Bachelor of Arts
Cynthia R. Chapman
Book of Ruth, Genesis 38, Rewritten Bible, Post-exilic, Intermarriage
This paper examines the influence of Genesis 38 on the Book of Ruth. Both texts feature women—Tamar in Genesis 38 and Ruth in the Book of Ruth—whose extraordinary actions result in the preservation of King David’s descendants. While the Book of Ruth draws on many received traditions, its use of Genesis 38 has been underappreciated and not fully understood. To explore this, I identify similarities in the stories, as well as the likely political purpose and historical context of each text. I analyze the ancient practice of retelling biblical stories, and argue that evidence points to the Book of Ruth as a rewritten adaptation of Genesis 38 that advocated for intermarriage in Judean communities. The story was written as part of a larger tradition of post-exilic texts that use Genesis 38 as a basis for the debate on the legitimacy of intermarriage, which erupted under Ezra and Nehemiah during the Persian period.
Sacks, Rachel, "Fearless Foreign Women: Exploring Tamar and Ruth as Characters Within a Post-Exilic Debate on Intermarriage" (2017). Honors Papers. 209.