The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Esther as a “Calendrical Novel”

The lecture explores the literary aspects of the Book(s) of Esther, related to time and calendricity. The analysis of the Masoretic and Greek `Alpha` texts allows to suggest a `calendrical plot` behind each of the versions. Calendrical and astronomical symbolism is used throughout the narrative, and influences several aspects of Esther`s creation that otherwise remain obscure - for instance, the names of the protagonists, the connection to Pesah and to Purim, the excessive use of dates and a number of motifs that might seem senseless. If, indeed, calendric `keys` to Esther are to be credited, it also paves the way for the book`s(s`) inclusion in a larger intertexual discource, involving several calendar-related narrative ouevres of approximately Hellenistic era (e. g. Judith, Tobith, Aseneth, 2Enoch et al.). It is suggested that all those books use calendars as vehicles for conveying gender and identity issues in a multivocal perspective, which thus permits to see in them the oriental embodiment of the new `novelistic` world-view that Mikhail Bakhtin sought in Plato`s dialogues, Hellenistic adventure romances and later Roman neo-cynic satyres.