Esther (Biblical book)

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The Book of Esther is an historical account in the Bible, which is about 10 chapters long (about 181 verses) in the Hebrew Bible, and 16 chapters long and more complete in the Septuagint, the Old Testament of the ancient Christian Church, and in the Vulgate, the Catholic Bible.[1] The complete Book of Esther is accepted as inspired and canonical by the Orthodox Church in the Greek Orthodox Bible, and is found in the books of the Old Testament of the Vulgate and included in the canon of inspired scripture by the Third Council of Carthage (397). Since the Council of Trent the complete Book of Esther with all of its parts is dogmatically accepted as inspired and canonical by the Catholic Church in the Catholic Bible—books of the Bible accepted as divinely inspired by the majority of Christian believers in the United States.[2]

The Hebrew Book of Esther is unusual in never mentioning the name of God; instead, the book conveys insights on topics of "knowledge, wisdom, holiness, and love."[3] Written in the third or second century B.C., the shorter Hebrew version of the Book of Esther is read aloud at the Jewish celebration of Purim.[4] The authorship of the Book of Esther is unknown.[5] It was evidently written after the death of Ahasuerus (the Xerxes of the Greeks), which took place 465 B.C..[5] The minute and particular account also given of many historical details makes it probable that the writer was contemporary with Mordecai and Esther.[5] Hence we may conclude that the book was written probably about 444-434 B.C., and that the author was one of the Jews of the dispersion.[5] The prayers of Mordecai and Esther which the Hebrew writer omitted were included by the rabbinical Greek translators of the Septuagint, which was the Bible of the Greek-speaking Jews of the Dispersion, and the original scriptures read by the apostles.

This book is more purely historical than any other book of Scripture, except the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees which were removed from the Protestant Bible; and in the shorter Hebrew version it has this remarkable peculiarity that the name of God does not occur in it from first to last in any form.[5] It has, however, been well observed that, though the name of God be not in it, the book wonderfully exhibits the providential government of God.[5] This fact may have finally persuaded rabbinical authorities in the 2nd century to continue to grant it a place in the Hebrew canon along with the Book of Ruth, the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. However, the actual historicity of a "Council of Jabneh/Jamnia/Yavneh" is debated. See Council of Jamnia?

Six chapters of Esther (10:4—16:24), which Jerome moved out of sequence and placed at the end of the book of Esther in his Latin Vulgate translation, were first removed entirely from the Old Testament and placed in the Apocrypha by Martin Luther in the 16th century. This effectively removed from the canon of the Protestant Bible all of the prayers in the Book of Esther and every mention of God.

See Apocrypha.

References

  1. [1]
  2. The Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian body comprised of several distinct "Rites". The Catholic Church (Latin Rite) is the largest religious body in the United States, with over 60 million adherents (4 times as large as the second largest church, the Orthodox).
    “The Global Catholic Population,” © 2011, Pew Research Center.
    The Largest Catholic Communities
    The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church, and also referred to as the Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy, is the second largest Christian church in the world, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, most of whom live in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia.
    The Greek (Eastern) Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Of America (1983). Retrieved on 7 May 2014.
    Christianity:Basics:Eastern Orthodox Church Denomination. about.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
    Christianity. Major Branches of Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents. adherents.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  3. http://www.trivia-library.com/a/bible-numbers-and-statistics.htm
  4. http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htm
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Easton's Bible Dictionary, article on Esther originally published in 1897.
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