Does the book of Esther mention God at all? Depends on the version you read.

In my Ph.D. seminar last week we began talking about the theology of the book of Esther. It seems odd to speak of the theology of a book that doesn’t mention the name of God. However, there are some manuscripts of the Old Greek versions of Esther which do mention God in the book. They are found in the additions referred to as texts C, D, and the Alpha Text. In Esther C verse 8 (an addition made after the Masoretic Text [MT] 4:17) Esther appeals to God to act on behalf of the people of Abraham (see the picture above). In addition D verse 8, which occurs right after C, God changes the heart of the king. Both of these references to God are mentioned in the Alpha Text. So, some manuscripts contain a reference to God in the book of Esther. For more information and a side-by-side comparison of these texts in English go here.

There are two questions that come up for me again and again in relation to these “additions”:

  1. The Early Church Fathers seemed to prefer the LXX (including references to the additions). If their versions included the additions, why aren’t we reading their versions instead of the MT?
  2. Should we prefer Early Christian OT canons over MT canon? The latter representing a Jewish (non-Christian) community.

I don’t have answers here for these questions. But I’m throwing them out there for a little discussion.