Campbell on the intent of characters in the Hebrew Bible

I thought I had mentioned this on Targuman before, but apparently not. In his commentary on Ruth Campbell asserts:

It is inherent in biblical thought generally that a person’s actions and words offer a true picture of the person’s character. Hebrew stories do not have characters with hidden motives and concealed agendas, or if they do, the audience is explicitly told about it.1

Certainly biblical characters are often devious and do have agendas and perhaps Campbell is right in saying that when they do the audience is allowed into the conspiracy. But I am far from convinced that this is “generally” true or that the audience is always, explicitly told about the motivations all biblical characters. Unfortunately Campbell doesn’t offer a great amount of evidence. I am curious what others think of this.

I should add that I am one of the first to say that it is nigh on impossible to discern an author’s intent thus it seems to me to be even more foolhardy an effort to discern a character’s motivation and intent (unless that has been revealed to us by the narrator, of course). This all has come up in reference to Ruth 2 and questioning why it was that Boaz waited until he met Ruth in the fields to “remember” his role as a (but not “the”) redeemer.

 
  1. Campbell, Edward F. Ruth. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: The Anchor Bible; Doubleday, 1975.

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