Apocrypha: Old Greek Esther

Likely compiled in the 2nd century BC, this is an expanded version of the Hebrew book of Esther found  in the Old Testament.  A total of 107 verses were added to the Hebrew version, most likely in an attempt to make it more theologically acceptable.  It  isn’t that the Hebrew Esther is not acceptable, but it  is curious with it’s lack of any direct mention of God.  Events are described almost entirely in terms of human efforts, though of course the clear understanding and context is that these efforts are carried out within an overall creation sustained and governed by God himself.  But Old Greek Esther attempts to make these links explicit, sprinkling prayers and other references directly to God throughout the work.

This work is understood by most  to  not be authentic nor appropriately referred to as canonical.  The King James Bible included the Greek additions as an appendix to the nine canonical Hebrew chapters of  the book of Esther.  These additions were never originally written in Hebrew, occasionally contradict the details of the canonical chapters.  In actuality, there are several versions of these Greek additions to the book of Esther, falling into two major categories.  Historians are unsure of the relationship – if any  – to these varying versions of the Greek additions.  Finally, references to Macedonians in the Greek additions reflect a later date of composition than the original Hebrew chapters,  reflecting a historical period in which Macedonians played  a larger role in Persian affairs.

The additions don’t add anything beneficial, in my estimation, but rather bog down a rather tightly wound story with unnecessary elaboration and  lengthy prayers.  I have no doubt there were many prayers offered by Mordecai and Esther which the author  of the Hebrew book either was unaware of or felt unnecessary to include.  Trying to make explicit the theology in which these people lived and breathed more often than not makes the overall work clumsier.

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