Reading 'Ruth' in the Restoration period : a call for inclusion
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This study considers the origin and purpose of Ruth and concludes that it is best to read the narrative as a call for an inclusive attitude toward any person, Jew or Gentile, who desired to join the Judean community in the Restoration period. In chapter one, I review the difficulties that scholars face in ascertaining Ruth’s place in Israel’s history, and I outline approaches that they have used to try to establish its purpose and origin. I discuss major interpretive positions, which date the book either to the monarchic period, to the exilic period, or to the Restoration period, and I articulate the format of my own study. In chapter two, I consider how the author of Ruth uses characterization to highlight Ruth, a Gentile outsider, and to criticize the Bethlehemite community. Only Boaz accepts Ruth, which leads to his participation in the line of David. In chapter three, I discuss how the author also magnifies Ruth’s character by comparing her with Israel’s ancestors. In these ways, Ruth demonstrates that an outsider can embody the ideals of the Restoration community and that they can also be a benefit to the nation. In chapters four and five, I examine arguments for dating Ruth to particular periods in Israel’s history. In chapter four, I consider efforts to date the language of Ruth as well as the legal practices that the story describes. I also discuss the narrative’s supposed congruence with the concerns of various social settings in Israel’s history. In chapter five, I draw on current research on refugee communities to see how the experiences of such people can help us understand the concerns of the Restoration community. In chapter six, I review my arguments for regarding Ruth as a call for inclusion in the Restoration period, and I consider how this conclusion should affect the field of Ruth studies as well as the wider field of Second Temple studies.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 16th August 2017
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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