Reid, Debra, Esther: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 13; Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), pp. 168. £8.99/$16.00. ISBN 978-1-84474-244-8 (UK), ISBN 978-0-8308-4213-1 (USA).
Reid’s book is a new commentary on Esther in the TOTC series, longer than the precedent one written by Joyce G. Baldwin in 1984. As one expects, the first part of the commentary refers to introductory matters, such as the nature of the book, origin and date, historical background and setting, canonical status, literary and textual issues, and theology and purpose (pp. 19-55), but only after a list of selective bibliography is offered (pp. 11-15). A commentary based on the NIV paragraph by paragraph follows, and the plot is unveiled along with it. No personal rendering of the Hebrew text is given, but the additions of the Greek Bible are included at the end of the book. Balanced feminist comments are also included.
Reid spells out repeatedly her dissatisfaction in reading the book just as a story. Most likely due to this perception, Reid seems reluctant to decide on a literary genre the book fits in. She is more inclined to see in it a fictitious narrative. The suggested book structure as a chiastic arrangement of theses and antitheses (p. 36) can be improved by replacing the “thesis/antithesis” categories with more neutral terms (e.g. “movements”) that do justice to what they describe (actions of the characters involved in the plot). Since exaggerations and repetitions are common in classical Hebrew literature, only statistics could have proved that their use in Esther makes the book a “unique piece of literature” (p. 41).
Reid is successfully offering here an integrated reading of Esther’s story without delving into in-depth scholarly debates, but preserving a good sense of accuracy in interpretation.