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Texts in Dialogue With Texts: Intertextuality in the Ruth and Tamar Narratives

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image of Biblical Interpretation

This article reflects upon intertextuality or the dialogue between texts. After a survey of various views of intertextuality, a procedure for studying the intertextual relationships between biblical texts is presented. An extensive study of the dialogue between the Ruth and Tamar narratives concludes the article. The large amount of shared semantic and narratological features in these stories enable the reader to discover how Ruth and Tamar turn out to be the instruments by which Judah, Naomi and Boaz perceive and attain knowledge. As foreigners they are able to confront the insiders and to hold a mirror up to their faces. But in both stories, Ruth and Tamar disappear at the end and become ellipses in their own stories. Tamar made Judah see, Ruth made Naomi change and Boaz become aware, but their revealing activities eventually lead to their own disappearance. The mirror intended to unveil the audience has lead to the emptying of the foreigners, who do not confront, but confirm the Judahite identity.


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