Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Religion, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Tammi J. Schneider

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Joshua Goode

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gary Gilbert

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© 2024 Nolan Lebovitz


Hebrew Bible, National identity, Greek drama, Hasmonean ideology, Genocide

Subject Categories



The Book of Esther maintains many enigmatic qualities when compared against the other books within the canon of the Hebrew Bible. These unique characteristics stretch through its characters, its developed literary style, and the ideology it espouses. Academics often address individual issues in isolation such as its various scriptural forms in Greek and Hebrew, its absence from Qumran, and the many factors considered in its authorship and dating. Scholarly consideration for the book’s authorship spans from the 5 th Century through the 2nd Century BCE. This period in question saw a transition between the Persian Period to the Hellenistic Period, which includes the rise of the Hasmonean Dynasty. It covers a political shift from Israelite diaspora away from Judah to the reality of diaspora as well as establishment of a unified Maccabean Kingdom in Judah. Lastly, there is an identity shift away from a tribal group called Judeans tied to an allotment of land toward a new definition of religious, cultural, national identity called Jews. Most of these transitions crystalize toward the end of the era. Amidst the background of all this confusion, the Book of Esther emerges. It is narrative that employs opposites, reversals, royal pomp, and internal struggle. It is largely considered a satirical comedy that addresses genocide. It portrays a traditional patriarchal society and focuses on a female hero. The book utilizes a three-act structure with each chapter able to stand on its own beginning, middle, and end. There are examples of such narratives that include many of these tropes, yet they are not found in the Hebrew Bible. They are found in ancient Greek drama. This dissertation sets out to reveal that the Book of Esther is a Greek drama written by a pro-Maccabean author to exhibit the values of the Hasmonean ideology. One can find footnotes in academic research on Esther alluding to the Maccabees. One can consider the exchange of culture between Greek and Jewish societies after the 4th Century BCE. Never before has the Book of Esther been studied within these perspectives. The method employed will be to compare Esther to the structure, character development and linguistic strategies used in Greek Drama and Comedy of its Hellenistic Period. Then, Esther will be proven to fit within the Hasmonean ideology through history, texts, literary markers, and archeological findings. Finally, other biblical texts and apocryphal texts of the same period will be considered as well. In the end, this paper will clarify the purpose of Esther by finally revealing the overlap between its Jewish political and Greek artistic heritage. One cannot study the entirety of the Hebrew Bible without questioning Esther’s purpose and inclusion toward its end. In this research, Esther’s role will be explained. It is a book embroiled in drama, eternally relevant and controversial. It is a role that she intended for herself.



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