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Taming a Troubling Book
Rewriting Esther in Antiquity

Aaron Koller

Jewish History, Sacred Text & Thought

For a lot of reasons, the book of Esther challenged many of its early readers, unwilling to accept a Jewish heroine who lived “happily ever after” intermarried in the palace of a foreign king. One of the more interesting ways in which Jews dealt with the “problem” of Esther was solved was to write new stories, modeled on Esther but without its flaws. We will look at two stories, one from the Dead Sea Scrolls and one from rabbinic literature, which seem to be modeled on Esther, and these will allow us to think about the political power of these narratives, and all narratives.

Aaron Koller

Aaron Koller is an assistant professor at Yeshiva University. He researches and writes about life in the ancient Near East, including ancient Israel, and early Judaism. His interests include intellectual and social history in the biblical and rabbinic periods, especially issues related to language and linguistics. His doctorate (YU, 2009) was about the archaeology of everyday life in ancient Israel. He also teaches adult education classes at the Drisha Institute and for the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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