Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pondering direction with Esther

I have read the Anchor Bible Commentary by Carey Moore on Esther. It is well written c 1971. Esther itself seems to me to cry out for an analogical interpretation - perhaps something along the axis of tension between flesh and spirit and the relationship between male and female. This draws me into theological reflection more than translation. Combined with these topics, I sense and see a focus on words whose roots reduce to praise. Chapter 9 is filled with that word that reduces to praise. (You can see this in the graph on the left.) Should we note that those who are the praise of God should be able to defend themselves? Can they then destroy those who attack - by the only means of destruction available to them - by the love that constrains and leads to the gentlest of deaths, the death already accomplished for us at the mercy seat. I am reminded of Romans 2:29 - maybe some Greek fiend will translate this one for me on the hidden circumcision of the heart.

To follow Esther, I am hoping to use a graphic analysis of the text before I do any translation. I.e. I want to see the shape and hear the sound before turning the story into words I recognize instantly. The graph on the right is hard to read but interesting: According to my root algorithm, there are 127 roots used only once, 60 differing roots are used twice. And by sheer coincidence, there is one root (MLK) used 127 times. So this is a book about royalty. (My results says there are 7 roots used 7 times - a very curious coincidence also - and may or not be 'significant' words. Click on small diagram to see.)  All this sort of information is irrelevant and unknown to us as we hear the story, whether we are irritated by it or not.

I already know I am going to be biased if I read this book analogically - as a continuation of the battle between Saul and Agag (1 Samuel 15:9). I will likely refuse the bias of the irritated overhearing breakfast eater of 33 years ago. If you know who you are, please say hello!

I will also likely refuse an interpretation that privileges Jew over Gentile. Not all Gentiles are macho drinkers. Not all Jews are worthy of praise. But does this book perhaps say that the covenant that gives rise to praise is worthy of defense?