Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

Canon, sex and gender in Theodoret of Cyrus’s exposition of LXX Ruth

Chris L. de Wet
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a7730 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7730 | © 2022 Chris L. de Wet | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 May 2022 | Published: 11 October 2022

About the author(s)

Chris L. de Wet, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Australian Lutheran College, University of Divinity, Adelaide, Australia


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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to examine Theodoret of Cyrus’s (ca. 393–ca. 457 CE) exposition of LXX Ruth, as found in his Questions on the Octateuch. At the centre of this analysis lies the question of what an early Christian author like Theodoret, who lives in a context where asceticism and sexual renunciation were quite popular (i.e. Christian Syria), does with a complicated text like Ruth, which contains so many explicit nuances about sex, procreation and marriage, as well as various gendered complexities. The article starts by examining briefly the canonisation history of Ruth in early Christianity and some of the main interpretative trends in readings of Ruth by other Christian authors. Then, Theodoret’s interpretation of Ruth is examined, focusing specifically on his Questions on Ruth. The purpose of Ruth as scripture, according to Theodoret, is first delineated, after which Theodoret’s approach to sex and gender in LXX Ruth is examined.

Contribution: This article argues that Theodoret transforms the story of Ruth into one that aligns with the moral-philosophical discourse related to sex, marriage and gender of his own time. Theodoret restructures Ruth androcentrically by placing Boaz, the masculine and virtuous male father-figure, at the centre of the story, while at the same time stripping Ruth of any possible agency she might have as a would-be temptress.


Keywords

Christian Syria; Theodoret of Cyrus; LXX Ruth; early Christian biblical interpretation; patristics; Ambrose

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