This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday, 24 July 2014


Welcome back to the Eccles Bible Project, where we present the books of the Bible to atheists and other backsliders. Following on from Judith we now have, according to the Catholic and Orthodox listing, the book of Esther.

Richard Dawkins, you've read this book as part of your homework. Would you like to stand up and tell the class what it's all about?

Well, I've only read the first chapter and the last chapter, as that's enough for a clever man like me to work out what's going on. Indeed, if you look on my website you can read the first and last chapters of The God Delusion for free, and they hardly even mention God because I was thinking of something else at the time.

God in cloud


What? Stop plugging my book? Oh, all right. Esther it is, then. Incidentally, this book doesn't mention God either, so obviously it supports my atheist pericope that we're just a mass of little cells, and that God is a delusion. Now, the book of Esther starts off with a King Assuerus, who is said to have reigned from India to Ethiopia over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces: he holds a great feast, and after seven days of eating and drinking he calls for his wife Queen Vashti, but she refuses to come in.

Dawkins stuffing himself

King Assuerus / Ahasuerus / Xerxes / Artaxerxes enjoys a feast.

Actually, that sort of thing happens to me a lot too. After the seventh day of a feast at New College, Oxford, many a learned professor might ask his wife to come along and drive him home, but she might equally well have gone off in the Tardis in disgust. By the way, may I point out that Assuerus, or whatever you call him, almost certainly didn't exist? I'm a trained biologist and I know these things. Esther didn't exist, either. Or India. Or Ethiopia.

Now, the other chapter I've read, Esther 16, contains a letter sent out by Artaxerxes. It does mention Esther, but only briefly. He seems to be going on about some chap called Aman being disobedient, and the Jews being well-behaved. Basically nothing much happens in this book, and they're too ashamed even to mention Jesus or Mohammed. End of.

Haman hanging

An 'appy ending: Aman is 'anged.

Thanks, Richard. I'll give you 2 out of 10 for effort there. You did miss a few details, in fact. There's a Jew called Mardochai / Mordecai who saves the king's life, there's a man called Aman / Haman who wants M. killed, and there's a Jewish woman called Esther who becomes a friend of the king and invites him to several dinners; in the end she contrives for Aman to be 'anged, er, hanged, on the gallows he built for Mardochai.

By the way the ``expanded" version of Esther's book does mention God, but this is not the version accepted by most Protestants. My brother Bosco, who thinks that God wrote the King James Bible and that all other versions are mistranslations of the KJV, would certainly not approve of it.

That's life!

That's Life! Esther, Mordecai and Haman offer an oddly-shaped parsnip to King Assuerus.

So next time we'll discuss Job. He was a bundle of laughs and no mistake...

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