Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ruth and Targum Ruth

Chris Brady is just coming to his presentations of Ruth in the traditions of the Targumim. He writes:

This paper is part of my larger work on Targum Ruth. This summer I will be presenting a paper at IOTS on the character of Boaz in Tg Ruth. But first, we need to consider how Boaz is presented in the biblical text.

It's very timely for me that Chris would write this now. Readers of this blog will know that I have been living with the text of Ruth for more than a year and I am just finishing my bootstrap exercise of hearing the grammar of Hebrew by reading Ruth letter by letter to see how each letter sounds in the story. I was, months ago, particularly struck by 'tet', a letter I have named as scorekeeper for the grammatical first eleven (a cricket metaphor). Tet occurs in the word gleaning and 25% of the uses of this word occur in chapter 2 of Ruth.

When I began reading Ruth, I did immediately notice that it was a story meant to be performed. I imagined sitting around a campfire to hear it. I am hoping to continue telling it as story. It is the first book I attempted to read in Hebrew without helps (it was a failure for me a year ago as I read chapter 1 - now I think I am up to about 50% able to read without helps). It needs to find its audience in this strange time where purpose, poverty, and social relationships are not heard as story.

See also this paper on the use of the scrolls in Jewish Liturgy - the fascinating history related to the canonical order of the 5 scrolls is much later than one might think.

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