A current pet peeve of mine is people who want to insist that we be culturally savvy in our understanding of our own culture and the culture of the Bible, and that this needs to happen before we can really get the message from the text. It seems to me a subtle attempt to deaden and dull the immediacy of God's living word. So my ears always prick up when I get the hint that others see this as a problem too. In the interview, Barry says:
The Jewish people during the inter-testamental period even added a bit to the story of Esther, and this has been preserved in the Septuagint [the traditional Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament]. In these additions, whoever wrote them seems to have wanted to exonerate Esther from the charge of having broken the law and behaved immorally.
So one of the exciting and fascinating things for me was when I read the book of Esther, having questions about their behaviour, and then discovered that the Jews of the inter-testamental period had the same thoughts. It was a good example of a modern reader reading the same text, with my questions coming not out of my modernity or my Christianity; it was a real issue that arose for earlier readers too.
I am not sure at all that Barry shares my annoyance with scholarly attempts at authoritative cultural exegesis. But his observations about the continuity between BC culture and his questions—my questions too, when I read Esther—help us see why it is that the Bible speaks to day. It's God's inerrant, infallible and true word, applied by his Spirit to people who have been made in his image. It's an image that remains despite the passage of some two and a half thousand years between when God first addressed his hearers, to when he addresses us now.