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Create a link to share a read only version of this article with your colleagues and friends. Please read and accept the terms and conditions and check the box to generate a sharing link. From the early treatments focused on historical-critical methods to the interdisciplinary approaches of the social sciences today, Ruth research continues to speak to the current developments within interpretive conversations.
This article briefly surveys major commentaries on Ruth, and then discusses the shifts in research from to today, highlighting future trajectories and trends. One of only two books in the entire biblical corpus named after a woman the other being EstherRuth encompasses the most feminine dialogue in a complete story along with ificant lexical ambiguity. The unique features of the book of Ruth feminine qualities, female relationship, canonical placements, ambiguity have created a platform for the employment of Ruth in a variety of biblical research approaches and methods.
The aim of this survey is to map the field of Ruth research through ificant commentaries and monographs, and then to chart the growing trends from — see ly Erickson and Davis This survey will also highlight topics of interest within particular methods that have been given ificant attention in recent research on Ruth.
This article will be organized in four main movements. The first will be a broad sweep of the major commentaries and monographs from the s until now, noting shifts in trends from the traditional historical-critical methodological approaches to a broad range of literary and social science approaches. The third movement will identify specific foci of noteworthy interest within recent scholarship e.
Early commentaries, though focusing on historical-critical issues and methodologies, engaged in paradigm-shifting questions that have taken new directions in recent years. From early commentaries and monographs, some of the concerns that have been woven throughout diverse treatments approach Ruth as a story about loss, relationship, and ethnic identity.
These issues pervade every commentary, though newer approaches engage current interdisciplinary trends, with critical foci concentrated on intercontextual perspectives. Standard commentaries on Ruth, focused on issues of a historical and linguistic nature, with attention to particular themes and theological topics, include MyersCampbellHubbardSassonBushNielsenand Block Holmstedt provides a detailed analysis of Ruth with a particular linguistic and grammatical analysis Campbell models the historical-critical focus with a particular emphasis on dating the book of Ruth — bce but also with considerable attention to literary, linguistic, and grammatical elements.
He challenges the earlier proposal of late features within the text. Commentaries focusing on literary approaches to Ruth include LarkinNielsenLinafeltDriesbachand Alter Fentress-Williams posits Ruth as a comedy through a Bakhtinian lens Volumes with a particular focus on teaching and preaching in congregations include SakenfeldPresslerand Driesbach Some adopt a theological and canonical focus e.
Several commentaries situate Ruth with Judges because of canonical placement in the Protestant tradition Younger ; Phillips ; Duguid ; Cundall and Morris ; Way ; Evans ; Fowl and Smit Ruth and Esther are often placed together as part of the Megilloth. Some of the commentaries combining these two books include BushLinafeltLarkinDuguidQueen-Sutherlandand Taylor forthcoming.
ifying a shift from Campbellthe Yale Anchor Bible series introduced a new edition, a second commentary on Ruth by Jeremy Schipper These two commentaries on Ruth in the Anchor Bible Series exemplify the shift in current trends in Ruth research, from an attempt to secure dating considerations in the text in order to reveal the objectives of the story to a more open discussion that allows for broader and more theologically complex nuances.
This fluidity extends into his discussion on genre and dating, resisting a definitive stance but remaining open in dialogue with linguistic data and literary connections. Schipper works closely with linguistic and literary features, taking into reception history, with attention to recent discourse within biblical studies on gender, sexual desire, and the ideological dimensions of exogamy. Noting this shift, commentaries in this trajectory include Hawk and McKeown Queen-Sutherland includes indigenous readings Another ificant translation and commentary that takes into the linguistic features of Ruth and argues for it as a late book while also examining issues of exogamy is Alter Monographs and collected essays with a feminist approach include the pioneering analyses of Ruth by Tribleand Fuchs Goss and West offer a reading of Ruth as a queer ancestress Feminist approaches that utilize insights and concepts from Bakhtin, a Russian literary critic and philosopher, include Pardes and Aschkenasy In order to subvert expectations of the story through genre ifiers and character types, Fewell and Gunn explore complexities of the characters, comparing them to people in real life.
Ziegler offers a somewhat traditional characterization of Ruth and Boaz, coupled with close reading in dialogue with Jewish exegesis Several articles focus on critical themes and motifs in Ruth such as redemption Adelman ; Auld and moral agency Fewell Deuteronomic legalities are highlighted by Kruger Embry reveals that redemption of property is a key issue in Ruth and illustrates it through an intertextual example from Num.
Halton draws out the provocative overtones and ambiguity in Ruth 3, making a case that Naomi uses Ruth for sexual entrapment Agriculture is another key motif, as illustrated by BrittKoosedand Snow The genre of Ruth is examined in almost every commentary and monograph. Genre analysis regarding Ruth continues to be full of promise, contributing engaging ideas as to the communicative purposes of the community that produced the text and the reception histories and trajectories of the communities receiving it. Genre, as discussed in these works, encompasses both form and function of a text and can aid in determining the purpose of the text Newsom According to Hubbard, though not stated explicitly in the text of Ruth, scholars have identified five possible functions of Ruth Hubbard : 35, n.
Ruth as having didactic value for ethical decisions, along with the characters modeling true wisdom. Sasson deates Ruth as a folktale : More recent proposals focus on the literary quality of comedy within Ruth. The development of innovative approaches to the conversation on genre deations continues to be a fruitful endeavor in Ruth research. This placement connects intertextually with the bookends of Ruth in 1. Lexical and thematic connections between Judges 19—21 and Ruth could indicate later redaction, potentially by a deuteronomistic editor, with a possible chronological ificance Nielsen : 40; Linafelt : xix.
Parallels between Judges and Ruth could indicate another possibility. Namely, the one woman judge not specifically involved in bloodshed—Deborah—could parallel the Ruth story, a story set in a time of peace Schipper : In the MT, Ruth is placed in the Writings.
In some, Ruth is located directly after Psalms, which makes Ruth the first in the festal scroll list, the Megilloth. This placement could indicate a liturgical ificance. Erickson and Davis recently surveyed current trends in research on the Megilloth. Ruth is part of the Megilloth collection, the five festal scrolls, in the Jewish canon. There has been an increase in publications focused on the Megilloth see Erickson and Davis Research has revolved around these key areas: purpose and origin of the grouping of the five scrolls Stoneintertextual studies, theology of the scrolls—i.
Recent research trends demonstrate a revitalization in concentrated efforts to study the Megilloth as a collection and highlight particular theological topics. Some recent comprehensive works continue to neglect the use of Ruth in Old Testament theology. Paul R. Bruce K. The nature of how Ruth and Orpah were obtained as wives is noted by many scholars. The foreignness of Ruth and Orpah is highlighted immediately in Ruth 1. In line with Block and taking this idea a step further, Queen-Sutherland points out that in connection to the kidnappings in Judg.
The three women—Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah—are central figures in the remainder of the story. Their husbands mysteriously die and these widowed women take center stage. Their identity as widows is another important area within Ruth research. The type of widow these women could be termed becomes critical to the discussion. Though these women are never described as a specific type of widow, Embry elucidates a possibility by emphasizing the redemption of property in the book. Nu illustrates the negative effects of modern-day interpretation of the levirate practice by the Kachin tribe in Myanmar.
This modern interpretation removes agency from the widow and the man obligated to obtain her. Several studies explore the social location of Ruth in a field and its potential for violence. In Ruth 2. Another indicator of potential violence is the supervisor in Ruth 2, according to Fewell and Gunn :Sex dating in Matheny
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