There are less questions about the integrity of Ruth than for most Old Testament. Until the genealogical material in 4:17b & 18-22 one finds no signs of material of a different sort or style which might suggest a process of redactional composition.
The genealogy of 4:18ff. is like that in 1 Chron 2:4-15 (though this latter is fuller with names of other sons). It would however be foolhardy to guess whether one depends on the other (and in that case which is dependant) or if both use similar traditions. Often 18ff. has been seen as an addition inspired by the brief information given in 17b.
However, verse 17 is not without problems of its own. The study of biblical genres leads us to compare this account of the birth of Obed with other birth narratives in Gen, Jdg et 1 Sam. In these accounts a feature is made of the choice of name, thus Eissfeldt proposes that in view of the statement "a son has been born to Naomi" originally there would have been a name which fitted like Bennoam (son of grace). Following this argument Obed's name would have been an insertion, and so the list in verses 18ff. added afterwards.
This "addition" might have been inspired by the presence of the name Perez as an ancestor of Boaz in 4:12.
Given that this is just about the only suggestion of redactional activity in the book, apart from some highly speculative theories suggesting an original poetic tale as precursor of the present prose text, we can ignore such questions till we have studied the text and arrived at the end.
© Dr Tim Bulkeley, 2004.
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