Essays in Honour of Dr. Norman H. Young
Edited By Kayle B. de Waal and Robert K. McIver
Finding Christ in a Godless Text: The Book of Esther and Christian Typology
LAURENCE A. TURNER
The Hebrew text of Esther makes no explicit reference to the God of Israel, nor indeed to any of the gods of the Persian Empire. Also absent is any mention of religious practices such as prayer, circumcision or Sabbath observance, even when, in some instances, they would seem easier to include than to exclude. For example, in Esther fasting is not accompanied by prayer as it habitually is elsewhere in the Old Testament (e.g. Neh 1:4; Ps 35:14), nor with any expressly stated intention of interceding with God.1 Such features have troubled many readers who have pondered the book’s place in the biblical canon.2 Arising in part from such concerns, Esther’s godless text has been accommodated to a theistic reading by the use of many strategies.3
My particular focus here is to investigate how Christian interpreters have read the text from an avowedly typological perspective so as to enable an explicitly theistic, or even specifically Christological, reading of Esther. It is a pleasure to offer this study to honour my friend and former colleague Norman Young, with whom I have had many stimulating conversations over the years on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.
The following definition of typology sets out the classic position.
In typology the interpreter finds a correspondence in one or more respects between a person, event, or thing in the Old Testament and a person,...
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