“All that you have done … has been fully told to me” the power of gossip and the story of Ruth

Esler, Philip F ORCID: 0000-0002-4889-4889 (2018) “All that you have done … has been fully told to me” the power of gossip and the story of Ruth. Journal of Biblical Literature, 137 (3). pp. 645-666. doi:10.15699/jbl.1373.2018.348544

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Abstract

The literary qualities of the Book of Ruth are a focus of considerable scholarly attention. The aim of this article is to contribute to this research with particular reference to what Boaz says to Ruth, “All that you have done … has been fully told to me” (2:11), where what he has learned has clearly been in Ruth’s favor. Boaz can only have gained such information through what we call gossip. I will first outline social-scientific research into gossip, which has already been fruitfully applied to various parts of the New Testament. Secondly, I will discuss informal networks among ancient Israelite women that feature in the way gossip functions in the narrative. Thirdly, I will apply these perspectives to the passages in the text that depend upon gossip’s occurrence. This exercise will substantiate the dictum of anthropologist Robert Paine that “gossip is a catalyst of social process,” by uncovering the remarkable extent to which character is developed, and the plot of the book propelled to its resolution, by gossip.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gossip; Jewish women; Bethlehem; Bible; Ruth; Boaz (Biblical figure)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education & Humanities > Religious, Philosophical and Historical Studies
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 15:29
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2020 04:15
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4955

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