Thursday, March 5, 2009

Esther C

Every night before I go to bed, I read the Bible passages scheduled for the next day's mass readings. It may sound strange, but I miss Ordinary Time. Back then, I could bookmark the passages, knowing that the passages for the next day would be just a few verses away. Now that it's Lent, I'm jumping all over my Bible.

Last night, I looked at my Lectionary chart and saw that the first reading was to be from Esther C. Huh, I thought. That's odd. So I opened my Bible and searched out the book of Esther. It started with chapter 11, then came chapter 12, and then finally came chapter 1. I searched, but I couldn't find chapter C. I had already read the gospel, so I closed my Bible, figuring that I would just read it off the USCCB website in the morning.

I went to sleep muttering about Esther C, to which my wife said that it sounded like I was talking about a cold remedy.

I did catch up on the reading this morning from the USCCB website. It corresponds to chapter 14 in my Bible, which naturally comes right after chapter 4. Here's the interesting thing, though. If you follow back the USCCB hyperlink to the indicated verse, it brings you to chapter 1, which is not the mass reading!

I use the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition Bible published by Ignatius Press. It didn't give me any help in finding the readings, and only added to my confusion. I do, however, have a Catholic Youth Bible published by Saint Mary's Press on my bookshelf. I don't use it much, because it's a New Revised Standard Version and I prefer the RSV translation to the NRSV. However, it had a nice explanation at the beginning of the book of Esther.

The deuterocanonical portions of the Book of Esther are several additional passages found in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Book of Esther, a translation that differs also in other respects from the Hebrew text (the latter is translated in the NRSV Old Testament). The disordered chapter numbers come from the displacement of the additions to the end of the canonical Book of Esther by Jerome in his Latin translation and from the subsequent division of the Bible into chapters by Stephen Langton, who numbered the additions consecutively as though they formed a direct continuation of the Hebrew text. So that the additions may be read in their proper context, the whole of the Greek version is here translated, though certain familiar names are given according to their Hebrew rather than their Greek form; for example, Mordecai and Vashti instead of Mardocheus and Astin. The order followed is that of the Greek text, but the chapter and verse numbers conform to those of the King James or Authorized Version. The additions, conveniently indicated by the letters A-F, are located as follows: A, before 1.1; B, after 3:13; C and D, after 4.17; E, after 8.12; F, after 10.3.

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