Dr. Meredith Stone analyzes Esther in her new book
(Abilene, TX)–Dr. Meredith Stone, Assistant Professor of Scripture and Ministry, published a book a few months ago focused on the book of Esther entitled Empire and Gender in LXX Esther. The book was published by Society of Biblical Literature Press, as a part of their “Early Judaism and Its Literature” series.
In the book, Stone focuses on the book of Esther as well as the six additions from the Septuagint (or LXX), which is the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament. Like anything with several versions, certain writings from the Septuagint can be quite different than that of the modern-day Bible. Stone felt it was important to take all writings of Esther into account when studying it, to get a more accurate feel of what people were reading and experiencing at that time.
Empire and Gender in LXX Esther was written “through the lenses of how the book is presenting the exertion of imperial and state power,” said Stone. How power was being exerted and negotiated, as shown in Esther, is something Stone wanted to examine in this book. “I examined [Esther] using an imperial-critical approach,” said Stone. Another aspect within this is gender: “I wanted to pay attention to how gender is a part of that exertion and negotiation of power in the book,” said Stone. She considered specifically how gender affected one’s identity living under a powerful empire in the time Esther was written. Studying and trying to analyze what the whole book communicated to the people that were reading at the time is another aspect of Stone’s writing.
She took a course during her Ph.D. work over some of the writings in the Old Testament, which was a big inspiration for her. “I had been encountering in courses this idea of imperial power,” said Stone. Stone’s dissertation for her Ph.D. revolved around this topic and after it was finished she was encouraged to adapt it into a book. The writing process was long, but the book was finally published in November of 2018.
Stone chose to focus on the book of Esther because she had an aunt of the same name, and the book became special to her. “Aunt Esther taught us about the book of Esther…I always had a connection with the book,” said Stone.
Stone’s goal for the book was to add to the way people read Esther, as a whole. “My hope was it could contribute to the way scholars, graduate students, pastors, and educated readers see things in the book that have been overlooked,” said Stone. “Hopefully it will contribute to the way people read Esther.” Stone said her book is special to her because it is her first, and “it represents being able to contribute to the scholarly work of the biblical text.”
Empire and Gender in LXX Esther is available here.