SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.24 número2The role of historical-critical methodology in African Old Testament studiesWho were the Kenites? índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
Home Pagelista alfabética de periódicos  

Serviços Personalizados



Links relacionados

  • Em processo de indexaçãoCitado por Google
  • Em processo de indexaçãoSimilares em Google


Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.24 no.2 Pretoria  2011


Orpah and her interpreters: Evaluating the justifications for the traditional-stereotyped readings



Matthew Michael

ECWA Theological Seminary, kagoro





The traditional readings of the book of Ruth normally treat Orpah either in the semi-category of a villain or a full-fledged villain who turned her back on Naomi, monotheism, and the messianic lineage and hence disappeared from the sacred history into polytheism. In these traditional Jewish and Christian perspectives, the character Orpah is largely denied presence, importance or voice in the biblical text. This tendency primarily comes from the imposing ideological context of the book of Ruth as a royal story and the subsequent readings of this particular character within this ideological template or even further possible readings in canonical and ecclesiastical mappings. Taking sides with Orpah, this paper evaluates the various interpretative traditions by midrashic, feminist and conservative interpreters. It critiques the justifications for the traditional-stereotyped readings and notes the power dynamics involved in Orpah finding herself as a minority in the story of the most powerful royal family in Jewish history.



“Full text available only in PDF format”




Aschkenasy, Nehama. "Reading Ruth through a Bakhtinian Lens: The Carnivalesque in a Biblical Tale." Journal of Biblical Literature 127/3 (2007): 437-453.         [ Links ]

Baer, David A. and Robert P. Gordon. Pages 211-218 in New Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, vol. 2. Edited by Willem A. Van Gemeren. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997.         [ Links ]

Baldwin, Joyce G. "Ruth." Pages 277-283 in The New Bible Commentary. Edited by Donald Guthrie et al. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.         [ Links ]

Bar-Efrat, Shimon. Narrative Art in the Bible. London: T & T Clark, 2008.         [ Links ]

Beattie, Derek R. G. Jewish Exegesis of the Book of Ruth. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 2. Sheffield: JSOT, 1977.         [ Links ]

Berlin, Adele. "Characterization in Biblical Narrative: David's Wives." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 23 (1982): 69-85.         [ Links ]

_____. Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative. Sheffield: Almond, 1983.         [ Links ]

Berquist, Jon L. "Role Dedifferentiation in the Book of Ruth." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 57 (1993): 23-37.         [ Links ]

Boer, Roland. "Culture, Ethics and Identity in Reading Ruth: A Response to Donaldson, Dube, MicKinlay and Brenner." Pages 163-170 in Ruth and Esther: A Feminist Companion to the Bible. Edited by Athalya Brenner. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.         [ Links ]

Bush, Federic W. Ruth, Esther. Word Biblical Commentary 9. Texas: Word Publishers, 1996.         [ Links ]

Campbell, Edward F. "The Hebrew Short Story: A Study of Ruth." Pages 83-102 in A Light unto My Path. Old Testament Studies in Honor of Jacob M. Myers. Edited by Howard Bream, Ralph Heim, and Carey Moore. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1974.         [ Links ]

_____. Ruth: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1975.         [ Links ]

Carr, David M. Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.         [ Links ]

Clarke, Andrew D. "'Do not Judge who is Worthy and Unworthy': Clement's Warning not to Speculate about the Rich Young Man's Response (Mark 10. 17-31)." Journal for the Study of the New Testament 31 (2009): 447-468.         [ Links ]

Clines, David J. A. Interested Parties: The Ideology of Writers and Readers of the Hebrew Bible. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 205. Gender, Culture, Theory 1. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.         [ Links ]

Conway, Colleen M. "Speaking through Ambiguity: Minor Characters in the Fourth Gospel." Biblical Interpretation 10/3 (2002): 324-341.         [ Links ]

Davies, Philip R. Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox, 1998.         [ Links ]

De Waard, Jan and Eugene A. Nida, A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Ruth. Helps for Translators, 15. London: United Bible Societies, 1973.         [ Links ]

Donaldson, Laura. "The Sign of Orpah: Reading Ruth Through the Eyes of Natives." Pages 130-144 in Ruth and Esther: A Feminist Companion to the Bible. Edited by Athalya Brenner. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.         [ Links ]

Dube, Musa. "The Unpublished Letters from Orpah to Ruth." Pages 145-150 in Ruth and Esther: A Feminist Companion to the Bible. Edited by Athalya Brenner. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.         [ Links ]

Fowl, Stephen. "Text Don't Have Ideologies." Biblical Interpretation 2/1 (1995): 15-34.         [ Links ]

Gage, Warren A. "Ruth Upon the Threshing Floor and the Sin of Gibeah: A Biblical-Theological Study." Westminster Theological Journal 51/2 (1989): 369-375.         [ Links ]

Geller, Stephan A. "The God of the Covenant." Pages 273-319 in One God or Many? Concepts of Divinity in the Ancient World. Edited by Barbara N. Porter. Bethesda: CDL Press, 2000.         [ Links ]

Grossman, Jonathan. "'Gleaning among the Ears-'Gathering among the Sheaves': Characterizing the Image of the Supervising Boy (Ruth 2)." Journal of Biblical Literature 126/4 (2007): 703-716.         [ Links ]

Hall, Amy Laura. "Ruth's Resolve: What Jesus' Great-Grandmother May Teach about Bioethics and Care." Christian Bioethics 11 (2005): 35-50.         [ Links ]

Henry, Matthew. Zondervan Matthew Henry Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.         [ Links ]

Horsley, Richard A. "Submerged Biblical Histories and Imperial Biblical Studies." Pages 152-57 in The Postcolonial Bible. Edited by Rasiah S. Sugirtharajah. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.         [ Links ]

Howard, James M. "The Significance of Minor Characters in the Gospel of John." Bibliotheca Sacra 163 (2006): 63-78.         [ Links ]

Hubbard, Robert L. Jr., The Book of Ruth. New International Commentary of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.         [ Links ]

Kanyaro, Musimbi R. A. "Biblical Hermeneutics: Ancient Palestine and the Contemporary World." Review and Expositor 94/3 (1997): 363-377.         [ Links ]

Koehler, Ludwig and Walter Baumgartner, Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, vol. 1. Leiden: Brill, 2001.         [ Links ]

Knox, Bernard M. W. "Minor Tragedians." Pages 87-93 in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. Edited by Bernard M. W. Knox and Patricia E. Easterling, volume I of Part 2, Greek Drama. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1989.         [ Links ]

Lange, John P. Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical. Translated by Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1871.         [ Links ]

Lauren, Rebecca. "Why Orpah Returned Home and Ruth Stayed." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 24/2 (2008): 141-41.         [ Links ]

Lemche, Niels P. "Kings and Clients: On Loyalty between the Ruler and the Ruled in Ancient 'Israel.'" Semeia 66 (1994): 119-32.         [ Links ]

Levy, Shimon. The Bible as Theatre. UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2001.         [ Links ]

Luter, A. Boyd and Barry C. Davis, God Behind the Seen: Expositions of the Books of Ruth & Esther. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1995.         [ Links ]

McVann, Mark. "The 'Passion' of John the Baptist and Jesus Before Pilate: Mark's Warning about Kings and Governors." Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology 38 (2008): 152-157.         [ Links ]

Meir, Tamar. "Ruth: Midrash and Aggadah." No pages in Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia (2006). Cited 8 November 2008. Online:         [ Links ]

Morris, Leon. Ruth. Tyndale Old Testament and Commentaries. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1974.         [ Links ]

Nelson, Richard D. "Ideology, Geography, and the List of Minor Judges." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31/1 (2007): 347-364.         [ Links ]

Noll, Kurt I. "Was there Doctrinal Dissemination in Early Yahweh Religion?" Biblical Interpretation 16 (2008): 395-427.         [ Links ]

Phiri, Isabel Apawo. "Ruth." Pages 319-324 in African Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo. Nairobi, Kenya: WordAlive Publishers, 2006.         [ Links ]

Polak, Frank. Biblical Narrative: Aspects of Art and Design. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1994.         [ Links ]

Rainville, Lynn. "Locating the 'People without History' in Histories of Ancient Near East." Reviews of Anthropology 35 (2006): 37-59.         [ Links ]

Reinhartz, Adele. "Why Ask My Name?" Anonymity and Identity in Biblical Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.         [ Links ]

Reiss, Moshe. "Ruth and Naomi: Foremothers of David." Jewish Bible Quarterly 35/3 (2007): 192-197.         [ Links ]

Rhoads, David M., Joanna Dewey and Donald Michie. Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999.         [ Links ]

Scholes, Robert and Robert Kellogg, The Nature of Narrative. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966.         [ Links ]

Segal, Eliezer. From Sermon to Commentary: Expounding the Bible in Talmudic Babylonia. Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005.         [ Links ]

Segovia, Fernando F. "Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Biblical Studies." Pages 469-92 in Ethnicity and the Bible. Edited by Mark G. Brett. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2002.         [ Links ]

Simon, Uriel. "Minor Characters in Biblical Narrative." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 46 (1990): 11-19.         [ Links ]

Slotki, Judah J. "Ruth: Introduction and Commentary." Pages 35-65 in The Five Megilloth: Hebrew Text & English Translation with Introductions and Commentary. Edited by Abraham Cohen. London: Soncino Press, 1965.         [ Links ]

Sugirtharajah, Rasiah S. ed. Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006.         [ Links ]

Thompson, John A. and Elmer A. Martens, "bwv." Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol. 4, ed. Willem A. VanGemeren, 55-59Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997.         [ Links ]

Trible, Phyllis. "A Human Comedy." Pages 166-199 in God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978.         [ Links ]

Van der Toorn, Karel. Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2007.         [ Links ]

Van Wolde, Ellen. Ruth and Naomi. London: SCM, 1997.         [ Links ]

Westbrook, Raymond. "Patronage in the Ancient Near East." Journal of the Economic & Social History of the Orient 48/2 (2005): 210-233.         [ Links ]

Williams, Joel F. Other Followers of Jesus: Minor Characters as Major Figures in Mark's Gospel. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994.         [ Links ]

Zakovitch, Yair. Ruth: Introduction and Commentary. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1990.         [ Links ]

Zvi, Ehud Ben. "Introduction: Writing, Speeches, and the Prophetic Books - Setting an Agenda." Pages 6-16 in Writings and Speech in Israelite and Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy. Edited by Ehud Ben Zvi and Micahel H. Floyd. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000.         [ Links ]



Matthew Michael
Is the acting Academic Dean of ECWA Theological Seminary (ETSK)
P. M. B. 35, Kagoro, Kaduna State, Nigeria

Creative Commons License Todo o conteúdo deste periódico, exceto onde está identificado, está licenciado sob uma Licença Creative Commons