Contrastive Characterization in Ruth 1:6–22: Three Ways to Return from Exile

  • Timothy L Decker Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education (BRITE) & Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies Theological Seminary (IRBSTS)


By using the narrative device of contrastive characterization, the author of Ruth demonstrates three return-from-exile scenarios that act as a model for the audience. Orpah served as Ruth’s foil and represents a return to the pagan culture. Naomi and Ruth project a role reversal. While Naomi returns more like a pagan than a Jewess, Ruth has demonstrated covenant fidelity and illustrated loyalty to YHWH and Israel. She is thus a model for how Jews ought to return from exile to exodus.

Author Biography

Timothy L Decker, Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education (BRITE) & Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies Theological Seminary (IRBSTS)
Timothy L. Decker is an elder at Trinity Reformed Baptist Church in Boones Mill, VA, as well as an Associate Professor of New Testament at the Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education in Roanoke, VA and an Adjunct Lecturer of New Testament at IRBS Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Capital Seminary and Graduate School.


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