Are Men Marginalized in Ruth?

I am now working on moving two papers I have presented on Boaz into (likely) a single article for submission to a journal to be named later. In re-reading my paper “Boaz Centrally Marginalized” it occurred to me that men as a whole are very deliberately moved to the edges of the book of Ruth. Consider these few points:

  • Is it really all about the women? Perhaps so.

    Elimelech, Machlon, and Chilion never speak, they just die, a key element of the story, but a silent one nonetheless.

  • Boaz reacts he never initiates. As I have argued in that paper, all of Boaz’s actions, even chapter 4, are reactions to the initiatives of Ruth.
  • The only other important male figure isn’t even given a name, he is simply ‏פְּלֹנִי אַלְמֹנִי, “so and so.”

There are a few other instances where men are given speech (the young men reporting to Boaz and the elders at the gate in chapter 4) but they are anonymous and without any depth or character.

At this point I have read many, many commentaries and articles on Ruth so perhaps someone has already said this and I have either missed it or assimilated it into my own thoughts. What do you think? Is Ruth far more women-centric than we have thought, are the men really marginalized? And are there others who have said this all before that I have missed?

 

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