literary analysis of the book of ruth

Boaz is described as the one who redeems (גאל). However, when he reaches the lashes which “veiled a light,” it seems that he has surpassed all of his previous comments. Return with the Elixir: Ruth, as the Heroine, provides a son, Obed, for Naomi, thus giving life to Naomi. 14 Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 156. 26 Categories taken from Vogler, Writer’s Journey, passim. The action revolves around looking for the “missing piece” and restoring balance.38 The rescue consists of saving from a “death state.”39 Both Naomi and Ruth are in a “death state” in that they have no hope of provision or protection because they are widows and childless. The main purpose of the story is to protest the enforcement of the law forbidding … The story begins with a famine “in the days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1). General uses of the analysis of the book of Esther are discussed first, followed by more specific uses related to each of the six elements of narration/ fiction. While the family tragedy is surrounded by famine, Ruth and Naomi return to Bethlehem when the famine has been abated at the beginning of the barley harvest, clueing the reader in to the hope they have. 34 Helmer Ringgren, “גאל,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, rev. LITERARY ANALYSIS OF THE BOOK OF RUTH PART 2: ON THE ROAD Marc Chagall 1960 Ruth Naomi and Orpah 1Now it came to pass in the days … 35 Ruth finds shelter both in the wings of Yahweh (2:12) and in the covering of Boaz (3:9), further associating Boaz’s role with Yahweh’s role (Grant, “Validity of Pregeneric Plot Structure,” 203-04.). 2:11). of the following characters. While Ruth is the flat character who remains constant, Naomi presents a more complicated character of the Fallen Mentor. The book of Ruth itself, however, as is typical with much of the writing in Hebrew Scripture, does not explicitly indicate who the author is. The Hebrew uses the same term ילדfor sons to show in inclusio Naomi’s loss of sons to her regaining of a child. 32 Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, eds., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon, reprinted (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), 145. He lists segments of the common adventure as Departure (including the Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Supernatural Aid, The Crossing of the First Threshold, and the Belly of the Whale), the Initiation (i.e. 6 Edward F. Campbell, Ruth: A New Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary, The Anchor Bible, vol. Christopher Vogler further clarifies these categories as well as characterization and applies them to modern-day story telling (i.e. Ruth exhibits both the typical initiation and death-rebirth cycles of the mythic plots. the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for her 1988 classic, The Book of Ruth (Shufeldt). 41 This jabbed the original Jewish audience. B. Meeting with the Mentor: Herein lies the irony: Ruth’s meeting with the Mentor becomes her first test as a meeting with the Threshold Guardian (the one who attempts to barricade entrance into the first stage). ילד),symmetry (i.e. A short story set in the time of the Book of Judges, detailing how Ruth, a Moabite widow, finds a new husband.That new husband, as it turns out, is a relative of her mother-in-law Naomi's husband, and part of the lineage that would produce King David (and, according to … 4. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament use various forms to communicate, including story, music, and homiletics. Literary Analysis The central conceit of the poem “Ruth” is a romantic picture of a lady painted by Thomas Hood in such a way that she seems to be standing before our very eyes. The aim of this analysis is to consider aspects of the context in which the book of Genesis was written, such as its authorship, recipients, time period of historical events and composition, and its biblical context, which may be useful in understanding the book as a whole. Sure, I said, heaven did not mean, Where I reap thou shouldst but glean, Lay thy sheaf adown and come, Share my harvest and my home. “The artistic beauty of the Bible exists for the reader’s enjoyment and artistic enrichment. 2, trans. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament use various forms to communicate, including story, music, and homiletics. God is no respecter of persons (Rom. A very strange interpretation of the poem “Ruth” could be that it is a dedication from the poet to his mother, who managed to raise him and look after her mother-in-law without her husband who passed away several years prior. The purpose of this study is not to explore the book’s many intriguing literary angles, but to consider just its plot structure. When he reaches the fifth stanza, however, he immediately comes down from the height of sensuousness that he was about to reach, and starts praising the beauty and work of God, giving her what God has given to him. Refusal of the Call: While Ruth is set on going throughout, this stage is seen in Orpah, Ruth’s foil, who is discouraged by the Threshold Guardian and returns to Moab. Ultimately, it is about God and His loving-kindness to act as the Faithful Provider to His covenant people and to those who put their trust in Him for wholeness and salvation. H. Evan Runner and Elisabeth Wichers Runner (St. Catherines, Ontario: Paideia, 1977), 62. The universal monomyth contains four elements: romance and anti-romance, tragedy and comedy.10 These categories are evident in Old Testament stories: “In classical literature, and in the literature of the Old Testament itself, the existence of pregeneric [monomyth] plot structure is not only evident, but is intrinsically necessary to the development of that literature.”11Ruth, as a romance, displays the fulfillment of desire and, as a comedy, the upward movement from the unideal to the ideal. The timeline of this book is intertwined during the period of the Judges. 24 For the sake of ease, this musical takes Machlon as Ruth’s husband, although the biblical text never assigns which husband to which wife. From this, a plot structure can be derived. 37 Orpah provides the foil for Ruth’s character here. Orpah was more interested in her perceived well-being than in remaining loyal to her proper family ties (Deuteronomy 25:5 notes that a widow is not to remarry outside the family). In this case, God provides through the גאל, the kinsman redeemer who plays the part of the Messianic figure. The Call to Adventure: This occurs when the men Elimilech, Machlon, and Killion die and Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. The first chapter introduces Ruth’s sacrificial character. On a sub-level, this scene is the Call to Adventure for Boaz, who becomes the active Hero for the next few scenes. However, it is Ruth who plays the Heroine and saves Naomi. So and So, who refuses to redeem Ruth. In Ruth, the obstacles consist of Naomi attempting to dissuade Ruth from coming; Ruth approaching Boaz; and the potential kinsman with first rights. In the beginning she is known as the Moabitess. These same categories can be applied to other stories in the Bible to unveil the central message that God wishes to communicate, understood according to their appropriate genre. And her hat, with shady brim, Made her tressy forehead dim;— Thus she stood amid the stooks, Praising God with sweetest looks:—. Her character is united with Ruth’s in the beginning, but the shallowness of her commitment “dissolves” this union (Grant, “Validity of Pregeneric Plot Structure,” 206). While Naomi receives provision and blessing, Ruth is God’s instrument for this. Per the publisher, the series: It also allowed an appreciation for the beauty and complicity of the plot as unfolded by the author. 28 The musical makes use of the bread metaphor found in the biblical account. Many people think the title of the poem alludes to the Biblical Ruth, but the true inspiration of the poem was not this figure. The author was anonymous but some believe it was perhaps written by Samuel the prophet; however, it … 842. After the death of Ruth’s husband (as well as his brother and father), her mother-in-law, Naomi, decides to return to her hometown in Bethlehem. Ruth’s social status as not only a widow but as a Gentile Moabitess brought expectations of both a sinful and helpless character. 3. In fact, the final stanza throws light on the devotion of the speaker for this woman of God. Two key concepts in the book of Ruth can shed light on the themes of the book. The Road Back: This scene is also Boaz’s Ordeal stage as he speaks with Mr. The book begins with a famine but ends with plenty. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard, a B.A. This is embodied in the Mr. A presupposition of this study is that the book’s plot structure is comic/monomythic. The speaker praises the woman’s looks, her beauty, her face, her dress, and even her presence in the first four stanzas. Gow has gleaned the best from recent scholarship, although he might have made better use of several important recent studies ( e.g. Her beauty surpasses the environmental beauty, as her body is “clasped by the golden light of the morn” and her cheek has an “autumn flush.” The poet then comments on her hair and eyes. The Book of Ruth is another short story written in the interests of internationalism. Ideally the set should be presided over by a large tree that blooms at the wedding ceremony. 1 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Narrative” in Cracking Old Testament Codes: A Guide to Interpreting the Literary Genres of the Old Testament, ed. Boaz Acquires Right to be the Kinsman-Redeemer (4:1-12); V. Naomi’s Blessing (4:13-17)”23 This analysis fits within the overarching comedy ternary form from the ideal (understood by the audience) to the unideal experience (the deaths of Elimelech, Kilion and Machlon leaving their three widows helpless, unprotected, and unprovided for), and the journey back to the ideal (Ruth’s marriage to Boaz, which redeems both her and Naomi, and Ruth’s child, who carries Ruth’s husband’s name24 and guarantees Naomi’s future).25 Further, because the story of Ruth exhibits elements of mythic structure as analyzed by Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler, it is helpful to understand how Ruth fits this form.26. The Ordeal: Ruth’s Ordeal comes in the form of a marriage proposal to Boaz. The plot of any story revolves around overcoming obstacles. The objection to this kind of literary evaluation is not that it is condensed and offhanded, but that it is so simplistic that it gives a radically wrong impression of the work. 36 Chisholm From Exegesis to Exposition, 226. The narrator is a master at painting word pictures.”[6] While it can be argued that one purpose of the Book of Ruth is the historical and genealogical transition from the period of the Judges to the time of King David, the overarching purpose and theme of the book of Ruth is to demonstrate the providence and sovereignty of God. Loyal love. Also, regarding the confidence and beauty of their beloveds, this quote can be used: And her hat, with shady brim, Made her tressy forehead dim;— Thus she stood amid the stooks, Praising God with sweetest looks:—, Copyright © 2020 Literary Devices. However, because of her loyalty and desire for God, she plays a pivotal role in the storyline of the Bible, becoming the great-grandmother of King David! Her decision highlights Ruth’s sacrifice. 4:4-7), 3. The muse was from the Romantic period, described as working in the fields in the autumn season. “In an initiation story the hero undergoes a series of ordeals as he passes from ignorance and immaturity to social and spiritual adulthood.”21 Ruth’s character, while always exhibiting virtuous character, passes socially to the next level. That is, the content of a work of literature is presented in the form of a novel, play, short story, poem, and so forth…A working definition of literature, then, is that it is an interpretive presentation of experience in an artistic form.4. Fun and delight, pathos and violence, characterize the human portrayals; combined with the subtle divine dimension, the total effect is one of joy and seriousness together.”7 Ruth, in particular, displays artistry in the poetic prose of different speeches (i.e. Ruth’s vow to Naomi in 1:16-17),8 in word-play such as assonance and punning,9 and in the design of the story with its inclusios (i.e. Liberal critics date the book much In the beginning, Naomi worries about the lack of bread; she makes the announcement to Ruth and Orpah of her plan to return to Bethlehem while kneading bread (a hint of the hope she has in her return to Bethlehem); Ruth recognizes the provision of bread Boaz will bring with his agreement to marry her; finally, Naomi receives the announcement of Obed’s birth while taking a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven. The Hebrew short story uses “an artistic and elevated prose containing rhythmic elements which are poetic,” takes an interest in typical people, and seeks to both entertain and instruct.6 “Especially important: they look at ordinary events as being the scene of God’s subtly providential activity. The book of Ruth has been widely accepted as being a positive text for and about women in the Hebrew Bible. She lives with her mother May and for a while, her brother Matthew. However, as a comedy, there is rebirth in the end, literally in Ruth’s son that is considered Naomi’s, and figuratively in Naomi, who is redeemed. Module 3: Literary Analysis of Ruth 1-4 (100 points possible) Read Ruth 1-4 Observation (30 points): Observe how characters are portrayed in the book of Ruth, particularly through their speech and actions. There is no internal rhyme. For the Fallen Mentor (Naomi), who herself is journeying, this scene is the Resurrection of Naomi. The diction of the poem is figurative, with similes such as “In the midst of brown was born,/ Like red poppies grown with corn,” where the poet compares the beautiful red cheeks of Ruth to red poppies. Crossing the First Threshold: Ruth swears an oath to Naomi to remain loyal to her and returns with Naomi to Bethlehem. Pratt, He Gave Us Stories, 137-39 for categories of character revelation). Cf. When he hears her praise for God despite living in poverty, the poet immediately responds saying, “heaven did not mean, / where I reap thou shouldst glean,” and then offers her to “lay thy sheaf adown and come, / share my harvest and my home,” which is an extreme form of love, generosity, and large-heartedness. The women in the story act as a Greek chorus, noting Naomi’s return in the beginning and commenting in the end both on Yahweh’s provision for Naomi of a son and on Ruth’s loving-kindness (חסד), which furnished the vehicle for Yahweh’s blessing (ironically). It is not clear from any source whom the woman was, but several painters of a later period painted very beautiful paintings after they were inspired by this figure of Ruth. Ruth Discovers Potential Kinsman Redeemer (ch. The book of Ruth was written to provide a lovely example of the sovereignty and plan of God. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1975), 5. She has taught Bible at Robert M. Beren Hebrew Academy and given numerous classes at a wide-range of synagogues and Jewish educational institutions. This is the real beauty that he has understood through her physical beauty. The book of Ruth is set during the time when Israel was ruled by judges. - Contact Us - Privacy Policy - Terms and Conditions, Definition and Examples of Literary Terms, Speech: “Is this a dagger which I see before me, In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 27, Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments. In doing so, it is necessary to trace the action in terms of plot: “Correct interpretation of narratives depends in part on an appreciation of the plot as it marks out the beginning, middle, and end of both single and complex patterns and an appreciation of the pace of the narrative.”2 Further, the literary approach is able to appropriately appreciate the artistry of the Bible. Cf. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Ruth’s continued hard work in the fields wins her Allies in Boaz’s foreman and in Boaz himself. She stood breast high amid the corn, Clasped by the golden light of morn, Like the sweetheart of the sun, Who many a glowing kiss had won. Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey: The Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd ed. Ruth recognizes that her life is in Yahweh’s tree, and therefore seeks to join His people. 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