David, The Book Of Ruth, And Its Place In A Larger National Storyline -- By: J. Andrew Dearman

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 05:2 (Winter 2014)
Article: David, The Book Of Ruth, And Its Place In A Larger National Storyline
Author: J. Andrew Dearman

David, The Book Of Ruth,
And Its Place In A Larger National Storyline

J. Andrew Dearman

Fuller Theological Seminary


The purpose of this essay is to offer supporting data for the proposal that the composer(s) of the book of Ruth drew upon and alludes to a larger national storyline to show that YHWH was at work among David’s tribe and clan to bring forth his dynastic rule in Israel. On the one hand, the reception history of the book is congenial to a connection with the biblical figure of David, given the generations of Jews and Christians who have taken cues from its concluding genealogical formulae (4:17b; 4:18–22) to see the preceding narrative in light of Davidic rule, past and future.1 On the other hand, modern, historical-critical scholarship has largely concentrated on other matters of the book’s interpretation. There seem to be two related reasons for this. The first is that for decades concern for genre analysis of the book has been broadly influenced by a comment of Goethe2 and the pioneering form-critical analysis of Gunkel.3 Their comments are almost always noted by subsequent commentators and the book is commonly described by the

related terms “idyll,” “novella,” or “short story,” with a presenting problem to be overcome, and with certain characters who become positive role models. Within this genre-based approach David receives little attention, given that he is only noted at the end of the book and is not a character developed in it. There is, of course, much to be learned from this approach to the book and it does not, furthermore, deny the influence of traditions about David upon the perspective and preservation of the book, even if these traditions are not deemed primary to the crafting of the narrative as such.4

The second and related reason is a plausible literary judgment that the longer genealogical list in 4:18–22, which moves from Perez to David, is an addition to the novella or short story proper.5 Some interpreters have drawn a similar conclusion regarding the other explicit reference in the book to David (4:17b), namely, that it too is an editorial addition to an earlier narrative. Such judgments are wrapped up in discussions of the date of the boo...

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