majority of "modernist" and "post-modernist" critics reject historicity, duh. However, the majority of all people who study the Bible, not just those who start from a POV of disbelief, happen to be Christian and consider it historical, dismissing them as "apologists" or "literalists" or whatever, doesn't make them disappear. Jewish scholars also regard it as historical and take it very seriously, again they outnumber the few vocal critics who abuse academic position to push a view that is not held by the majority of all who study the Bible including mainstream Christians and Jews. Take a look at The Historicity of Megillat Esther for a good discussion. Yes other views on the historicity do belong in the article but not hokey long rejected claims like Esther = Ishtar. Currently the discussion of other views is small partly the result of an edit war I had with Wetman where my main objection was that undigested material from the badly outdated Jewish Encyclopedia was being cut and pasted into the article without any attempts to harmonize with the rest of the article or to take into account that a lot of what that source says has subsequently been debunked.
You will find many views in the literature on who Ahasuerus is, the equation with Cyaxares is one that is based on the interpretation that it was Mordecai himself who was taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzer thus making Ahasuerus the same as the one in Tobit, a view that certainly needs to be mentioned. Kuratowski's Ghost 22:39, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

The question of whether a book is accurate history is something which is best left for historians. I also take exception to the idea that all religious people somehow are Biblical inerrantists. My understanding is that a pretty large number of "mainstream" Christian and Jewish scholars of the Bible would agree that the Book of Esther is, at best, a historical romance. Pretending that the views of fundamentalist Christians and Jews are somehow synonymous with the views of all religious people is offensive. Furthermore, I am not objecting to the idea that the traditional understanding of these books as historical should appear in the article. What I am objecting to is apologetics, which is not the same thing at all. The traditional version of Esther is that it is a historical account of happenings in the reign of Xerxes. That should definitely be included. What should not be included are treating the response of apologetics to modern criticism of the implausibility of the Esther story as though they are mainstream scholarship. They are not. They are, in fact, not scholarship at all. Both the traditional view of the Book of Esther and the mainstream scholarly view should be represented. But apologetics should not be. What you are doing is conflating apologetics with the traditional understanding of Esther, but they are not the same at all. Pretending that only some tiny minority of "modernist" scholars object to Esther, while the vast majority of "traditional" scholars accept its literal truth, is absurd. While it may be true that the vast majority of people who have read the Book of Esther accept that it is true, it is most certainly not true that they accept that it is true because they are convinced by the arguments of apologists. They accept that it is true because they believe the Bible to be true. I would venture to suggest that the kind of apologetics that have us searching through the Kings Artaxerxes for the "real" story of Esther and looking to (Babylonian?) Persian officials named "Mardukku" as representing Mordecai have convinced nobody of anything. As I pointed out before, there are plenty of mainstream sources that accept Samuel and Kings, Ezra and Nehemiah, and the prophetic books as legitimate historical sources of the times they purport to describe. There do not appear to be such for Esther, unless you can point to some. The fact that traditional Christians and Jews believe in Esther is completely irrelevant. Would you have us describe the Great Flood as a historical event, as well? john k 23:46, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

Since I include "historical romance" in what I call "largely historical", I think we actually agree a lot. But there is still a wide spectrum within "historical romance". How much is history and how much is romance? Is only Ahasuerus historical and Esther and Mordecai fictional or are all major characters historical and only minor characters fictional or are all names mentioned historical? The problem is we simply do not know enough to judge honestly how much is history and how much is embellishment of the kind found say in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and I'd say that looking at Persian sources to find a historical Mordecai is worthwhile if it can shed some light on the issue. The Greek sources on Persia are skimpy, based on hearsay and contradict each other and also contain fictional embellishments (e.g. Xenophon's Cyropaedia) so the fact that they do not mention the events of Esther tells us nothing. As for arguments about improbable elements in Esther this is something that is very subjective, what seems highly improbable to one person might appear to another as exactly what one would expect for those times so again nothing conclusive can be said. Kuratowski's Ghost 00:24, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

KG - I would suggest that most scholars that I was able to find anything about on JSTOR take it for granted that the historical content is minimal. At best, the setting in the Persian court seems to contain accurate details, Ahasuerus's character seems to be more or less close to what we know of Xerxes's character from Herodotus If it could be demonstrated that the official "Mardukku" (whose name rather strongly suggests a Babylonian origin) was, in fact, a Jew, then this would be a useful endeavor. But as it is, there is no especial reason to see this as representing a historical element. Over all, the form of the Book of Esther suggests that it is essentially a fiction, and there is nothing in it which is confirmable as historical. If it were not a Biblical book, I am uncertain as to why we would even think that it might be historical. Obviously, if Persian documents appeared that confirmed some basic kernel of historical truth for the story, things would be different. But as it is, it is a document which is, as you admit, clearly not written in the style of a history, and which has no corroboration whatsoever from any external sources. Starting from a position of agnosticism, there is no particular reason to imagine that this is anything but a largely fictional story. It may be based on some kernel of historical truth. But there is no evidence to suggest that it is. This is in contrast to, say, Nehemiah, which is written in the form of an autobiography While there is, so far as I am aware, no particular external corroboration of Nehemiah, either, Nehemiah is written in a way which gives us no particular reason to doubt that it is an essentially historical work. Esther, on the other hand, is a romance. There is no internal reason to consider it historical in terms of its form, and there is no external reason to consider it historical in terms of corroboration. There is much that is apparently absurd in the story told (the unchangeable edicts of the Persian kings, for instance), and once all the obvious contrivance is removed, it is hard to see what is left of the story, besides the existence of a Persian king named Ahasuerus, which nobody is denying (Ezra also mentions Ahasuerus, no?) This is why I keep bringing up apologetics. The only reason to try to argue for its historical nature is not scholarly, but is rather apologetic - based on a belief that the Bible is complete historical truth. It is unacceptable to treat this as though it is historically equivalent to the work of actual scholars. john k 01:17, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

You are arguing against historicity largely on your gut feel to the book based on its style. I argue that historicity is the majority view because the majority of Christians and Jews view it as largely historical and have for centuries, compare this with say traditional views of the book of Job. No completely convincing argument has been produced that the book is not largely based on history so the majority still regard it as largely historical and contrary to what Bible critics like to think, this is not because the average religious person is less intelligent or isn't aware of the arguments of the critics. The style of the book says nothing, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is a play in rhyming couplets yet no one would argue that this means that there is no historical content in it. Kuratowski's Ghost 09:32, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

No, what I am saying is that we have to treat modern scholarship as the basis of our discussion of what modern scholarship says about the Book of Esther, and that the traditional Christian and Jewish views have nothing to do with scholarship. Modern scholarship does not see the Book of Esther as historical. The most it will allow is some tiny kernel of historical truth. This is a fact which you admit. The problem is, you are trying to put the weight of Jewish and Christian tradition in the service of apologetical "scholarship." But the traditional view is just that - a traditional view. It should be reported. But it is not scholarship, and the pseudo-scholarship of apologists should not be treated as equivalent to actual scholarship just because it endeavors to back up the traditional view that a lot of people hold for reasons having nothing to do with the conclusions of pseudo-scholarly apologetics. Julius Caesar is a red herring - we have plenty of historical sources which confirm the play's basis in real history - Appian, Dio Cassius, Plutarch, and so forth. We do not have any such sources for the story of Esther. I would add that Shakespeare's historical plays provide much more plausibly historical stories than the Book of Esther does. And that you should perhaps take another look at Julius Caesar if you think it is written in rhyming couplets. A better analogy to a Shakespeare play might be to Cymbeline. The play is titled for an actual historical figure - Cunobelinus - but there is no especial evidence for the existence of any of the other figures depicted in the play, and the plot itself is full of unlikely contrivances. And, guess what, scholars don't view Cymbeline as a historical play (nor do they so view the source it was based on, which I assume is Holinshed or some such)! Just as they don't view Esther as a historical book. Of course it hasn't been proven to be unhistorical - our records of the Persian kings are too patchy for us to fully exclude the possibility that real events may be depicted. But there is likewise no particular reason for us to view it as true. And of course scholars look to generic markers to help them determine if a document has historical value. The generic markers of Esther do not of themselves suggest that it is a history, and, in fact, the ridiculousness of the plot suggests fairly strongly that it is not. The fact that the traditional view is that it is history is rather irrelevant, especially since we don't really see any commentary on Esther until centuries after the time depicted, around the time when Talmudic scholars were composing chronologies of the world that only gave fifty years to the Persian period! john k 14:15, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

You are still using subjective arguments. And what you call "scholarship" can be dismissed by the opposing view as Atheist Apologetics and anti-Bible pseudo-scholarship in the same way that you dismiss their view as Christian or Jewish Apologetics and pseudo-scholarship. You are dismissing all the contributions of those who accept the traditional views and using the word "scholarship" to mean precisely the views of those who reject the traditional view and who use shakey subjective apologetical arguments to justify their dogmatic rejection of the traditional view.

The WebBible Encylopedia which represents a typical Christian scholarly view (as opposed to "burn in hell if you don't believe" view) states:

This book is more purely historical than any other book of Scripture; and it has this remarkable peculiarity that the name of God does not occur in it from first to last in any form.

The Catholic Encyclopedia which although dated still represents the typical Catholic scholarly (not blind belief) view says:

Some of the modern critics who have fixed upon late dates for the composition of the book deny that it has any historical value whatever, and declare it to be a work of the imagination, written for the purpose of popularizing the feast of Purim. In support of their contention they point out in the text what appear to be historical improbabilities, and attempt to show that the narrative has all the characteristics of a romance, the various incidents being artfully arranged so as to form a series of contrasts and to develop into a climax. But what seem to be historical improbabilities are in many cases trivial. Even advanced critics do not agree as to those which seem quite serious. While some, for instance, consider it wholly improbable that Assuerus and Aman should have been ignorant of the nationality of Esther, who was in frequent communication with Mardochai, a well-known Jew, others maintain that it was quite possible and probable that a young woman, known to be a Jewess, should be taken into the harem of a Persian king, and that with the assistance of a relative she should avert the ruin of her people, which a high official had endeavoured to effect. The seeming improbability of other passages, if not entirely explained, can be sufficiently explained to destroy the conclusion, on this ground, that the book is not historical. As to artful contrasts and climax to which appeal is made as evidences that the book is the work of a mere romancer, it may be said with Driver (op. cit.) that fact is stranger than fiction, and that a conclusion based upon such appearances is precarious. There is undoubtedly an exercise of art in the composition of the work, but no more than any historian may use in accumulating and arranging the incidents of his history. A more generally accepted opinion among contemporary critics is that the work is substantially historical. Recognizing the author's close acquaintance with Persian customs and institutions, they hold that the main elements of the work were supplied to him by tradition, but that, to satisfy his taste for dramatic effect, he introduced details which were not strictly historical. But the opinion held by most Catholics and by some Protestants is, that the work is historical in substance and in detail. They base their conclusions especially on the following:

the vivacity and simplicity of the narrative; the precise and circumstantial details, as, particularly, the naming of unimportant personages, the noting of dates and events; the references to the annals of the Persians; the absence of anachronisms; the agreement of proper names with the time in which the story is placed; the confirmation of details by history and arheology; the celebration of the feast of Purim in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews by Esther and Mardochai at the time of the Machabees (II Mach., xv, 37), at the time of Josephus (Antiq of the Jews, XI, vi, 13), and since.

The explanation of some that the story of Esther was engrafted on a Jewish feast already existing and probably connected with a Persian festival, is only a surmise. Nor has any one else succeeded better in offering an explanation of the feast than that it had its origin as stated in the Book of Esther.

Gil Student whose views are that of the typical Jewish scholar (as opposed to unquestioning naive believer) says:

... there is ample basis to support the claim that the book of Esther is historical and accurate. No, not all historians accept this. But many prominent historians do, so the challenge that the book of Esther is ahistorical lacks force.

These are all scholarly views not simply blind belief or dogmatic claims of biblical inerrancy. Kuratowski's Ghost 16:00, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

No, they are not blind belief or dogmatic claims of biblical inerrancy. What the WebBible is is apologetics, and it admits as much. If you want to pretend it's scholarship, then we have to pretend that intelligent design is scholarship.

The Catholic Encyclopedia is a century old - it is utterly irrelevant to any discussion of what the scholarly consensus is today. Here's the Catholic Encyclopedia on Karl Lueger: He was anti-Semitic only because Semitism in Austria was politically synonymous with political corruption and oppressive capitalism. Does that mean that the scholarly consensus is that Lueger's anti-semitism was justified by those oppressive capitalist Jews?

This is garbage. I'm going to change the article. john k 21:04, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Or not. The article at present is such a mess that I don't even know where to start. john k 21:08, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

BTW, if you're going to quote the Catholic Encyclopedia, I should be free to quote back at you the 1911 Britannica, which already is of the view that Esther is nonsense as far as history goes. See [1]. It is deeply sad that an encyclopedia from 1911 has a more modern account of the Book of Esther than wikipedia does. john k 21:31, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Unfinished Persepolis[2] on Persepolis discussion page puts forward some historical material on historicity of the Esther. You can update the Historicity section according to those facts. 87.247.162.2 (talk) 13:12, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Hi. Has anyone read this article: "עיון במגילת אסתר" ("In depth discussion of the Book of Esther") by Rabbi(?) Y. Ashkenazi, first published in the journal "דבר בעתו", Vilna c.1878? The article describes Persian society, and to some extent history, as based on Herodotus (claimed in the article to be our primary source for Persian history (is that so?)). It then shows that the events in Esther are consistent with our knowledge of Persian society. Any comments would be welcome. Thanks. Fintor (talk) 11:40, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

NPOVed because of "reasoned arguments"[edit]

From the Compact Oxford Dictionary

apologetics • plural noun treated as sing. or pl. reasoned arguments defending a theory or doctrine.

Currently this article has been marked as an NPOV controversy because it includes reasoned arguments ("apologetics") against hokey anti-Bible criticism ("scholarship") as opposed to presenting the hokey arguments without reasoned counter arguments. Am I missing something, shouldn't the article be marked NPOV if only included criticism without counter views? Kuratowski's Ghost 03:33, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Sigh. The traditional view of the book of Esther is significant to mention, because it is the traditional view held by millions of believers over several millennia as to the nature of the book. The views of modern scholars are significant in so far as the views of modern scholars are significant in any topic - an encyclopedia should endeavour to explain what the principal scholars in a given field say about a topic. The views of Jewish and Christian apologists are not equally significant, because they are essentially dubious - they are supported neither by centuries of tradition nor by modern scholarly consensus. You obviously have a prejudice against modern Biblical scholarship. The fact is, that for two centuries now, scholars have considered the Book of Esther to be largely ahistorical. You may not like this, but that is the way things are. If both Britannica and the Jewish Encyclopedia devoted most of their discussion of the book to discussion of why it is historically implausible a century ago, and if no serious scholars have come along since to argue in favor of historicity (which, so far as I'm aware, they haven't), then the basic fact is that the scholarly consensus is that it is not historical, even if there's a few apologists who argue otherwise. If it were really plausible that the book was historical, don't you think there would be some secular scholar somewhere who would be arguing for this? There are many secular scholars who have been willing to argue for the basic historicity of most of Samuel and Kings, and of the Prophetic books. I think most secular scholars would argue for the basic historicity of Ezra and Nehemiah. Until recently, at least, many secular scholars have argued for at least a moderate amount of historicity for the narratives of Joshua and Judges. This simply isn't the case for Esther - the overwhelming consensus is that it is not historical. The picture you want to paint is utterly misleading. Can you provide me with a scholar who will both a) defend the historicity of Esther; and b) argue that the Patriarch narrative in Genesis is largely fictional. Or who will both defend Esther and agree that Daniel was written under Antiochus IV? Or who will defend the historicity of Esther and agree that "Second Isaiah" was written around the time of Cyrus? If everyone who's arguing for Esther being historical is also arguing that Noah's flood really happened (and I wouldn't be surprised if this is not far from the truth), then it simply isn't a valid scholarly position - it is an apologetical position. So, I want you to point me to some actual scholars, and not Christian fundamentalist apologists, who argue that Esther is largely historical. Even one citation and I will agree to remove the NPOV notice. john k 07:04, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

The problem I have is that what you call "modern Biblical scholarship" is a minority humanistic university based clique, I am looking at a wider view of opinions including Christian and Jewish study which are not simply blind belief and which outnumbers the humanist university clique. Personally I am biased against universities hosting anything other than true science subjects rooted in logic and experimental evidence as opposed to hokey humanities based on subjective opinion and arrogance and back-patting amongst like minded types. Kuratowski's Ghost 13:16, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
What is presented in Wikipedia about General Relativity and Quantum field theory is also the work of a minority university based clique. Sould we do a popular vote on the Axiom of choice or the Banach-Tarski paradox? Presenting the scholarly opinion is the raison d’être of an encyclopedia. In contrast, widely help dissenting beliefs should be reported as such. --Pjacobi 17:12, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
False analogy. General relativity and Quantum field theory do not have large bodies of scholarship outside modern universities. Moreover if someone who is not part of academia comes up with something demonstrably correct about these subjects their views will indeed be accepted by those in academia. Kuratowski's Ghost 18:17, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
Mainstream religious scholarship (mainline Protestants, Catholics, Reform and Conservative Jews) largely accepts the conclusions of modern Biblical scholarship. Seminaries for these groups generally teach critical Bible scholarship of a similar sort to that taught by the "humanist university clique." Believing the Book of Esther to be ahistorical is not simply the view of a tiny clique of effete postmodernist professors at Berkeley. It is a long established position on the book - one that was already so well established a century ago that both Britannica and the Jewish Encyclopedia accepted it without demur (although both have some questions as to the Marduk/Ishtar theory), while the more traditionalist Catholic Encyclopedia spends much of its article attempting to refute the theory. At any rate, we're getting nowhere. I've listed this page on Wikipedia:Requests for comment. john k 14:49, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

And, wait, did you just say that universities shouldn't even have humanities or (presumably) social science departments? I hope it is more than just my threatened self-interest as a history PhD student that says that this is insane. At any rate, let me briefly lay out my problem here. Basically, KG seems to want to pretend that, with respect to the Bible, there are only two sides - essentially, fundamentalists on the one side, and minimalists (denying any historicity to the Bible) on the other. Thus, the position that the Book of Esther (or the Book of Daniel) is of late date and non-historical become "minimalist" arguments. But this kind of thinking eliminates the vast middle ground occupied by most of mainstream scholarship onz the Bible.

Definitely not what I am saying as I am part of that vast middle ground.
I know this is what you say. But you are defining it in an odd way. Again, it is not just "minimalists" who think that the Book of Esther is not historical. That Esther is ahistorical is the consensus of exactly the same scholars who find much of the rest of the Bible to be historical. john k 19:37, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

While there are certainly some scholars who try to claim that pretty much nothing in the Bible is historical (I am highly dubious of this endeavor), and that the Old Testament was mostly written in the Hellenistic period, most scholars probably do not accept this. They accept the historicity of the basic historical narrative, at least from the United Kingdom period onwards, date many of the Biblical books to the pre-exilic period, and so forth. There is pretty fierce debate between scholars who accept the Old Testament as largely historical in parts and those who contend that it is almost entirely fictional. What there is not any debate about is Esther, because everyone has accepted it as almost entirely fictional for a few centuries now. john k 15:45, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

No, that is precisely my point, it is not rejected as ahistorical by the vast middle ground, there is a spectrum of opinion ranging from on the one extreme an interpretation that the book is historical and that it is the very contents of the letter written that it mentions in the last verse, to the other extreme that it is entirely fictional and that even trying to identify which Persian king is meant by Ahasuerus is pointless. Yet you are trying to dismiss anyone who argues for any historicity as not belonging to "scholarship" even if they are part of academia, like Yamauchi, Moore and Kitchen or from modern enlightened seminaries like for example Heifetz and Student, all of whom argue for historicity. Kuratowski's Ghost 18:17, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

NO, KG, you are ignoring my point. There is a vast middle ground on the Bible in general. This includes most academics and mainline religious groups. This middle ground would claim that much of the Bible is historical, but that much of the Bible is not historical. One of the parts, though, which the "vast middle ground" almost uniformly rejects as largely to wholly unhistorical is the Book of Esther. This middle position, to which you claim to adhere, is really not that far from the position which, a century ago, we find in Britannica and the Jewish Encyclopedia, which already accepts the fictionality of the Book of Esther as well-established. You have yet to present any citation to anyone besides fundamentalists who argues for the historicity of Esther. As I said before, if you can one non-fundamentalist scholar who makes serious argument for the historicity of Esther; to one scholar who is willing to admit the late date of Daniel but also makes arguments that Esther is based on real history, I am willing to back down. But you have not done this as yet. As far as I can tell, there seems to be some actual scholarly debate on Esther, as to whether it is a work of the Persian period or of the Hellenistic period. It seems to me that it would behoove this article to analyze this debate, rather than the nonsense of hashing out the various arguments of fundamentalists trying to determine which Persian king Ahasuerus "really" was. john k 19:27, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Yamauchi (himself holding university tenure) mentions several other prominent scholars, Moore, Gordis, Shea, Wright, Schedl who all advocate various degrees of historicity for Esther, but you will obviouly reject them as "apologists" despite the fact that they are clearly part of mainstream academic scholarship. Basically you're saying you will only accept a view of a scholar, even tenured university professors, if they are non-believers, you are the one who is rejecting neutrality. Your perception that the majority of scholars consider Esther to be ahistorical is a result of your narrow definition of scholarship that automatically rejects "believers" (despite the fact that none of them simply advocate views based on blind belief). A neutral position includes the views of all scholars and doesn't censor those who have different religious beliefs to you. Kuratowski's Ghost 09:26, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

This article seems to ignore that the single most common POV in reform and liberal Jewish communities is that the book is fictional. That's what they told me in synagogue. Andre (talk) 03:40, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

The article includes sections discussing three views: that it is historical, that it is fictional and that it is a religious allegory, surely the view you were taught is covered under the second and/or third views? Kuratowski's Ghost 09:26, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

The point is that the article, and, even more explicitly on the talk page, you, seem to imply that everyone religious views the book as historical, and that only "some" secular scholars view it as fictional. This is about the opposite of the truth, which is that all secular scholars and most mainstream religious groups are perfectly content to accept the book as fictional. Only Christian fundamentalists and Orthodox Jews demand the book's historicity, that I'm aware of. john k 16:47, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

The Historical section[edit]

The section on historical arguments for Esther seems to be rather short on sourcing. The stuff about Ahasuerus as Xerxes seems well-established enough, but the rest of it is unsourced. I seem to have some vague sense that a book was written which identified some story of Artaxerxes II as the basis for Esther. But what is the source for the idea that Artaxerxes I was Esther? Artaxerxes I is normally taken to be referred to by his own name in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (the former also mentions Ahasuerus as a king between Darius and Artaxerxes, suggesting that Josephus and the Septuagint were simply wrong in translating Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes...) At any rate, I think some source is needed for Artaxerxes I=Ahasuerus. I think the identification of Ahasuerus with Cyaxares is even more problematic and needs to be sourced. I find it hard to see a Biblical literalist making such an argument, since Cyaxares didn't rule in Shushan, where the story takes place, and since there is no evidence of Jews in exile in Media (Israelites, maybe, but not the exiles from Judah). Finally, I've removed the paragraph about the "discoveries" of Chaim Heifetz. Heifetz is a fringe figure, and has tried to argue that the Seder Olam, which gives only 50 years to the Persian period, gives a more accurate account of Persian history than the classical sources (and, implicitly, numerous Persian and Babylonian sources which Heifetz ignores). See here for a sympathetic summary of Heifetz's ideas. While such ideas, if they have been published, might warrant an article of their own (we should certainly have an article on the Seder Olam), they should not be discussed in other articles as though they are relevant to historical fact. john k 16:30, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

The history section is indeed in need of better sourcing, I will try improve over time. I'm glad that you have started expanding the narrative reading section, but I think some of your edits in the history section are POV I will try reword to make it more neutral in tone e.g. the claim that its mainly Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians who support historicity, they are obviously included in that group but to me it seems that there is a broader support. I have two colleagues who are former theology students and their perspective is that an historical reading is seriously considered by many and that the tide has turned against the critics, which is my assessment as well. Its also not necessary to keep emphasizing "those who are committed ...", it would be like repeating all over the narrative section something like "those antagonistic to tradition ...".
If a historical reading is gaining ground, I'd like to see a single citation, rather than hearsay about your former theology student colleagues. Considering that books of the bible which, at the time of the 1911 Britannica, were still considered to be reasonably reliable history (notably the account of the united kingdoms period in Samuel and 1 Kings) are increasingly considered to be more legendary than historical, I find it hard to believe that biblical books which have been considered largely ahistorical for the last 150 years should suddenly be having a come back. So, again, I ask you to cite sources which support historicity which are not from fundamentalist Christians and Orthodox Jews. I agree that my language about "those committed to tradition" was probably overkill. As to the actual sourcing, surely you can provide some sources for the basic arguments you mention? Who has identified Artaxerxes I as Ahasuerus? Who has identified Cyaxares as Ahasuerus? john k 23:58, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
The Ahasuerus of Daniel and Tobit being identified with Cyaxares is fairly standard stuff and you can find it in Smith's Bible Dictionary for example. It was 15 years ago when I studied this and all I have are my class notes which didn't list references, so I don't have a reference off hand for who first suggested that Ahasuerus of Esther might be the same one as that of Daniel and Tobit. It logically ties in with the interpretation that it was Mordecai who was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzer. Comments I have jotted down are that this would mean that the Cush he ruled might not be Ethiopia but Cossaea in Iran or that it is a biased portrayal that makes the Babylonian empire already part of the Persian empire before the fact. Kuratowski's Ghost 00:52, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I've seen that Ahasuerus identified with Cyaxares. What I want to know is a source who suggests that the Ahasuerus of Esther is the same. It should be noted that Cyaxares ruled from Ecbatana, not Susa (Shushan), which tells against this. (Let's also remember that this still leaves us with the Book of Ezra's Ahasuerus, who reigns between Darius and Artaxerxes). And also that, well, Tobit and Daniel are not the two most historically respected books of scripture. john k 02:56, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Heifetz has gone through an exercise of seeing if Greek and other sources can be reconciled with the traditional Jewish dating, something which is part of a growing movement that is questioning the convential dating being used by the mainstream, but the info about Haman and Hamedatha is independent of his views on dating and I think it is a relevant piece of information to include and I will put it back but with some more info on him so that the reader is aware that he is considered fringe amongst the mainstream. Kuratowski's Ghost 20:55, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
No compromise on Heifetz. Heifetz is a fringe figure, and we shouldn't be discussing his dubious reconstructions as though they are actual scholarship. A man who claims that Herodotus was writing at the court of King Antigonus should not be presented as though he is an actual scholar. BTW, is your "growing movement that is questioning the conventional dating being used by the mainstream" meant to indicate that you think there is some merit to this project? BTW, here is a much less sympathetic discussion of Heifetz. But do you really think the Jewish dating might be more accurate than the traditional dating? It just doesn't work - Greek history simply can't be compressed in the way Heifetz wants it to, and, to be honest, the article I link above convinces me that Heifetz simply cannot be seriously at all. He is a quack, and anything he says is utterly suspect. john k 23:58, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I have to agree that Dr. Heifetz's work should not be included in this article. I say this as someone who thinks Heifetz is probably correct, at least in the broad outlines of what he is trying to do. Despite this, the fact remains that the Heifetz revision has not been worked out even in its own terms yet. If there is an article on chronological revisions, Heifetz's work should be mentioned, as well as my work, which continues from what he started, while correcting numerous errors. That said, I'd point out as well that Velikovsky's work is just as unworkable as Heifetz's in its original form. In each case, further development has been done by other researchers who have dismissed large parts of the original hypotheses. The article you cited as less sympathetic to Heifetz's work deals with the original essay, and ignores the fact that even those who consider Heifetz's work a good starting point do not accept many of the details he included. Lisa Liel 18:05, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
But is Heifetz the first and only person to connect Omanus and Anadatus of Strabo with Haman and Hammedatha, thats the only bit I wanted remaining in the article. Kuratowski's Ghost 23:34, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
No. Heifetz got that, if I'm not mistaken, from the Jacob Hoschander's The Book of Esther in the Light of History, which was written back in the 1920s. Hoschander argued that the events of Esther were historical, and that they took place in the reign of Artaxerxes II. He accepts the conventional chronology of the period without question, and views the story as reflecting the struggle between Mithraism and Zoroastrianism during that king's reign. He identifies Vashti as Stateira (from an original Persian Washta-Teira, which is the Persian equivalent of the Babylonian name Yapat-Nabu). Hoschander's book has been out of print for a long time, but you can find it in libraries. Lisa Liel 16:19, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
Hoschander's book is back in print for anyone interested in looking at the sources he brings to bear on this discussion. I think that given the arguments Hoschander makes, the historicity of Esther should not be dismissed as cavalierly as it has been by some editors here. Lisa Liel 14:06, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Well the situation is that Orthodox Judaism accepts the traditional dating and has a complete mistrust of modern scholarship. Heifetz takes the standard traditional dating and tries to reconcile it with Greek and other sources. He is radical and fringe as a scholar (I wouldn't go so far as to call him a quack) but isn't saying anything new from an Orthodox Jewish perspective. Aaronson and Liel seem to be more zealous to be polite, but Heifetz's work is an academic exercise, he doesn't say conventional dating is definitely wrong and Seder Olam Rabbah is definitely right, he basically says that the latter has not been disproven to the extent people assume nor is conventional dating as well established as one is led to believe, and that it is theoretically possible to reconcile traditional dating with the evidence. (And given the purely scientific criticism that exists of the use of eclipse data to establish conventional dates one realizes that the conventional dating is indeed not infallible.) I'd say that the various chronology revisionists liker Peter James and David Rohl (and I suppose Heifetz as well) have left me less certain than I once was of the reliability of the dating constructed by mainstream scholarship but I have yet to be convinced of anything by them. I'd prefer if his obervations on Omanus and Anadatus remained. Actually I wonder if this is really his original idea or whether he is repeating something observed by others. Kuratowski's Ghost 00:52, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

The second link I gave has some comments about Heifetz's discussion of Purim - it seems dubious to me. Some of its quotations from Heifetz also suggest rather clearly that he is not simply conducting an intellectual exercise. And the steps by which it is necessary for his project to work - identifying the two highly dissimilar Battles of Mantinea as a single battle, for instance; claiming that the Cyrus who conquered Babylon is Cyrus the Younger; making Darius I identical to Darius III (and sometimes, to Darius II as well) - none of this actually works even slightly. Rohl and James's reconstructions are less utterly insane, but they still fall apart on the rock of the Assyrian King List and the various synchronisms of the Amarna period. For Rohl to work, for instance, there has to be both an otherwise unknown Burnaburiash and an otherwise unknown Ashuruballit in the late 11th century. Or the Assyrian king list has to be utterly bent out of shape. It simply doesn't work. This site is a good clearing house for articles on why Rohl doesn't work. The issue with fringe theories like this is that it's usually hard to find people willing to really hit them head on. At any rate, while an article on Heifetz would probably be appropriate, I still don't think we should be citing him in this article. He is not a legitimate source. john k 02:14, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Many vs. Most[edit]

I don't see why a "poll" is needed when you have yet to cite a single scholar who believes the Book of Esther is historical. The idea that it was ahistorical was already a commonplace a hundred years ago. As I'm sure you well know, support for the Bible's historicity has not improved in the last hundred years - or certainly in the last 20 years. So, unless you can cite any scholars, or any works of scholarship that believe that the Book of Esther is historical (and, no, Christian fundamentalist apologetics don't count), I don't see how you can dispute including "most". I already noted my JSTOR search, which turned up one guy from the seventies arguing that we can't rule out that the Book of Esther might be historical. john k 15:59, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

But I have cited several that Yamauchi mentions, its just that you don't accept them as scholars even though most/many :) would. Kuratowski's Ghost
You hadn't cited most of those when I wrote this (or, at least, I hadn't seen your response). I am willing to accept that some scholars impute some level of historicity to Esther, if . Could you point to an actual source, though, rather than just listing names? As I noted before, there was only one article on JSTOR, which is a good round-up of journal articles, and includes not-unfriendly-to-traditionalist journals like Biblical Archaeological Review among the journals covered, and that one article was both quite old, and quite tentative about suggesting historicity - as I noted before its main purpose was to demonstrate that we can't rule out that Esther might be historical, rather than to actually make the case that it was. Of the names you mention, I am not familiar with most, so just giving me surnames isn't very helpful. Kitchen, though, is not a terribly reliable source - he is an Egyptologist of the Third Intermediate Period. He is not a scholar of the Bible, of ancient Jewry, or of the Persian Empire. He is also an evangelical Christian. I see no reason to think his views on Esther should be treated as an expert view - they may very well be simply based on his religion, rather than on any scholarly criteria. Heifetz, as I noted before, is a deeply fringe figure. He should certainly not count as a scholar. I'm not terribly familiar with the rest, but, as I said, I'd be interested if you could cite actual bibliography, rather than just names.
I do wonder if there's any kind of divide on this among different types of scholars. The two relevant types of scholars in this case would be Biblical scholars, basing their analysis mostly on a textual analysis of Esther, and archaeologists/historians of ancient Persia, basing their analysis on the Persian evidence and texts. On some issues, I know there are divides of this sort - Biblical scholars tend to still believe in the relative historicity of the United Monarchy, while archaeologists tend to doubt it - or, at least, this is my understanding of the broader tendencies of the two movements. So, are there Biblical scholars who find the Book of Esther, on internal grounds, to be a historical work? And are there historians of ancient Persia who feel as though Esther is a useful source for learning more about Persian history? john k 06:41, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Ah, I've just discovered the source for the Yamauchi comments - I was confused for a bit, but found the link on the article. In the first place, these are a lot of out of context quotations. In the second place, the author is clearly disingenuous - he calls attacks on Esther's historicity "recent," when they were in fact already old a century ago (as demonstrated by the Britannica and Jewish Encyclopedia articles from 1911 and 1910, which accept the ahistoricity as a given). I will admit, though, that from that site, Yamauchi and Moore seem to be defending Esther's historicity, and that they both appear to be legitimate scholars.
On the other hand, Moore's on the face of it, the story seems to be true... Nothing in the book seems improbable, let alone unbelievable. is rather hard to believe. Nothing in the book seems improbable? If that is the case, why have scholars for two hundred years been discussing all the ways that they think the story of Esther is improbable? It's not improbable that the edicts of the Persian kings cannot be revoked? It's not improbable that Xerxes would allow the Jews to kill thousands of his subjects? It's not improbable that Xerxes made a Jewess his queen, when we know that Amestris, a Persian, was his queen throughout his reign? It's not improbable that Xerxes would decree the murder of an entire ethnic group without being told its name? Whether or not any of this is unbelievable, I do not know, but the idea that someone could blithely state that "Nothing in the book seems improbable" seems highly questionable to me...but I'm willing, for now, to allow some modification of the "most scholars" language that I added. But let's please not go back to "some readers." john k 06:41, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
This illustrates how subjective the whole thing is. You feel those things are improbable while there are others who don't. Look how many times even in recent history, leaders have allowed or even ordered massacres of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people. Kuratowski's Ghost 14:43, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
It's not so much that I find these things improbable and that others don't. It's that many people, over a couple of hundred years, have found these things improbable, and that Moore seems to feel that mere assertion dismisses this 200 year critical tradition. Moore and Yamauchi show that you are right, that there are scholars who support the idea that Esther is historical. As such, I am partially giving way to you. Nevertheless, I will suggest that I have yet to see any arguments as to why Esther should be seen as historical. I've seen arguments as to why we can't rule it out that it's based on an actual historical incident, and I'm willing to leave the possibility open. But there remains the fact that the story is, as scholars for the last two centuries have noted, full of improbabilities, and that there is no corroborating evidence whatsoever. The ultimate conclusion of this article, which aims to debunk the idea that the existence of a Persian official named Marduka proves Esther to be historical, seems appropriate to me. For the curious thing about the Book of Esther is that, although it has all the hallmarks of a romance, with its string of coincidences, its artfully told narrative, and its engaging characterisations, it can at no point be unequivocally faulted on historical grounds (which cannot, incidentally, be said in the least of the Greek Book of Esther). Much of its historical detail can in fact be substantiated, and the supposed errors it contains can be quite satisfactorily explained. On the other hand, its story-line is a string of improbable coincidences. Historians are compelled in such circumstances to trust their own judgment of the kind of literature that lies before them, in the absence of any specific data that settle the question one way or the other. Anyway, feel free to change it. I still do think that you need to provide some support for theories of other Persian kings than Xerxes as the right one. Most of the scholars under discussion seem to feel that Ahasuerus would be Xerxes. john k 15:50, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
The most compelling reason to consider that it is based on an historical event is the fact that it was regarded as such for over 2000 years whereas for example the book of Job was traditionally recognized as a fable. This of course does not mean that it is not written in a form primarily intended for entertainment or that it doesn't exaggerate claims, again Shakespeare's, Julius Caesar comes to mind. Kuratowski's Ghost 22:41, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Weren't Tobit and Judith regarded as historical, as well? Certainly the traditional Jewish idea of the history of the Persian period inspires no confidence in the rabbis' judgment of what is historical. The stories of the Roman monarchy were also widely regarded as historical. So was the patriarchal narrative. I'm not sure how the fact that people believed it to be historical is an argument for historicity in the absence of any other evidence. And as to Julius Caesar, as I noted before, the story contained in Shakespeare's play is far more plausible than the story contained in Esther. What about the story of Shakespeare's play is generally implausible in the same way as the accusations against Esther? But, anyway, this argument is no longer one about article content, but just about our differing ideas. Feel free to change the article to indicate that there's a sizeable number of scholars who apparently accept Esther as probably historical. john k 23:39, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't know of anything suggesting that Judaism ever considered Judith and Tobit to be history, they were definitely never considered "holy". But even with these books I would say that we cannot rule out some historical basis. Tobit is quite plausibly a fictional tale about a real historical figure. Judith is plausibly based on a tale ultimately having roots in history although its pretty clear that the author has deliberately chosen "false" names for any historical kings that might have been intended. Kuratowski's Ghost 11:48, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Judaism didn't considered Tobit and Judith to be holy, and may not have considered them to be history. But many Christians, I think, have considered them to be so. If we are talking only about Jewish tradition, I think the gruesome errors of the Seder Olam shows rather clearly that the traditional Jewish view is not to be taken on faith. Anyway, here's two better books that nobody any longer takes to be based on actual history - Jonah and Daniel. There most certainly are two thousand years of tradition that views Daniel as historical (not sure about Jonah). But Daniel is quite clearly not historical, and was quite clearly written in hellenistic times. We shouldn't simply dismiss traditions, but we shouldn't blindly follow them either. john k 16:12, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

BTW, I was just looking up information about the Seder Olam (I'm trying to figure out an article to write on it) and discovered a translation. This is what it has to say about Job:

It was said to our forefather Abraham at the Covenant Between the Pieces (Gen. 15:13): “You shall certainly know that your seed will be strangers in a foreign land for 400 years.” Who is the seed? That is Isaac, of whom it is said (Gen. 21:12): “Because Isaac will be called seed for you.” About Isaac it says (Gen. 25:26): “Isaac was 60 years of age when they were born.” Our forefather Jacob said to Pharaoh (Gen. 47:9): “The days of the years of my wandering are 130 years.” This makes together 190 years, this leaves 210 years, a sign for the lifetime of Job who was born at that time as it is said (Job 42:16): “Job lived thereafter 140 years” and it is said (Job 42:10): “The Eternal added double to all that Job had.” It turns out that Job was born when Israel descended into Egypt and he died when they left.

Seems to me that at least some of the Jewish traditions considered Job, also, to be a historical figure. john k 03:04, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

The book of Job was considered to be a fable about an historical person although there were different opinions on when he lived. Kuratowski's Ghost 16:12, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

Own article for Historicity debate[edit]

I feel that arguments regarding historicity should be moved to a new article Historicity of Esther or suchlike and the historical reading section in this article be cut down to basics. Any comments? Kuratowski's Ghost 11:07, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I was actually going to suggest that the Heifetz Revision get an article of its own, but perhaps a general article on the Historicity of the Book of Esther, with a section on the Heifetz Revision, would be more appropriate. Lisa Liel 14:49, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Trivia statement[edit]

I was browsing the King James Version of the Bible when I noticed that there were three instances of the emoticon ;) in the Book of Esther. The contexts were "(for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgement: and the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom ;)", "(for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours and with other things for the purifying of the women ;)", and "(though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them ;)". Starhood` 15:44, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Esther and Mordechi Tomb[edit]

I visited this Tomb which is located in the center of the city of Hamadan. Hamadan is in western part of Iran. The Place which is known as Esther and Mordechi Tomb has been one of the places that Iranian jews has known it for hundreds of years and a place where people go for pilgrimage. I try to upload the image of the tomb itsel. Masoud Sadighpour

Spoilers[edit]

I really dont think a bible book article needs a "plot spoilers" disclaimer. seriously. 124.189.230.181 06:34, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Why not? A current TV show should get a obviously get a Spoiler warning what about a book a few decades old. What about Pride and Prejudice that is almost 200 years old. Or King Lear that is almost 400. Where do you draw the line! Frankly I think the whole idea of spoiler warnings are stupid (I use .spoiler { display: none; } in my CSS sheet to hide it) but I don't see why one cannot "seriously" put spoiler warnings here. Jon513 15:43, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Because that would imply that it is fiction, which would violate NPOV. Should one put a spoiler on World War II because one may not know how it ended? No. Smartyllama 19:02, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
There aren't any spoiler warnings at Pride and Prejudice or King Lear. And Esther is pretty clearly at least as fictional as the works of Sir Walter Scott, say. john k (talk) 21:44, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Smartyllama makes a valid point putting spoiler warning implies that it is fiction which is clearly biased. In any event all this is moot as spoilers were depreciated. Jon513 (talk) 23:58, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Anachronism[edit]

In the "Interpretation of Esther" section, the practice of baking hamantashn is cited as indicative of Babylonian mythical influence. Since hamantashn are European pastries of Medieval origin at the very latest, I suggest the removal of that line. Flourdustedhazzn 17:44, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

if you read down, you'll see it says that that statement is flawed. Smartyshoe 18:36, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

"Title" section[edit]

This section appears to present the view of a single author. The view itself, that the title "Esther" is appropriate, is not particularly illuminating. I propose deleting the entire section as not notable.--agr (talk) 13:39, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

'Despricy'[edit]

"falling upon her in despricy". What does 'despricy' mean? Or what word is it meant to be? IanHH (talk) 07:14, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Desperation. - Lisa (talk - contribs) 20:36, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Esther as an Orphan[edit]

This article states that Esther was orphaned as a young girl. Do we have any source for this?Fontwords (talk) 19:33, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

I modified the wording and sourced it. Carl.bunderson (talk) 03:00, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

All young women[edit]

The article's plot summary states that the king called for 'all young women' to be brought before him. Would it be more accurate to state that the king wanted 'all young virgins' to be brought before him? The translations of Esther I have read refer to virgins, and even if this translation is questioned, there is no evidence that married young women were being taken from their husbands to the king. Fontwords (talk) 19:42, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

I changed it to virgins and provided a source. Carl.bunderson (talk) 03:00, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Mordecai or Kish?[edit]

In the section "debate over historicity", a 'strong' argument is given, quoting Esther 2 showing that Mordecai was carried away from Jerusalem by the Babylonians. However, when the verses read including the omitted words, the text reads:

Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

This can be understood in two ways, I think, because it could also mean that Kish, the great-grandfather of Mordecai was actually carried away by Nebuchadnezzar. This makes the argument completely void, and it fits the timeline very well. So while both readings may be grammatically possible, the argument seems far from convincing to me and I think it should be removed or at least the counter-argument should be included. Can anyone comment on this? Lindert (talk) 10:19, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

most of this article is tendentious rambling without even the appearance of honouring WP:CITE. I suggest we ruthlessly blank all unreferenced content and start over with a stub. It is better to have a well-referenced stub than a lengthy personal essay. --dab (𒁳) 12:35, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree, but I think we need to merge Esther into this article also. Dougweller (talk) 14:51, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

So can we delete or flag that paragraph? Is it reflecting a real scholarly debate? At the very least, the point brought up in this thread should be mentioned in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.228.62.212 (talk) 04:38, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Gilgamesh reference?[edit]

In the section "Esther and Babylonian Mythology" a bullet point states "In the story - Esther relates reading about Gilgamesh and the Babylonian. Marduka (see Mordechai below) was known as the Babylonian.The Epic Of Gilgamesh references Ishtar." I'm not seeing this anywhere in the Book of Esther and a search using BibleGateway shows no references to Gilgamesh. I'm deleting that bullet.

67.186.133.11 (talk) justkevin —Preceding undated comment added 18:58, 22 August 2010 (UTC).

Lede[edit]

The lede should be expanded to summarize contents.ANE.Scholar (talk) 14:05, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Use of BCE[edit]

As a Christian, I find the use of the term BCE to be very offensive. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 174.52.138.21 (talk) 16:20, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia is ruled by the community. The community agrees that in certain articles is is better to use BCE than BC. In simple words, a majority of people would disagree with you and is more worried about the opposite sensibilities. Debresser (talk) 20:33, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
As a Christian, I find your superstitious hatred of BCE very offensive. If what you read offends you, stab your eyes out. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:39, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
As a Christian, I find the use of BCE to be respectful to our Jewish brothers and sisters who certainly have reason to be miffed when we refer to their history in terms of a Christ they don't believe in. Aristophanes68 (talk) 04:48, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Gallows/hanged etc.[edit]

I changed this to offer an alternative -- hanged or maybe impaled or maybe something else. I don't have the time right now to stick in formal references, but I put in enough information that somebody with a copy of Herodotus and of Wanderings can fill in the details. Bgoldnyxnet (talk) 02:12, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Identifying Ahasuerus[edit]

The Setting section explains that Ahasuerus is "usually" identified as Xerxes I, but fails to explain clearly who subscribes to this view and how widespread this consensus is, neither is there any source for this assertion at all. Is it virtually all scholars? What is the rationale for them concluding this? Are there any references?

There is in fact more information on those with the "minority" view that Ahasuerus is in fact Artaxerxes (or Artaxerxes II). This has left me confused as an admittedly uninformed reader. AnotherNewAccount (talk) 19:41, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Ahasuerus#Book of Esther explains that this (Xerxes I) was the view of 19th century scholars. Is this view of modern scholars also? AnotherNewAccount (talk) 20:12, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
I have some sources that can be useful (I apologize for my poor English). The linguistic evidence seems to be the most convincing:
"Ahasuerus is merely a Hebrew form ... of the Persian name which the Greeks heard as Xerxes" (Albert I. Baumgarten, S. David Sperling, and Shalom Sabar, in Fred Skolnik and Michael Berenbaum (eds.), Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed, vol. 18, Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007, p. 216)
"Ahasuerus is normally identified as Xerxes I" (Sidnie White Crawford, "Esther", Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe (eds.), Women’s Bible Commentary, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998, p. 202)
"the decipherment early in this century of trilingual inscriptions found on Persian monuments has made it almost certain that Ahasuerus ... can be identified with Xerxes (this is a Greek name corresponding to the Persian name Khshayarsha). Most of the statements made about Ahasuerus in Esther fit the events of Xerxes' reign ... and do not fit those of any other Persian monarch. Even his character agrees with the portrayal of him by Herodotus and other classical historians." (Katrina J. A. Larkin, Ruth and Esther (Old Testament Guides), Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996, p. 71)
"the only indisputable historical figure in the story is King Xerxes, much that the author says about Xerxes seems to be quite compatible with what we know of him from other literary and archaeological sources." (Carey A. Moore, Esther (Anchor Bible), Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971, p. XXXV)
It should be noted, however, the identification of Ahasuerus with Xerxes I doesn't necessarily mean that Xerxes I was the model for Ahasuerus's character. ראובן מ. (talk) 20:53, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Historical sources such as Flavius Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews Book 11 or XI identify Artaxerxes son of Xerxes in the Book of Esther, "After the death of Xerxes, the kingdom came to be transferred to his son Cyrus, whom the Greeks called Artaxerxes." I don't know any modern scholarship that even suggest Josephus's works in this particular debate. Antiquities of the Jews is very detailed about the historical events on kings and rulers etc. I highly recommend reading book 10 and 11. — JudeccaXIII (talk) 22:42, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! I shall check out all those sources and see if I can improve the article accordingly in due course. AnotherNewAccount (talk) 10:57, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Section rewritten[edit]

Removed most of the references to Artaxerxes - I believe they would be better discussed later in the article - maybe in the Historical reading section. I'm putting the the old section below so I don't forget the content I wish to relocate:

Setting

Setting[edit]

The biblical Book of Esther is set in the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus, a king of Persia. The name, Ahasuerus is equivalent to Xerxes, (both deriving from the Persian, Khshayārsha) and thus Ahasuerus is usually identified[by whom?] as Xerxes I (486–465 BCE)[citation needed] - although Ahasuerus is identified as Artaxerxes in the later Septuagint version of Esther - as well as by Josephus, the Jewish commentary Esther Rabbah, the Ethiopic translation, and by the Christian theologian Bar-Hebraeus, who identified him more precisely as Artaxerxes II. (E A W Budge, The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, Gorgias Press LLC, reprinted 2003)

I note that the Ethiopic translation is basically just a straight translation of the Septuagint, so there is no need to include it as a seperate example.

It's well known that Xerxes I ruled between 486 and 465 BCE, and Artaxerxes II between 404 and 359 or 358 BCE, but in both their respective articles these claims are unsourced: some suitably scholarly references would be very helpful. Thankyou all! AnotherNewAccount (talk) 17:32, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

It was very easy to find a source for Xerxes' reign: virtually everyone who mentions him gives these dates, and I just cited the first one I've found. As for Artaxerxes II, I guess one can find that information on the internet. ראובן מ. (talk) 19:21, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Summary[edit]

I've observed reading this more closely that this section isn't particularly well written. The wording is somewhat awkward in places and it doesn't flow particularly well, despite some changes I made recently to try and improve things. The prose verges on the rambling, with little salience. There is also a lack of sources other than the text itself.

The article History indicates that this text was pasted from the Purim article way back in 2008. Prior to that, the summary was concise and to-the-point, though this may have lacked important information.

I see three options for improving this section:

  • Attempt to improve the current incarnation, improving the prose and removing unnecessary information.
  • Paste the current incarnation from the Purim article, and improve from there. The current prose is better written, though perhaps overly long and excessively detailed.
  • Return to the pre-2008 prose, and try to improve from there, adding key information as necessary.

Interested to see what other editors think. AnotherNewAccount (talk) 22:08, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

As a rule I think we should prefer working with the present text. It is not respectful to all the editors who worked on the text for the last 7 years to mass-revert all their efforts. I did like the idea of the timeline that was present in the 2008 version. Debresser (talk) 10:10, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

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Catholic View of the Additions[edit]

While modern Roman Catholic scholars openly recognize the Greek additions as clearly being additions to the text,[1]

This is what the original section said. It references to an evangelical church's website. While the information potentially could be true, it is not a Catholic scholar saying that they "recognize the Greek additions as clearly being additions to the text", it is a church (which argued against the Catholic view of the canon on the same article [again, not necessarily wrong, but-->]), and if you are wanting to present a view that "modern Roman Catholic scholars openly recognize", I would think you could find an actual source from a modern Roman Catholic scholar saying this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gideon.judges7 (talkcontribs) 19:04, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

References

Historical novella?[edit]

I have reverted a change that presented Michael Coogan's view as fact. Coogan suggests that Esther is a "historical novella". User:PiCo, you say its "genre as historical fiction is well established" - do you have evidence for that? The article cites Adele Berlin who discusses this very issue, and notes that scholars such as Carey Moore and Michael V. Fox reject the idea: "while Moore himself does not think Esther is true, he is arguing here that the ancient reader did". StAnselm (talk) 18:33, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

Even if there are academic opinions that the Book of Esther is a historic novella, that is definitely not what most of the world knows it for. Debresser (talk) 21:03, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
What the ancient reader did, is all speculation. I see no reason to attribute much value to academic speculation, unless it is clearly represented as such. Debresser (talk) 21:04, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
StAnselm, you're allowing your personal view of the bible as an inerrant document to colour your views here. The way to avoid this is to follow Wiki guidelines on the use of sources. First, we have a reliable source, Coogan, saying that Esther is a historical novella. Without other evidence, we accept that. You give us Carey Moore - but according to Berlin, Moore agrees that Esther is fiction. I have no idea what Fox says, but you seem to lack an ability to read your sources objectively. (By the way, it wasn't me who put the Coogan material in here - I've hardly edited this article.)PiCo (talk) 05:27, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
What do you mean, you don't know what Fox says? Didn't you read the article I linked to? According to Berlin, he says "[T]o read Esther as fictional, while a legitimate critical stance, runs contrary to the intentions of the author, who almost certainly meant us to read the book as a precise report of actual historical events." And no, Moore is not saying Esther is fiction, because that would mean it isn't written as history. And scholars are divided as to the intention of the author(s). StAnselm (talk) 06:29, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
So Fox says it's legitimate to read Esther as fictional? And he meant us to read it as history? I have to say I'm at a loss - Fox is saying that the author of Esther set out to create a fiction that would taken as real history. I'm not sure I'd go so far myself.PiCo (talk) 08:39, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
So we're agreed then, the Book of Esther is fiction?PiCo (talk) 22:33, 2 March 2016 (UTC)
No, we're not. Quite apart from the question of generic labels, it's inappropriate to make a judgement about historicity in wiki-voice. The most we can say would be (as Berlin says, for example), "Very few twentieth-century Bible scholars believed in the historicity of the book of Esther." StAnselm (talk) 23:00, 2 March 2016 (UTC)
Indeed, "debates about the historicity of Esther continue to this day." StAnselm (talk) 23:05, 2 March 2016 (UTC)
Don't know what academics claim, and why they think they know better than Jewish tradition, but Jewish tradition for sure doesn't consider the Book of Esther as fiction. Debresser (talk) 14:54, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
Jewish tradition deserves a mention. Anselm, I'd be happy with ""Very few" etc if it's sourced. PiCo (talk) 21:28, 4 March 2016 (UTC)

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