Ruth and Esther as Models for the Formation of God's People
Engaging Liberationist Critiques
The books of Ruth and Esther feature protagonists who are outsiders in their contexts: female, foreign, and a widow and orphan respectively. Traditional readings offer these characters as models for behavior in adversity; and women, homosexuals, and racial/ethnic minorities have often found comfort and empowerment in these narratives. However, according to liberationist critiques (feminist, womanist, postcolonial, queer), readers in socially marginalized groups and their realities are excluded by the dominant interpretations. Members of those groups can sometimes identify with Orpah or Vashti instead of Ruth or Esther. Attending to “redemption” as a theme in both biblical texts, and in the readers' social contexts, the chapter argues that readers must reclaim their own historical memories, thereby creating the possibility of communities that foster mutuality rather than dominance and provide a liberating opportunity even to the dominant interpreters of these texts.
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