Jew­ish Text

Megillat Esther

  • Review
By – November 10, 2011
This is not a book for young chil­dren! The bib­li­cal Megillat Esther (the Book of Esther), can be appre­ci­at­ed on many lev­els. There is the sim­ple nar­ra­tive taught to school chil­dren and there is the nuanced sto­ry of Jews liv­ing in Per­sia, palace intrigue, anti- Semi­tism, sex­u­al encoun­ters, and realpoli­tik. There are sim­plis­tic good guy-bad guy under­stand­ings and there is the sophis­ti­cat­ed leit­mo­tif of mea­sure for mea­sure, or an appre­ci­a­tion of how the Amalek sto­ry is played out.

JT Wald­man is a very tal­ent­ed young man who has pro­vid­ed an orig­i­nal trans­la­tion, art­work and cal­lig­ra­phy for Megillat Esther. In essence, he has writ­ten and illus­trat­ed an adult com­ic book ver­sion of this clas­sic sto­ry. The art­work is stun­ning, reveal­ing lay­ers of mean­ing behind the text. 

The read­er is assist­ed by notes and com­ments on the text. If one has the patience, it is a great read. Mid-way through the book, one has to turn it upside down to con­tin­ue read­ing. This is Waldman’s way of show­ing how the Jews’ for­tune was reversed. One can­not peruse this book casu­al­ly; it must be read care­ful­ly and stu­dious­ly. Char­ac­ters are revealed and ful­ly devel­oped in a nov­el way. Waldman’s illus­tra­tions demon­strate full famil­iar­i­ty with the Midrash and rab­binic sources on Megillat Esther. It is chal­leng­ing, fas­ci­nat­ing, charm­ing and excit­ing to dis­cov­er com­men­taries in the art­work. Wald­man has cer­tain­ly cre­at­ed a stir in the lit­er­ary world. The book has become quite pop­u­lar in the alter­na­tive lit­er­a­ture and adult com­ic book mar­kets. It is dif­fer­ent. It is exhil­a­rat­ing. It breathes new life into a Bib­li­cal stan­dard. The book is only ful­ly appre­ci­at­ed by those who know the com­men­taries and Midrash on Megillat Esther. Oth­ers will enjoy it on a dif­fer­ent plane. Will it make it in the main­stream Jew­ish book stores? Is the Jew­ish read­ing pub­lic ready for this type of book? It’s not real­ly irrev­er­ent, but it is dif­fer­ent. 

This is a work of great cre­ativ­i­ty and orig­i­nal­i­ty, and per­haps it is ahead of its time.
Wal­lace Greene, Ph.D., has held sev­er­al uni­ver­si­ty appoint­ments, and cur­rent­ly writes and lec­tures on Jew­ish and his­tor­i­cal subjects.

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