Return to Ruth: contents page


Ruth: Characters

A general introduction to characterisation is provided in the course introduction.

The central characters in this story comprise: 

Ruth, the eponymous heroine (who appears at 1:5 in the "Introduction" and is still present in 4:13); 
Naomi, her Mother-in-law (who from 1:2 to 4:17 in a sense surrounds Ruth and interestingly whose name appears 21 times to Ruth's 12 - though only once in chapter three, at 3:1); and 
Boaz, the most often mentioned male character (20 times, who appears in 2:1 and is still mentioned at 4:21). 

The Minor Characters appear here and there, for short periods only, and are clearly distinguished from these three.

Looking at where the names of these characters appear is interesting. Examine the charts and see what you can notice!
Where does each character's name appear most? Least?
Is the spread even?
Which is Boaz' chapter?
Which is Naomi's?
Which is Ruth's chapter? (I think she is different in this respect, why might this be?)
Ch 3 stands out, in what way and what might cause this?

Ch 1
Ch 2
Ch 3
Ch 4

© Dr Tim Bulkeley, 2004.

You may quote and use these study notes, subject to the usual provsions of fair use - like giving proper credit e.g.
Tim Bulkeley, "Ruth: Genre" in Study Notes on Ruth [downloaded today's date].

If you want to reproduce large sections you should contact Tim. (tim at

Tim teaches Hebrew Bible (First or Old Testament) at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and at Carey Baptist College his other sites include:
Amos - Postmodern Bible commentary
Study Notes on Jonah
Images of Archaeological Sites in Israel (Focusing on the Iron Age)