Cart Log In
SBL Press Bookstore
The Redaction of the Books of Esther: On Reading Composite Texts
Michael V. Fox
Publication Date
January 1997


“My goal is to advance our understanding of the redactional process in general by studying the development of two particular representatives of the Esther tradition, the AT and the MT—the two “books” of Esther mentioned in the title of this monograph. For both I begin with source criticism to identify the material the redactors worked with, but since this study aims not at reconstructing sources but at describing the redactors’ work, I subsume both steps of literary-historical analysis under redaction criticism.

This book proceeds from a minute examination of two particular redactions to a broad consideration of some fundamental questions about redaction criticism and the reader. … The first chapter examines the redaction that produced the present form of the AT, seeking to determine its scope, methods, attitudes, and purposes. This examination will show us—with some certainty, I believe—what one redactor did, and so provide an ‘empirical model’ by which other biblical texts might be tested. …MT-Esther’s redaction history is the subject of the second study. Here the conclusions cannot claim an equally ‘empirical’ status, but they do have a more secure basis than most biblical redaction studies, insofar as the conclusions of the first chapter provide an idea of the scope and shape of the material that the MT redactor (R–MT) drew upon. He too fashioned quite a different book with new ideas and goals. … This chapter [ch. 3] describes and compares the texts that resulted from these redactions, the latest forms they attained within their respective traditions. … Next I inquire into the practical implications of the above studies, considering the ways in which they provide a model for redactional studies. … In conclusion, I offer some thoughts about a literary approach to redaction.”
—from the introduction

“Michael Fox’s excellent monograph is an exemplary redaction critical study of several witnesses to the book of Esther.… In addition, the book as a whole provides an excellent model for any who are interested in redaction criticism of the Hebrew Bible in general.”
—Sidnie Ann White, Journal of Biblical Literature