Robert Alter on Unorthodox Bible: Esther, Song of Solomon, Jonah

Professor Robert Alter (UC-Berkeley) discusses the three books of the Bible which might be considered the “most unorthodox: the two books that never mention the word God (the Book of Esther, the Song of Songs) and the book that pushes back against religious nationalism (the Book of Jonah).” The discussion is with Scott Saul in Chapter & Verse, a books-and-arts podcast from UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities.

In the Book of Esther, a story that veers into sex comedy, a beautiful Jewish commoner joins a Persian king’s harem and contrives to save her people. In the Song of Songs, two lovers engage in a dance of mutual seduction that encourages us, as readers, to “be drunk with loving.” And in the Book of Jonah, a man who refuses to preach to his enemies is swallowed by a giant fish — God working in magical as well as mysterious ways.

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Yair Zakovitch on Esther: “Where is God Hiding?”

Professor Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) delivered a talk on the Book of Esther, the only biblical book which does not mention God. The lecture, entitled “Where is God Hiding?‘ was part of the Orange County Community Scholars Program (OCCSP), podcasted January 30, 2005.

The talk is available in m4a audio format:

Zakovitch_Yair

Robert Henry Charles – Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English

Charles

Robert Henry Charles’s classic edited collection of translations of Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (1913) is made available by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL).

Another copy is available on Internet Archive: vol 1 and vol 2.

Although somewhat superseded by James Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (1983-85) and Bauckham, Davila, and Panayotov’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures 1 (2013), the translations in Charles’s edited volumes are still regularly used and referred to.

Volume 1: The Apocrypha of the Old Testament

Historical Books
Esdras (Cook)
1 Maccabees / William O.E. Oesterley
2 Maccabees / James Moffatt
3 Maccabees (Emmet)

Quasi-historical Books Written with a Moral Purpose
Tobit (Simpson)
Judith (Cowley)

Wisdom Literature
Sirach / George H. Box and William O.E. Oesterley
Wisdom of Solomon (Holmes)

Additions to and Completions of the Canonical Books
1 Baruch (Whitehouse)
Epistle of Jeremy [Jeremiah] (Ball)
Prayer of Manasses [Manasseh] (Ryle)
Additions to Daniel
Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Children (Bennett)
Susanna (Kay)
Bel and the Dragon (Witton Davies)
Additions to Esther (Gregg)

Volume 2: The Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament

Primitive History Rewritten from the Standpoint of the Law
The Book of Jubilees / Robert Henry Charles

Sacred Legends
The Letter of Aristeas (Andrews)
The Books of Adam and Eve (Wells)
The Martyrdom of Isaiah (Charles)

Apocalypses
1 Enoch (Charles)
The Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs (Charles)
The Sibylline Oracles (Lanchester)
The Assumption of Moses (Charles)
2 Enoch, or the Book of the Secrets of Enoch (Forbes and Charles)
2 Baruch, or the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (Charles)
3 Baruch, or the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (Hughes)
Ezra (Box)

Psalms
The Psalms of Solomon (Gray)

Ethics and Wisdom Literature
4 Maccabees (Townshend)
Pirke Aboth (Herford)
The Story of Achikar [Ahikar] (Harris, Lewis, Conybeare)

History
The Fragments of a Zadokite Work [Cairo Damascus Document] (Charles)