'Dynamic Analogies' in the Book of Esther

In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

In an important methodological article, Paul Noble argues that the constancy of analogy between two narratives should be regarded as one of the indicators for establishing the probability of the analogy. Noble's argument makes sense, but we must take into consideration those instances where the changeover of characters in an analogy has a literary purpose. Even if the molding of the analogy generally allows for the structuring of a fixed parallel, in some cases the analogy between narratives encourages the presentation of a certain character from one narrative as paralleling more than one character in the other, such that the reader has difficulty tracing a continuous and consistent analogy. This phenomenon, assuming that it is intentional, may be called “dynamic analogy”. In this article, several “dynamic analogies” are examined from the book of Esther. It seems that in light of the multiplicity of instances in which this occurs in the book of Esther, it should be regarded as an intentional literary phenomenon which does indeed present an obstacle to the reader in maintaining a steady reading of the analogies between the narratives. The “dynamic analogy” in the book of Esther is a device that causes the reader to feel unequipped to assess fully the situations that he reads about and the characters that he encounters, and thus contributes to the sense of capriciousness and instability that the author is trying to convey.

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