The church will be doing the book of Esther in the sermons for the bilingual service next year. I've known for quite some time that there are additional passages to Esther in the Apocrypha, which means that we disagree with the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox on the canonicity of these passages. Nonetheless, I thought that since we are doing a serious study of Esther, it should be a fully comprehensive one. It doesn't harm to talk on a couple of prayers right?
It turns out that the additions are pretty long and there are 6 passages in total. Oops! Looks like it will take a few sermons to cover them. Why the additions? There are a few reasons.
1. God is largely absent in the original story. These additions attempt to give more theological depth to Esther and thus explain the events with a more active version of God.
2. The additions also help to explain some questions, like the inner motivations of the main characters. While the original leaves more to the imagination, the additions tell us more blatantly why Esther feels disgusted about being queen or why Mordecai doesn't bow to Haman.
3. Lastly, the additions also add drama to certain portions of the narrative that are overly brief. In particular, the texts of the edicts were given, thus giving more credibility when relating the tale.
Looks like we will be having some fun analyzing this very Jewish story. Certainly, the before and after effects of the additions will let us think about how looking at the story from different angles let us learn something new about God.