Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther
Achaemenid Court Culture in the Hebrew Bible
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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of Pages: 280
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm
A Spectator 2023 Book of the Year Esther is the most visual book of the Hebrew Bible and was largely crafted in the Fourth Century BCE by an author who was clearly au fait with the rarefied world of the Achaemenid court. It therefore provides an unusual melange of information which can enlighten scholars of Ancient Iranian Studies whilst offering Biblical scholars access into the Persian world from which the text emerged. In this book, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones unlocks the text of Esther by reading it against the rich iconographic world of ancient Persia and of the Near East. Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther is a cultural and iconographic exploration of an important, but often undervalued, biblical book, and Llewellyn-Jones presents the book of Esther as a rich source for the study of life and thought in the Persian Empire. The author reveals answers to important questions, such as the role of the King’s courtiers in influencing policy, the way concubines at court were recruited, the structure of the harem in shifting the power of royal women, the function of feasting and drinking in the articulation of courtly power, and the meaning of gift-giving and patronage at the Achaemenid court.
Biblical scholars know that the Persian context is relevant and significant for understanding the rich narrative of Esther, but most are not trained in the art and archaeology of the Achaemenid world. Llewellyn-Jones, who is so well at home in the Persian cultural context, makes a major contribution to scholarship on Esther, and to the Persian period in biblical studies more generally, with this book. This is indispensable for anyone working on Esther. * Aaron Koller, Yeshiva University, USA * In this accessible and well-illustrated volume, Llewellyn-Jones explores and unpacks the distinctively Persian setting of the Esther narrative. With a particular focus on the early chapters, he provides a detailed cultural and iconographic companion to the biblical book of Esther, one which helpfully illuminates for historians and biblical scholars alike the broader Achaemenid context of the narrative. * Matthew A. Collins, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism, University of Chester, UK * Lloyd Llewellyn Jones uses his profound knowledge of ancient Persian culture to shine new light on the book of Esther, highlighting the rich iconography of the Persian court that flavours the Judaeo-Christian text, and setting the Biblical story within the context of the region to provide deeper understanding of this fascinating book. * Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, Israel *