Considerations in Preparing a Biblical Bibliography: Case Study: The Scroll of Esther

Edith Lubetski, Meir Lubetski
2010 Theological Librarianship  
A bibliography is fundamental to serious scholarship in any discipline. We conceived this bibliography of the Scroll of Esther as a basic tool for researchers, students, clergy, and librarians, as it assembles items scattered all over the world, in many languages, covering a century of scholarship. In addition, it was meant to provide both the novice and the expert with material on a wide range of topics. We wanted to bring together an assortment of views, affording the researcher the
more » ... rcher the opportunity to see the diversity of scholarly opinion on specific subjects. For example, different authors perceive Queen Esther quite differently: One sees her as a feminist; another as a deceitful and relentless person; a third as a model for the successful conduct of life in the Diaspora; and a fourth as a stereotypical woman in a man's world. We wanted our readers to sample a smorgasbord of views and then decide what was most appetizing. Esther is the biblical queen who has captured the minds and hearts of many scholars. Who was Esther? Is she fictional or historical? How much is truth and how much is fiction? What are the dates of the book's setting, of its writing? Who wrote it? Is the Scroll of Esther a feminist story or does it have other messages? Is it serious or humorous? Secular or religious? Almost every humanistic discipline is represented in the field of Esther scholarship: art, literature, history, psychology, sociology, linguistics, political science, religion. Literary criticism abounds: Researchers have studied the Scroll's structure, motifs, narrative, irony, humor, and allegory. The individual characters have been analyzed, especially, as most naturally, Esther herself. The relationship of the story or text to other biblical narratives has been explored. Its literary impact has been far-reaching, influencing many literatures including Arabic, American, English, French, Hebrew, Spanish, and Yiddish. Other scholars describe how Persian/Iranian and ancient Near Eastern elements have entered the Scroll. Linguistic studies have yielded an explanation of many words, with hypotheses as to their ancient origins. Psychologists have studied the emotions dramatized in the Scroll: anger, self-esteem, and assertiveness. Some sociologists have found significance in Esther for the South African women's liberation movement. Historians have been challenged with the problem of historicity, and theologians with the canonicity of the Scroll. The religious seek God in the Scroll, while secularists exclude Him. Christians and Jews find their own meanings and inspiration in the text. Political scientists write about government and politics in the story. Art historians deal with illuminated manuscripts of the Scroll; archaeologists find artifacts relating to it. In short, Esther has inspired men and women all over the world in manifold ways. The challenge then was to collect this scattered material and present it in a useful way. It sounds rather simple. After all, librarians know how to search for and retrieve information. As a librarian, I knew the relevant databases, so all I had to do was search those databases, download the material to a bibliographic management tool such as Refworks or Endnote, and voilà-a bibliography! My husband, Meir, is a biblical scholar, so he would know what was important in the field. It would be easy. Or so we thought. It turned out that there were many issues to be resolved even before we began searching. The main task was to establish guidelines. The first question was simply: what to include and what to leave out? The question may have Edith Lubetski is the Library
doi:10.31046/tl.v3i1.129 fatcat:tqtmldyo3rba3marwftzvbchwq