This thesis explores issues of moral character found in the books of Esther. While the
Hebrew Esther story has been the focus of much past and present readerly attention in light
of such issues, the two primary Greek versions (LXX and Alpha-Text), treated as whole
narratives, have not been so privileged
Part I is a single chapter which approximates and anticipates the present study as it
suggests the two commonest approaches to perceived moral problems in the story of Esther:
avoidance and transformation. It then proceeds to outline the contexts in which the content
of the thesis is located: a delimitation and brief description of the Esther texts to be studied
(MT, LXX, AT); the versification scheme followed in the study of each version; an
explanation of procedure; an explanation of our approach to the Esther texts, which seeks to
investigate each narrative in its entirety and in its own context; an explanation of the
selection of relevant portions of text in our study; the task of describing moral character; an
anticipation of the assessment of moral character in the books of Esther.
Part II contains the work of elucidation and evaluation, and begins in chapter two with an
exploration of moral character in the MT Esther story. We proceed exegetically through
selected portions of the Hebrew narrative as we investigate issues of morality involving
major characters in the story - Vashti, Esther, Mordecai, Haman, the Jews, and the king
(C0i~na;nx). As in the following two chapters, the relevance and profit of each section
surfaces via our exegetical labours.
Chapter three continues in the exegetical mode as we approach issues of moral character
in the Greek text found in the Septuagint (LXX). Selected narrative portions involving major
characters in the LXX Esther story - Astin, Esther, Mardochaios, Aman, the Jews, and the
king (Apta^6p^r|c;) - provide the specific contexts for our moral probing. The portions of
text selected, however, are not necessarily parallel to those chosen in the Hebrew story.
Because LXX Esther tells a differing and expanded story, the nature of our inquiry must
adjust and its scope must broaden.
Chapter four brings Part II and our in-depth scrutiny of the three primary texts of Esther
to a close. Our attention now focuses on issues of moral character in the Alpha-Text of
Esther (AT). Once again, relevant narrative potions for moral inquiry are chosen which
involve major characters - Ouastm, Esther, Mardochaios, Aman, the Jews, and the king
(Aoaoijpoc). These portions of text do not necessarily overlap those selected in the previous
two chapters - the context of the AT is its own and presents different and new narrative
Part III is a single chapter (five) which contains our extrapolations and adumbrations.
Herein, we begin assessing the moral character we have encountered in our study of the three
primary Esther versions. The exegetical work in chapters two through four lays a foundation
upon which our moral inquiries vis-a-vis major characters inform our suppositions
concerning the overall moral character of each story. In the midst of summarising our
findings, we suggest that issues of morality in the books of Esther are best approached as one
recognises and comes to terms with moral ambiguity found in all three versions and the ways
in which moral character in the Greek stories has been transformed. A concluding section
brings both the efforts of assessment and the thesis to a close.