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Bringing “Fullness” to Naomi: Centripetal Nationalism in The Book of Ruth

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

Many interpretations of the Book of Ruth read the relationship between the Judean woman and her Moabitess daughter-in-law as the expression of an inclusive school of thought within Israel’s attempts to define itself. The foreigner, in this view, becomes accepted into the covenant people of God, demonstrating Israel’s multi-ethnic horizons and Yahweh’s universal concern. Yet this essay uncovers the presence of an ideological subtext undergirding the narrative: the nations, represented in the character of Ruth, are the means for Judah’s exaltation—an ideological position that I expose through a literary reading of the narrative. This reading has concomitant implications for the book’s Sitz-im-Leben. This article focuses primarily on two episodes in the narrative, 3:14-18 and 4:13-17, exposing the underlying centripetal ideology that anticipates the restoration and exaltation of Judah through the gifts (or “fullness”) brought in by the nations.

Affiliations: 1: Baylor University Waco, TX, Email:


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