Holly Thompson




Thesis title: 

A Reception-Historical Study of Gender Subversion in the Book of Esther


Professor Sue Gillingham


It has been commented on by numerous scholars that the Book of Esther takes a curious approach to portraying its characters, particularly when compared with the other books of the Hebrew Bible. Indeed, when one applies the idea of a gender binary to the text, that is an emphasis on male and female gender normativity, Esther appears to be employing gender subversion through its characters’ portrayals. My thesis aims to explore gender play and gender subversion in the Esther and in its reception in ancient translations, commentaries, liturgy and aesthetic responses, particularly in music. I will approach this topic in a fourfold manner: a) studying the portrayal of gender in the biblical narrative, b) exploring the portrayal of gender in the reception of the text, in commentaries and music through the ages, c) mapping out the evolution of such gender portrayals in their reception to see how, where and why they have undergone changes or stayed constant and finally d) assessing whether gender play or gender subversion is present in text or reception either explicitly or implicitly.


AHRC Doctoral Training Scholarship

Other research interests:

The reception of the Psalms in choral music, particularly of the 20th and 21st Centuries; the reception of the Hebrew Bible in theatre and film; feminist biblical interpretation; translation reception; Septuagint studies; philosophy of religion; Christianity and the arts.

Academic-related Activities: 

GJCC committee member 2015-16

About me: 

I received a BA (hons) in Theology and Religious Studies from King’s College London in 2010 and was awarded the Oesterley Prize in Old Testament Studies. After working for four years in the publishing industry I returned to university in 2014, and in 2015 I received an MSt in Theology: Old Testament Studies from the University of Oxford. I am a classically trained choral singer, a fan of absurdist drama and a foodie.