Remembering Esther: Anti-Semitism and the Conflict of Identity

Jeremiah Cataldo

Abstract


Reading the biblical narrative of Esther – a narrative giving way to the ritualized Feast of Purim – against more recent testimonies and accounts of anti-Semitism demonstrates common patterns in social, political, and religious responses to conflict. When studied carefully, these patterns support a common model capable of cross-cultural application. This model supports the fundamental thesis that anti-Semitism is not simply a belief but a conflict over identity that produces beliefs and behavioral patterns consistent with deep-rooted prejudices. Moreover, this conflict is typically an “absolute conflict” disguised as an “institutional conflict”, terms that will be defined, and is usually triggered by perceived interruptions to institutionalized power. Studies of anti-Semitism must always include detailed understandings of both the identity of the perpetrator and the identity of the victim.


Keywords


The Book of Esther; anti-Semiticism

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391