Ecodomy: Taking risks and overstepping boundaries in the Book of Ruth

Gerda De Villiers
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 3 | a1623 | DOI: | © 2017 Gerda De Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 April 2016 | Published: 06 October 2017

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Gerda De Villiers, Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This chapter examined the concept of ‘Ecodomy’ – life in its fullness – as it unfolds in the Book of Ruth. The book is dated to the post-exilic period in the history of Israel, and is read as narrative critique against the Moabite paragraph in Deuteronomy 23:3–5, and against the way that this text is interpreted and implemented in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Naomi, Ruth and Boaz, the protagonists in the narrative, become paradigmatic of the situation in post-exilic Israel. Their stories, dealing with loss and the actions they take in order to heal the brokenness become indicative for the post-exilic community. As the narrative plot develops, the chapter aims to indicate how ‘life in its emptiness’ is changed into ‘life in its fullness’ by the courage and creative initiative of individuals, even if it meant overstepping boundaries and challenging the social conventions of the time. Against the exclusivist policy of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Book of Ruth argues that foreigners may be included in the community of YHWH and that their solidarity with Israel is to the benefit of all the people. The point that the chapter wishes to make, is that life in its fullness cannot be taken for granted, but requires effort.


Book of Ruth; Ruth; Boaz; Naomi; life in its emptiness


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