Thursday, April 12, 2007

Be Back Soon(ish)

I'll be traveling for the next few days and won't have much time for blogging on the road. I had planned to do at least one more post (or even two) before taking off. But the best laid plans of mice and men . . .

Anyway, last Tuesday night's Old Testament class got into quite an interesting discussion about Ruth chapter 3. What exactly went on down at the threshing floor that night? The narrator of the story is clearly interested in characterizing both Ruth and Boaz as some of the finest people you'd ever meet. So it seems awfully strained to me that the same story-teller would depict them involved in something illicit.

Someone asked, But what would have been considered illicit in their situation? Good question. If there's some kind of intentional ambiguity in the way that the story is being told, I have to wonder why.

Got any thoughts about this? I'll try to check and publish responses as soon as I can.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I forgot who did the old Anchor Bible commentary on Ruth but they thought it was purposefully ambiguous. The Hebrew is ambiguous as the term itself is pretty ambiguous. Neged and is used other places to mean other things than feet (Isa 6).

I tend to agree with you. They are presented as trying to do everything right, why would it be any different here? However, this is during the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1) and the book of judges refers to this as the time when "everyone did as they saw fit." That might open the door for what we would see as impropriety but Boaz and the elders clearly recognize parts of the law (such as the shoe ceremony from Deut 25 and letting the poor harvest the edges of the field) so Boaz probably knew that such an encounter wouldn't be proper (although I don't know that Ruth would have understood that). I just wonder why he sent her out so secretly, unless he didn't want the other kinsman to find out about their meeting. He uses a pretty smart tactic with the kinsmen of bringing up the field without at first bringing up Naomi and Ruth and getting him to change his mind so maybe he didn't want to let the cat out of the bag too early. Who knows. When something could clearly go either way, I would tend to try not to view someone negatively.