In the book of Esther, God is nowhere to be found. How did this book get into the Bible?
Reading the Bible (and properly understanding it, as much as it is actually possible) often proves to be a difficult task. It requires both patience and training. It demands attentiveness to detail, some general knowledge of the contexts in which these texts were written, and the intellectual humility to admit one is more often than not in the wrong. But perhaps, first and foremost, the Bible needs to be read with an adventurous spirit willing to deal with its many “eccentricities.”
Saying the Bible is full of oddities is an understatement. Saying it is a challenging book is right and wrong at the same time. To begin with, the Bible is not a book, but an assemblage of several separate books, most (if not all) of them made from the interweaving of different, sometimes openly contradictory sources. It is also the byproduct of the minute and painstaking work of generations and generations of writers, compilers, and editors. It is a collection of texts written, edited, and codified over millennia.
The process of deciding which texts get into the Bible and which do not is called canonization —a term seemingly derived from the canes with which measuring rods were made in antiquity, that passed into Christian usage to mean “norm” or “rule.” The Jewish canon, assembled over the course of centuries, is often referred to as “Tanakh.” The word is an acronym made of the first letters of each of the three main collections included in it: “T” for the Torah (the first five books), “N” for Nevi’im (meaning “prophets,” and including not only the books with prophets’ names as their titles, but also the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings), and “K” for Kethuvim (meaning “writings,” which includes more or less everything else).
But some authors say God is not necessarily absent. He is just “hiding” in the text.