Evidently "Ruth" is a narrative, but of what sort?
The category "history" does not fit, for Ruth shows no sign of dependence on archives or other documentary sources, the events described are private and not public, and the style is highly artful.
The contents and, up to a certain point, the style too fit with the category "family saga" but Ruth is too long and its episodes too closely integrated for this to really fit.
Nor however is Ruth a "legend", for there is nothing fabulous or miraculous here, and the characters do not have religious or political significance in the sort of sense usual for "legends".
Since Gunkel it has been noticed that Ruth is more comparable with the "novella" (novelle) a genre telling of everyday events with few characters, but at least some subplots, and sometimes quite complex plotting. Well rounded characterisation is also typical for the major actors in such novellas. The more artistic nature of these stories means that the author emerges more strongly distinctive than with most other types of OT narrative. Examples would be Esther, Judith, Tobit and Gen 24. Typically every event is the scene of divine action, though this is often implicit rather than explicit: e.g. Rt2:3 "she happened to come..."
© Dr Tim Bulkeley, 2004.
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