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BEACON UNIVERSITY

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF RUTH

RESEARCH PAPER SUBMITTED FOR

INTRODUCTION TO GRADUATE RESEARCH

PR 510

DR. IAN A. H. BOND

BY

ALAN L. RUSS

COLUMBUS, GEORGIA

NOVEMBER 30, 2006



CONTENTS

Chapter                                                                                                                                        Page

1.      INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................           1

2.      LITERATURE REVIEW......................................................................................           3

3.      AUTHOR AND DATE OF WRITING................................................................           9

4.      PURPOSE AND CONTENTS..............................................................................         14

5.      THEOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF RUTH............................................................         17

6.      SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION.....................................................................         22

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY...........................................................................................         23


 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

Readers are in general agreement the story of Ruth is a wonderful literary story, containing all of the elements for a pleasant tale.  It is the story of redemption.  It is the story of inclusion of the excluded.  It is the story of forgiveness of sin, as descendents of those who were cursed merge into a holy lineage.  All of this is told to the reader while demonstrating the upholding of the law of Jewish society and the greater law of Yahweh. 

The book of Ruth involves several issues of uncertainty, including authorship and the period of its being written.  Many opinions have been presented, from the traditional belief of authorship by Samuel during the time of David to a pre-exilic unknown author or authors to a post-exilic author possibly offering an argument against the religious teachings of that time.[1]

The involvement of Moabites within the story, especially with regard to marrying Hebrews, is an issue which requires discussion, because, when this is discussed, the verses of Deuteronomy are brought into play.  Does the book of Ruth uphold the Law, or, as stated in the previous paragraph, is it an argument against post-exilic interpretation of the Law.

Within the story of Ruth is also the question of its meaning with regard to the lineage of David, as expressed in the final verses of the book.  Why is this lineage important, and what is it telling us?  Is this the link which shows God’s inclusiveness to the non-Jew?  Is this a symbol of forgiveness for the ancient sins of the ancestors?  These are the issues at hand to be discussed.


 

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

The primary source for this research paper is the book of Ruth from the Old Testament.  The writer of this paper primarily used the King James Version of the Bible, although other sources made reference to various versions.  The King James Version holds its validity in being a “word for word” translation of ancient sources.  The Zondervan KJV Study Bible, edited by Kenneth Barker, was the edition used.  This Bible provides both the King James Version scripture of the book of Ruth and the accompanying foot notes for explanation of the verses.  Additionally, the editors provide a brief introduction addressing the background, author and writing of the book, its theme and theology, and the literary features contained within it.  This work is an adaptation to the KJV of their previous works.  As such, it appears to be both well written and concise.

The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, is another significant source for this paper.  This encyclopedia provides a detailed overview of the book of Ruth, addressing the general issues of content and the possible periods of authorship.  The set is considered to be a major resource in biblical studies.  It provides multiple sides of the discussion concerning the book, providing suggested reasoning for why some may have a stronger position than others.  The article concerning the book of Ruth attempts to provide an even-handed discussion of the subject and continues to weigh the merits of the various possibilities concerning the date of the book and its significance.  Bromiley argued for a pre-exilic dating for the authorship of Ruth.[2] 

Edward F. Campbell, Jr., in the Anchor Bible series volume, Ruth, also argues for a pre-exile date as to the authorship while adhering to the Julian Wellhausen’s Documentation Hypothesis.  Campbell is in appreciation of the skill of the author, and he places the work into that period of time of the J and E writers where “history and fiction merge.”[3]  Campbell’s work’s are frequently cited in the bibliographies of other authors with regard to the book of Ruth.  His work is one of the more complex studies of the book, addressing the book of Ruth both in summary and in detail.  The author provides an in-depth analysis of the book of Ruth.  Whereas most of the other works listed in this bibliography used only a limited number of pages, usually no more than contained in the whole book of Ruth, Campbell offers a full explanation of the elements of book of Ruth.  Because of this depth, this text provides considerable value to the study at hand.  Campbell was Professor of Old Testament at Chicago Theological Seminary in 1975.  Of particular use, the book contains a glossary and an index to the referenced biblical verses.

Gleason Archer, A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction, on the other hand, agrees with the date of the writing, he is not being a proponent of the Documentation Hypothesis.[4]  This work is based upon the author’s conservative view of the writings of the Old Testament, especially with regard to authorship and time frame.  The text covers the general out­line of the book of Ruth, its date of composition, and the book’s basic teachings.  Archer’s research includes some of the later references to released Dead Sea scrolls infor­mation.  The work provides a strong conservative perspective of the book of Ruth, with an excellent list of sources.

Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament, also accepts the pre-exile theory of dating the writing.  Brueggemann discusses that the book of Ruth must be appreciated as a story.  He compares opinions of other theologians concerning the book, to include such things as considerations of its feminist characteristics, period written, and placement within the Bible.  His material is also aimed at the understanding of a Christian and Jewish co-readership.  Brueggemann is a noted theological author and is professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary.  Brueggeman addresses Ruth briefly within this book, tending to consider it only from the aspect of a story. [5]

Eugene H. Merrill attempts to place the book of Ruth in its proper canonical and historical setting and addresses the similarities between the two narratives contained in Judges 17-18 and 19-21.  Merrill addresses what he considers the purpose of the book to be, along with the strength of its ties to Bethlehem and the ties between the promise of the covenant and the royal fulfillment..[6]  The author attempts to place the book of Ruth in its proper canonical and historical setting.  He also addresses the similarities between the two narratives contained in Judges 17-18 and 19-21.  Merrill addresses what he considers the purpose of the book to be, along with the strength of its ties to Bethlehem and the ties between the promise of the covenant and the royal fulfillment.  This article has been peer reviewed.

George S. Glanzman, in his article “The Origin and Date of the Book of Ruth,” provides takes exception with what he refers to as the prevalent philosophy of the time (c. 1959 A.D.) and provides specific arguments against them in his attempt to clarify the origin and date of the book of Ruth.  He presents the material in a straightforward manner for the benefit of the reader.  It is within this context he makes his argument for a pre-exile writing.[7]  This author deals with the source and date of the book of Ruth.  Within that context, he examines the various published opinions and the apparent underlying poetry.  The author discusses an argument for three levels of origin, beginning with a pre-exile oral source, through an exilic source, into a post-exile source.  The analysis examines the prose style and wordage to help date the period from which the book originated.  The author concludes that this book went through a pattern of development.  This article is peer reviewed.

Likewise, Louis B. Wolfenson addresses the issue in “The Character, Contents, and Date of Ruth.”  Although this article was published in 1911, the author holds to the pre-exilic date, and, like Glanzman almost sixty years later, is going against the popular opinion of the time.  By presenting the individual arguments for an early dating, and by addressing these arguments one on one, Wolfenson is able to put forth a plausible explanation refuting the post-exilic dating of the book.[8]

William MacDonald, in the Believer’s Bible Commentary, is a proponent for the historical credibility of the historical books of the Old Testament, including Ruth.[9]  As such, references to his commentary on Ruth in the Believer’s Bible will be from that perspective.  He does provide an excellent overview of the areas within the book of Ruth.  This book is intended for a general audience, and, as such, is written in an easily read format.  The author addresses the book of Ruth with an introduction, outline, and commentary.  The introduction covers the standard issues of authorship and date, with the commentary providing a descriptive narrative of groups of verses.  The author uses the NKJV Bible.  MacDonald provides a bibliography, although the bibliography for the book of Ruth is included with the book of Judges.  As this book is intended for a general audience, it does not attempt to go into lengthy discussions, but tends to only give the author’s comments.

Walter Elwell, in The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology article pertaining to Ruth provides general overview of the book.  In the case of the book of Ruth, it provides a solid overview of the book, addressing briefly the background and the major theological issues.  This volume of the Baker Evangelical Dictionary series is a well written book which has general acceptance throughout the theological community.

Max Miller, in his article, “Ancient Moab:  Still Largely Unknown,” provides an excellent overview from an archeological perspective for the area of ancient Moab.  This article provides the reader with archaeological view of ancient Moab.  Within the article, the author explains the layout and advantages of the terrain, to include an ex­plan­ation of why Elimelech and Naomi would seek relief there from the famine in Judah.  The author also provides an overview of archaeological finds which support the historical accuracy of the Old Testament with regard to the area of Moab.  He is Professor of Hebrew Bible in the Emory University Candler School of Theology.

Most authors and critics do not indicate a primary villain or negative character with the book of Ruth.  Taking exception to that stance is Charles Baylis in “Naomi in the Book of Ruth in Light of the Mosaic Covenant.”  The author was Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theology Seminary, at the time the article was published.  He places Naomi as such a negative character in conflict with the Mosaic Covenant.  He steps through the book of Ruth addressing the places where he sees her as the negative character, conflicting “common values” against the Mosaic Covenent.[10]

Sean Warner addresses the dating of the period of the Judges in his article, “The Dating of the Period of the Judges.”[11]  It is significant to this research paper due to the statement that the book of Ruth takes place, as stated in the opening verse of the book, “in the days when the judges ruled.”  Warner compares several sources looking to date the period.  He references the various political states of the time in order to develop a time frame.  The form of discussion used provides the reader with a creditable discussion of the period of the judges.

Brian Weinstein considers Naomi as the central character in the book of Ruth.  He sees her mission as having been one to bring Ruth to Judah to enable her to become the ancestor of David.  Within that context, this article provides an explanation as to why the Moabite ancestry was necessary for David.  The article also discusses the feasibility of Ruth’s conversion to Judaism.  He uses references to the Talmud to explain portions of the book.  Weinstein also addresses an issue of why Judah needed an infusion of Moabite blood and what Ruth may have brought to Judah with her.[12]


 

CHAPTER THREE

AUTHOR AND DATE OF WRITING

The book of Ruth is a story set “in the days when the judges ruled.”[13]  The period of the judges is considered to have occurred between either 1380 through 1050 B.C. or 1200 through 1050 B.C., depending upon whether one is accepting an early (c. 1446 B.C.) or a late (c. 1290 B.C.) date for the Exodus. [14],[15]  One theologian places the beginning date more precisely at c. 1373 B.C., based upon reevaluation of earlier archaeological discoveries.[16]  Another, Newell Wells, believed the story occurred during the forty years after the Moabite leader Eglon was killed (c. 1100 B.C.). [17]  Using the logic that for Ruth and Boaz to be the great-grandparents of David, the period of time before the David’s reign could not be too excessive, with the period around 1100 B.C. date fitting into that range.

The author of the book of Ruth is not mentioned by name, although authorship is attributed to Samuel in the Babylon Talmud[18] and per Jewish tradition;[19],[20] however, this assumption is not universally accepted.  Authorship of the book by Samuel is most often criticized because of discussions surrounding the date the book was written.  The discussion of authorship quickly becomes one of tradition versus a lack of definitive proof to establish a specific author.  One set of arguments credits the J or E writers, with others crediting the P sources, depending upon which period for the writing of the book is being defended.  This issue, therefore, has become one of addressing the timeframe of the writing, and then attributing an author from that period.

Traditionally, the book of Ruth is considered to have been written no earlier than during the time of King David (1011 – 970 B.C.), or shortly thereafter, since the mention of David in the book would preclude an earlier date.  Also, because King David’s son, Solomon, is not mentioned in the book, some theologians consider that to be a factor limiting the book to having been written during the reign of David and before the ascension to the throne by Solomon.[21],[22]

First, must be examined the issue of examining a post-exile versus pre-exile period for the writing.  The editors of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia declare the probability of the book being written during the pre-exilic period due to a lack of issues commonly found in post-exilic writings. [23]  Also, because this is before the “prophets strong condemnation of Moab” occurred, they find the earlier date to be more supportive “before the negative sentiments arose.”[24] 

Louis Wolfenson addressed the issue of a post-exile date for the writing of the book of Ruth by reviewing what he considered to be the five indications he considered to possess significant weight.  These arguments for a post-exilic period include:  First are the opening words of the book, “In the days when Judges ruled,” where it was felt that only a much later writer would not recognize the turbulence of the time of the judges.  An earlier writer would have been aware of the struggles and would not have reflected a “calm and restful” period.  Second, the “genealogies in 4:18-22 indicate by its style and formularistic character, which it has in common with the Priestly Code (P), that the book is at least as late as P.”  (c. 400 B.C.).  Third, this is followed by the passage 4:7 relating to former customs, which indicates a time long past, therefore requiring the writer to explain the significance of the action.  The arrangement of the Jewish biblical books is the fourth issue, with Ruth being found in the “Writings,” indicating a late origin, with the opinion being that, if it had been written earlier, it would have been included in the “Prophets.”  Fifth and finally, the “linguistic peculiarities and affinities” are considered by some to be distinctly late. [25]

Wolfenson counters the first four arguments to be inconclusive or invalid as an argument by addressing them in this manner.  First, the date of the J documents (c. 950-850 B.C.) would have been sufficiently late for the struggles in the time of the Judges to have been forgotten.  Later redaction may have influenced the wording.  Also to be considered, according to Wolfenson, is that there may well have been peaceful interludes throughout the time of the Judges.  The genealogy would limit the writing to at least the time of David; however, it, too, may be a later addition.  With regard to the explanation in Ruth 4:7, Wolfenson notes that this custom appeared to still be known after the exile and would have been enforced by Ezra and Nehemiah, indicating it would not have been a “forgotten” custom.  As to the issue of placement within the Jewish biblical books, Wolfenson points to evidence that, until about 150 A.D., all books were separate volumes, causing this issue to be arbitrary and meaningless.  The linguistic issues actually more strongly support an early writing, as much within the book is in support of an early form.[26]

Edward F. Campbell further addresses the issue of when the book of Ruth was written with a belief that it was probably written during the period from 950 to 700 B.C., following a period of “oral transmission.”[27]  He states that a later date for the book is partially based upon linguistic issues of the Aramaic influence in the Hebrew language after the Babylon exile, along with some “confused gender” forms of words; however, there are only a few examples of these issues within the book.[28]  On the other hand, linguistics within the book of Ruth tend to favor an early writing, because of a close relationship to tenth century and ninth century language.[29]  Another common argument for a late writing is the explanatory sentence in the book of Ruth (4:7) where the reader is told, “Now, this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing ...”  This leads to the question of how much time is needed for a custom to be forgotten to the point it must be explained by an author.  The arguments for a late writing (post-Solomon or post-exile) argue that a significant period of time and societal disruption must have occurred to reach such a state.

Campbell challenges the later dates and continues to accept the 950 – 700 B.C. time frame due to all of the disruptions in the periods immediately before and during the early monarchy.[30]  This is the timeframe where “there is no boundary to be found which clearly divides fiction from historical narrative.”[31]  This opinion concerning the writing of the book is echoed by Walter Bruggemann, who further states that “conventional reading of the narrative has become much less important – and less credible – as scholars have turned away from historical questions to literary-rhetorical matters.”[32]

Further support for the pre-exile writing is also given by George Glanzman, who also notes for consideration that the story includes “legal usages” which indicate the society may have been in transition from clan to family unit, and that some of the folk customs described may be earlier than the “Pentateuchal legislation.”  He supports a timeframe for the writing as 700-800 B.C.[33]


 

CHAPTER FOUR

PURPOSE AND CONTENTS

 

Moab

As an introduction to the discussion of the purpose and contents of the book of Ruth, some background concerning the land of Moab is in order.  Specifically, the reader should understand why Moab would have been thought a safe haven in a time when Israel and Judah were suffering drought and famine.

Moab is located on a high plateau in an area East of the Dead Sea, with most of its settlements being on the Western side of the plateau.  The area is thought to have been settled as early as 3000 B.C.[34]  The Moabite Kingdom appears in the thirteenth century as Egypt’s sovereignty in the area waned.  By the period from 1200 to 1100 B.C., many villages and fortified sites were in existence.[35]  It also appears that movement back and forth between Israel and Moab was probably a common thing during the time of Ruth.[36]  Little is known about Moab, with much of the information coming from the Hebrew Bible and an inscription reporting the deeds of ninth century king Mesha of Moab.[37]  We must presume the story of Ruth took place in a time when the Hebrews and Moabites were in a period of a relatively peaceful relationship, otherwise, travel to Moab to escape the famine might well have been perceived as riskier than the famine, itself.[38]

The area of where Moab was located tends to have heavy winter rains on a soil which is porous enough to hold moisture for cereal crops and grazing.  Also, in areas where deeper soil is found and there is the presence of springs, the land is capable of supporting fruit trees and vine­yards.[39]  This provides an indication as to why Moab was considered to be a safe haven when Judah was suffering from drought and famine, for it appeared to be less susceptible to those events.[40]

 

The Book of Ruth

The book of Ruth is divided into five major sections.  The first four each comprise one of the four chapters of the book, with the fifth section at the end of the fourth chapter.[41]  The following is a short overview of the book of Ruth.  Each of these areas will be discussed more specifically in the next chapter of this paper.

The book begins with Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, leaving Bethlehem and going to Moab to escape the effects of a drought and famine.  Within the next ten years, Elimelech dies, the sons each take a Moabite as their wives, and, then, the sons each die.  It is at this time that Naomi, upon hearing of better times in Judah, plans to return there.  She encourages the two daughters-in-law to remain with their own families in Moab; however, a daughter-in-law, Ruth, insists upon traveling to Judah with Naomi.

In chapter two, Ruth and Boaz meet in the harvest field.  Under the Law or Mosaic Covenant, the corners of the fields were to be left for the widows and poor.  Naomi knew of the kinship of Boaz; however, it is divine providence credited for bringing Ruth to his fields while he was present.  Boaz respected the efforts Ruth was making on behalf of Naomi, and granted Ruth special gleaning privileges.

In chapter three, we find the kinsman/redeemer.  Naomi instructs Ruth as to how to dress, and when to approach Boaz to ask for his protection.  Ultimately, they meet on the threshing floor, where Boaz agrees to take Ruth under his care.  Although there is another kinsman closer to Elimelech than Boaz, he states his intention to resolve the problem.

Finally, in chapter four, Boaz approaches this unnamed kinsman, who is willing to give up any claim he might have to Ruth.  Boaz redeems Naomi’s property and announces his marriage to Ruth.  God’s blessing is pronounced upon Naomi by the people when Ruth gives birth to a son, the heir to Elimelech.

The book ends with the genealogy of the son, Obed, being traced from Perez, through Obed, to David, showing the blessings upon this family.  There is disagreement as to whether this portion was part of the original book or was added later, with Bromiley, Campbell, and others accepting the genealogy to be part of the original story.[42]


 

CHAPTER FIVE

THEOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF RUTH

The central theme throughout the book of Ruth is the story of redemption.  This theme is emphasized in various ways throughout the book, as examples of God’s people turning from Him, and being redeemed when they return to His Law.

The book of Genesis tells the reader that long before the time of the Judges and Ruth, another story had happened.  First, Abram, who is to be the one selected by God to be the ancestor of all the chosen people of Yahweh, separates from his nephew, Lot.  Abram gave Lot the choice of lands to which he could take his herd, with Abram to go the other way, in God’s hands.[43]  It is this separation which brings Lot into contact with the Sodomites and leads to the cursing of his descendents.  For, as we are told, after the destruction of Sodom, the two daughters of Lot subdue their father with wine and have sex with him.  To the first daughter is born Moab, the ancestor of the Moabites.  To the other daughter is born Ben-ammi, the ancestor of the Ammonites.[44]  It is from the separation and the curse of Lot that the Ammonites and Moabites are seen as being apart from the Hebrews.  It is not until David, through the line of Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz, who are upholders of the laws of Yahweh, that a descendent Abraham and Moab will become ruler of the Hebrews.

Along with the incestuous start for the beginning of the people of Moab, Deuteronomy also tells us the Moabites were to remain outside of the chosen people, “because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.  Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee.”[45]  This presents the question as to whether there exists a conflict in the book of Ruth to have this Moabite woman to be given such prominence in Hebrew genealogy.

Brian Weinstein states that God did not tell Israel to destroy the Moabites, as He instructed them to do with regard to other inhabitants they met in route to, and in, the promised land, but, rather, that these foreigners cannot become Israelites.[46]  Weinstein also states the Talmud “explains that the interdiction does not apply to females [Yevamoth 76b].”[47]  Within this framework, it is well arguable that Moab was indeed giving a better status than others encountered in the land of Canaan.

The book of Ruth provides an example of God’s sovereignty in everyday life as it was shown to the Hebrews in the three important areas of food, marriage, and children.  In Deuteronomy, the Hebrews were warned that the failure to obey Yahweh would result in drought, famine, “cursing the fruit of their womb,” and removal from the land.[48]  Elimelech and his family suffer all of these, as a drought and famine causes him to relocate with his wife and sons to Moab, where the two sons perish, leaving no descendents in his line.  It is through Ruth, the Moabite, that we see the hope for God’s redemption, for Ruth elects to return with Naomi.

Charles Baylis states that the book of Ruth has many times been described as a Hebrew story without any of the major characters of the book being a “negative character”. [49]  Edward Campbell addresses the book of Ruth as a Hebrew short story, but he does not address the issue of a villain or “negative character” as Baylis does, nor does Campbell see this as an issue.  Baylis sees Naomi as the weak and flawed character of the story, in spite of her unselfishness towards her daughter-in-law, against the positive characters of Ruth and Boaz.  He also contends that it is Naomi’s conflict between “common values” and those values drawn from the Mosaic Covenant which places her in the negative light.[50]

Baylis describes the basic common values in the book of Ruth as food and children, for it is through an attempt to protect these values that the story is based.  Likewise, Naomi’s desire to return to her homeland and her need to find support for herself and Ruth are strong common values which are attributable to survival.  Baylis acknowledges that many who judge Naomi do so with an understanding of these common values; however, he points out that many of Naomi’s actions are directly in conflict with the Mosaic Covenant.  Since famine and drought were Yahweh’s punishment for the people turning away from Him, the assumption must be that Judah is in a time of punishment.  The family of Elimelech turned against God by departing from Judah to avoid this punishment, this resulting in God removing Elimelch.  Also, their sons chose to marry Moabite women, those placing them in conflict with God. [51]

When Naomi returns to Judah and God, and with Ruth’s insistence to accompany her and accept the God of Naomi, we begin to see a the promised redemption through obedience to the covenant.  Baylis again points to Naomi’s solution through common values, for she sends Ruth to Boaz at the threshing floor, not as a widow of a kinsman, but as a young woman without the widow’s dress.  Again, this separates Naomi from the covenant, although it is Ruth and Boaz who choose to uphold the covenant, thus finding redemption for themselves, their child, and Naomi.[52]

In an explanation offered by Weinstein, Ruth “passed the test” when she thrice refused Naomi’s offer for her to return to her own people in Moab.[53]  Weinstein, referring to Shaye Cohen, states that it is from this test and dialogue some of the traditions concerning conversion to Judaism have developed.  He states “after the conquest of the Promised Land, Jewish, Judahite or Judean identity meant that one lived in Judah-Judea or that one traced one’s origins to this geographical entity.  One did not have to be a descendant of Judah.”[54]  Thus, Ruth became a Judean by moving there, and that “one  did not even have to believe in the One God to be a Judean.”[55]  Thus, Ruth would have been considered a Judean in this manner, negating the negative issue of a man marrying a Moabite, if this is to be accepted.

Edward Campbell observes that “God’s activity in the Ruth book is very much that of the one in the shadows, the one whose manifestation is not by intervention but by a lightly exercised providential control.”[56]  The theology of the covenant is considered to be the “frame of reference operative in Ruth.”[57] 

Eugene Merrill considers the main theology of the book of Ruth to be the tracing of the ancestry of David back to Judah and Bethlehem.  Most importantly, Merrill notes that the genealogy does not just take the lineage back to Ruth and Boaz, but even unto Perez, the son of Judah and Tamar. [58]  He considers the book of Ruth to be part of a “Bethlehem trilogy,” consisting of the narratives in Judges 17-18 and Judges 19-21 and involving the stories of men leaving of Bethlehem to seek fortune in another land.[59]  Ruth, the Moabite, is seen by Merrill to the figure to bring a reunification of the lines of Lot and Abraham onward to David.[60] 

Merrill also points to the genealogical list contained in Matthew 1 as only mentioning four women:  Tamar and Rahab, who were Canaanites; Ruth, a Moabite; and Bathsheba, presumed to be a Hittite.  Of issue here, is their weakness and socio-economic simplicity, bringing forth the “sovereign grace of God who is not only able to use but who seems to delight in using the foreign, the frail, and perhaps even the disreputable to accomplish His eternal purposes.”[61]


 

CHAPTER SIX

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

The book of Ruth is a wonderful literary story in and of itself.  It does not require a reader to be greatly concerned with issues of theology to enjoy the story.  It teaches the reader the lessons of the Law and traditional values, and for that it stands on its own, regardless of the issues surrounding it.  The issue of authorship of the book of Ruth is left unknown, for there is no conclusive evidence made available to researchers at this point which adequately answer the “who.”

When the book was written is the next major question.  Some researchers believe it was written within three generations of the events described, some who consider the book to have been written up to six hundred years later, possibly in rebuttal of policies by Ezra they found disagreeable, and some who consider the book to have been written within two hundred years of the time when Judges ruled.  Increasingly, the opinions point to the early period of writing, from the time of David to the late J period of authorship.

The book of Ruth is a story of redemption, where the Law is upheld, even in spite of a possible appearance of conflict.  The leaving of the corners of the fields to the poor and widows is rewarded to Boaz, the levirate law is honored and rewarded to Naomi, and God shows His redemption upon them and the Hebrews through this ancestor of David.

In the opinion of the writer of this paper, the authorship is not an issue with the credibility of the book.  This writer accepts the opinions that the book was written either in the time of David or shortly thereafter, with reasoning based upon the argument of the lineage shown in the book.

The question as to the book of Ruth being “historical fact” or “historical fiction” is one which is agued from a point of personal belief, for without further proof as to the actual existence of Ruth and Boaz, we are left only with the story itself to tell us of their lives.  For those who consider the book of Ruth to be “historical fiction,” it is still not difficult to accept the impor­tance and validity of the lessons shown within.  Both groups understand the lessons in redemption and inclusiveness being shown.

To those who accept the Bible as the divine Word of God, the book of Ruth is all of that, and much more, for its path ultimately leads to the “greatest story ever told.”


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Archer, Gleason L.  A Survey of Old Testament Introduction.  3d ed.  Chicago:  Moody Press, 1994.

Barker, Kenneth, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel, and Ronald Youngblood, eds.  Zondervan KJV Study Bible:  King James Version.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2002.

Baylis, Charles P.  “Naomi in the Book of Ruth in Light of the Mosaic Covenant.”  Bibliotheca Sacra  161, (October-December 2004):  413-31.  Available from OCLC First Search [http://­newfirstsearch.oclc.org/];  ATLAReligion, Internet, accessed 16 October 2006.

Bromiley, Geoffrey W., Everett F. Harrison, Roland K. Harrison, William S. LaSor, Gerald H. Wilson, and Edgar W. Smith, Jr., eds.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  4 Vol.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988.

Brueggemann, Walter.  An Introduction to the Old Testament:  The Canon and Christian Imagination.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Campbell, Edward F., Jr.  The Anchor Bible.  Edited by William F. Albright and David N. Freedman.  Vol. 7, Ruth:  A New Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary.  Garden City:  Doubleday and Co., 1975.

Elwell, Walter A., ed.  “Ruth, Theology of.”  Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.  Grand Rapids:  Baker Academic, 1996.  Available from http://­bible.crosswalk.­com/­Dictionaries/­Bakers­EvangelicalDictionary/bed.cgi?number=T618.  Internet; accessed 28 October 2006.

Glanzman, George S.  “The Origin and Date of the Book of Ruth.”  Catholic Biblical Quarterly  21 (April 1959):  201-7.  Available from OCLC First Search [http://­newfirstsearch.oclc.org/];  ATLAReligion, Internet, accessed 22 October 2006.

MacDonald, William.  Believer’s Bible Commentary:  Old and New Testaments.  Edited by Arthur Farstad.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.

Merrill, Eugene H.  “The Book of Ruth:  Narration and Shared Themes.”  Bibliotheca Sacra  142 (April-June 1985):  130-41.  Available from OCLC First Search [http://­newfirstsearch.oclc.org/];  ATLAReligion, Internet, accessed 22 October 2006.

Miller, Max.  “Ancient Moab:  Still Largely Unknown.”  Biblical Archaeologist  60, (December 1997):  194-204.  Available from OCLC First Search [http://­newfirstsearch.oclc.org/];  ATLAReligion, Internet, accessed 16 October 2006.

Warner, Sean M.  “The Dating of the Period of the Judges.”  Vetus Testamentum  28 (October 1978) : 455-63.

Weinstein, Brian.  “Naomi’s Mission:  A Commentary on the Book of Ruth.”  Jewish Bible Quarterly  32 (January-March 2004):  46-50.  Available from GALILEO [http://­andromeda.­galib.­uga.edu/];  EBSCOhost; Internet; accessed 20 October 2006.

Wells, Newell W.  “Ruth and New Criticism.”  The Old Testament Student  3 (November 1883):  86-90.

Wolfenson, Louis B.  “The Character, Contents, and Date of Ruth.”  The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature  27 (July 1911) : 285-300.


----

[1] Babylonian Exile from 587 to 538 B.C.

[2] Bromiley, Geoffrey W., Everett F. Harrison, Roland K. Harrison, William S. LaSor, Gerald H. Wilson, and Edgar W. Smith, Jr., eds.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  Vol. 4, Q-Z.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988, 244.

[3] Campbell, Edward F., Jr.  The Anchor Bible.  Edited by William F. Albright and David N. Freedman.  Vol. 7, Ruth:  A New Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary.  Garden City:  Doubleday and Co., 1975, 9.

[4] Archer, Gleason L.  A Survey of Old Testament Introduction.  3d ed.  Chicago:  Moody Press, 1994, 307-308.

[5] Brueggemann, Walter.  An Introduction to the Old Testament:  The Canon and Christian Imagination.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, 320-321.

[6] Merrill, Eugene H.  “The Book of Ruth:  Narration and Shared Themes.”  Bibliotheca Sacra  142 (April-June 1985):  130-41.

[7] Glanzman, George S.  “The Origin and Date of the Book of Ruth.”  Catholic Biblical Quarterly  21 (April 1959):  201-7

[8] Wolfenson, Louis B.  “The Character, Contents, and Date of Ruth.”  The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature  27 (July 1911) : 285-300.

[9] MacDonald, William.  Believer’s Bible Commentary:  Old and New Testaments.  Edited by Arthur Farstad.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995, 233.

[10] Baylis, Charles P.  “Naomi in the Book of Ruth in Light of the Mosaic Covenant.”  Bibliotheca Sacra  161, (October-December 2004):  413-5.

[11] Warner, Sean M.  “The Dating of the Period of the Judges.”  Vetus Testamentum  28 (October 1978) : 455-63.

[12] Weinstein, Brian.  “Naomi’s Mission:  A Commentary on the Book of Ruth.”  Jewish Bible Quarterly  32 (January-March 2004):  46-50. 

[13] Ruth 1:1  KJV

[14] Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 239.

[15] Barker, Zondervan KJV Study Bible, 309.

[16] Warner, Sean M.  “The Dating of the Period of the Judges,” 463.

[17] Wells, Newell W.  “Ruth and New Criticism.”  The Old Testament Student  3 (November 1883):  86.

[18] Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  IV, 243.

[19] MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary:  Old and New Testaments, 288.

[20] Barker, Kenneth, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel, and Ronald Youngblood, eds.  Zondervan KJV Study Bible:  King James Version.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2002, 345.

[21] Archer.  A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 307-308.

[22] MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary:  Old and New Testaments, 288.

[23] Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  IV, 244.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Wolfenson, Louis B.  “The Character, Contents, and Date of Ruth,” 290-291.

[26] Ibid., 292-296.

[27] Campbell, The Anchor Bible, Vol. 7, 23-24.

[28] Ibid., 24.

[29] Ibid., 25-26.

[30] Ibid., 27-28.

[31] Ibid., 9.

[32] Brueggemann, Walter.  An Introduction to the Old Testament:  The Canon and Christian Imagination.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, 321.

[33] Glanzman, George S.  “The Origin and Date of the Book of Ruth,” 203.

[34] Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, III, 390.

[35] Ibid., 391.

[36] Ibid., 393.

[37] Miller, Max.  “Ancient Moab:  Still Largely Unknown.”  Biblical Archaeologist  60, (December 1997):  194.

[38] Archer.  A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 308.

[39] Miller, “Ancient Moab:  Still Largely Unknown.” 194.

[40] Ibid., 195.

[41] Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, IV, 243.

[42] Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, IV, 244.

[43] Genesis 13  KJV

[44] Genesis 19:30-38  KJV

[45] Deuteronomy 23:4-5  KJV.

[46] Weinstein, Brian.  “Naomi’s Mission:  A Commentary on the Book of Ruth,” 47.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Elwell, Walter A., ed.  “Ruth, Theology of.”  Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theol­ogy.  Grand Rapids:  Baker Academic, 1996.

[49] Campbell, Edward F., Jr.  The Anchor Bible, 5-6.

[50] Baylis, Charles P.  “Naomi in the Book of Ruth in Light of the Mosaic Covenant,” 413-5.

[51] Ibid., 419-421.

[52] Ibid., 426-430.

[53] Weinstein, “Naomi’s Mission:  A Commentary on the Book of Ruth,” 48.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Campbell, Edward F., Jr.  The Anchor Bible, 28-29.

[57] Ibid., 31.

[58] Merrill, Eugene H.  “The Book of Ruth:  Narration and Shared Themes,” 133.

[59] Ibid., 131.

[60] Ibid., 138.

[61] Ibid.

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