Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Real Authors Write Responsibly

As many of you know, one of my criticisms of Debbie Maken is that she was a lawyer who wondered into a field for which she has no training. One of the problems with modern Christianity is that Christians today think that, as long as you can communicate well, you can write a book. There is no concern for the qualifications of any given writer. There is not even concern for the substance of what is written. This is especially true within books on relationships. Most of the foundations of modern relationship books are pragmatism and emotionalism. Anyone can go about something and find out if it works, and attach some emotionalism so that people will believe it. However, the ones who get published are the ones who can communicate it well.

Now, I am not saying that this is just a problem with people who are unqualified. Exegesis is hard. I remember this semester when I did my exegesis of Jeremiah 31:27-34, my head was hurting by the end of it because of the fact that I was trying to be so careful, examining the grammatical structure of each verse and its relation to the previous verses, and also looking up various viewpoints in scholarly commentaries of Jeremiah, and interacting with them. Because it is so hard, many people who are trained in exegesis refuse to use their training, and end up resorting to the same kinds of things mentioned about because it makes them more relevant, and their ideas tend to get lost in the social pragmatism of statistics and sociologists rather than Qal Perfects and adversative clauses.

However, when a person has no training in this area, and comes up with novel interpretations of specific passages, then there is a good chance that they are going to fall for the same kind of pragmatism, and then try to force it onto the text of scripture. We live in Christian culture that encourages people to write books and hold positions of teaching authority that are not adequately equipped to responsibly handle the word of God.

A case in point is Candace Watters. I was already aware of the fact that Candace Watters has strongly criticized John Piper, siding with Debbie Maken. Hence, she strongly supports Maken's ideas, and thus, relies on Maken heavily for her ideas on the issue of singleness.

I was reading the Boundless Blog the other day, and I happened to come across a post called Real Men Initiate. I thought it was sort of a funny title. Is there such a thing as a "fake" man? I read the article, and soon recognized that what was being said was that a person is not a "man" unless he initiates the relationship. Of course, my first thought was to ask where in the world the Biblical support for this is. However, someone quickly noted a counter-example. They asked about the book of Ruth, and how Ruth goes to Boaz at night, and thus, it was not Boaz who initiated the relationship but Ruth. Ted Slater quickly referenced an article by Candace Watters entitled Ruth Revisited.

The article starts off with a quotation of Debbie Maken. Hence, we were off on the wrong foot immediately. She begins her article by trying to argue that Ruth was an exceptional situation, and thus should not be considered relevant for today. She quotes Maken trying to argue from the fact that Ruth did not have much of a family agency to the conclusion that this makes the story exceptional. However, what relevence does that have to the discussion of whether or not someone can initiate? All that is required is two people and one initiator for the issue of initiation to become relevant. When you have this situation, either person could initiate. Not only that, but Debbie Maken offers no proof for her idea that this is exceptional, and only dogmatizes that somehow Naomi was not a "adequate covering with barganing power" without ever bothering to prove her assertion. She thinks that it is wrong because it makes her "vulnerable." Again, I have to ask, where is the proof of this? Why is it that we should accept Debbie Maken's standard that all methods that make a woman vulnerable are wrong? Indeed, marriage itself makes a woman vulnerable. What happens in a society of no fault divorce if a husband decides to divorce his wife, and forces her to raise multiple children on her own? Vulnerability is going to exist no matter where you are at in life. The very fact that we are in relationships means that there are going to be people who hurt us, and act very cruel. However, does that mean that women should have relationships with no one?????? Again, Debbie is not one to be consistent.
She also brings up the idea of the "kinsmen-redeemer" system. Now, there is some question as to whether or not the kinsmen-redeemer had any relation to the levirate law of Deuteronomy 25 [See Frederic W. Bush's commentary], but, again, even if it did, how is that even relevant to the issue of initiation? Notice that Boaz had to ask another man for permission to marry Ruth. That is the only thing it would add if we were to have that system today. Hence, again, this is totally irrelevant to the issue of initiation. As we will see later on, the text simply does not fit with Candace's theory, and thus she is trying to find any way around it so that she doesn't have to give up her "real men initiate" theory.

So, we start off by going to a discredited source like Debbie Maken rather than going to the Bible, and thus, we are going to get a lens through which everything in the book of Ruth will be read.

The main point of Candace's article is here:

In the original article I wrote:

Not content to just wait for Boaz to take notice of her, Ruth's mother-in-law encouraged her to place herself in Boaz's path. Ruth went to Boaz's threshing floor and covered herself with his cloak: That was the Old Testament way of saying "I'm available."

She made her intentions known — that she wanted to get married — and it worked. Not only did she get a husband, she got God's blessing and a baby named Obed who became the grandfather of King David and a direct ancestor of Jesus.

Whoa. Talk about omissions. It's not like Ruth's appearance at the threshing floor was the first time she and Boaz interacted. Early in the story we learn that when Boaz arrived at the field where the gleaners were working, he noticed her. "Whose young woman is that?" he asked. When he found out that she was "the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi," that she had asked to be allowed to glean with the poor, working diligently since morning "except for a short rest in the shelter," he was intrigued.

But he didn't stop there. He actually singled her out saying,

My daughter, listen to me. Don't go and glean in another field and don't go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.

Not only was it Boaz who initiated their first conversation, but what he said was significant. He was caring for her by providing for her physical needs for food and water as well as protecting her from harm at other, less honorable, men's hands.

Now it was Ruth's turn to respond. Ruth 2:10 says, "At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, 'Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me — a foreigner?'"

At this point, we get a look at Ruth's character. Verse 11 says,

Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband — how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."

Ruth's high character preceded her. Such that Boaz didn't just give her choice gleanings, water and protection, but he also blessed her. No small thing in Israelite culture.

Then, in a public gesture of provision, Boaz included Ruth in the afternoon meal, offering her bread and wine vinegar. She was the only one among the gleaners — those in poverty and foreigners who were permitted to pick up what was left behind in the fields — who was part of the mealtime invitation.

When Ruth relayed the day's events to her mother-in-law, sharing with her leftover bread from the meal and an abundance of grain, Naomi immediately recognized the high character of Boaz and his potential as a husband for Ruth. "Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!" she exclaimed.

Boaz was already husbanding Ruth, and Naomi recognized it. Contrary to what I originally wrote, Naomi was not encouraging Ruth to "go after" Boaz in a modern-day type pursuit. She was guiding Ruth to respond to what Boaz had already initiated. By the time Naomi told Ruth about the kinsman-redeemer system and asked her to go to Boaz at the threshing floor, she had every reason to believe Boaz would respond positively. Naomi said with confidence, "He will not rest until the matter is settled." How could she know this? Because she had evidence of his character.

This is no small oversight. In order to "pull a Ruth," you have to be dealing with a Boaz. And thankfully, with Steve, I was.

Now, this position is not held by any Hebrew scholar I am aware of, and there is a very good reason for this. It does violence to the context and intent of the author. The best place to start our analysis of chapter 2 in order to prove this is back at verse 1:

Now Naomi had a kinsmen of her husband, a man of great strength from the family of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz. [translation mine]

Now, there is some issue here as to how the text should be translated. Actually there is a textual varient, one belonging to the Ketib reading, and one belonging to the Qere reading. When the Masorites pointed the text of the Hebrew Bible, they gave some readings of the text which, although they were not written into the texts, were traditional readings of the text. In this case, the ketib [written] reading is [D"yUm. [meaning "acquaintance"] while the Qere [traditional] reading is [d:Am [meaning "relative"]. The problem is that Hebrew manuscripts are split on this. This is a very difficult textual varient for this reason alone. The interesting thing is that there are terms used later on that remove all doubt that Naomi and Boaz are related. For instance, Ruth 3:2 uses [d:Am, and there is no textual varient, bArq' is used in 2:20, and laeGO is used of Boaz's relation to Naomi and Ruth throughout the narrative. However, even this does not solve the issue, because that would be just the way a scribe would think. In textual criticism, the harder reading is always to be preferred over the easier reading, because scribes tended to modify harder readings thinking they were mistakes. To put it simply, there would be no reason for a scribe to change [d:Am to [D"yUm., but, because it does not "fit" with the rest of the narrative, it would make perfect sense for a scribe to change [D"yUm. to [d:Am to make it fit with the rest of the story, thinking that a mistake had been made in transmission.

However, even this does not solve the problem. The reason is that the w and the y are letters that are easily confused in manuscripts. If the scribe did not bring his w all of the way down to the bottom of the line, it could easily be confused with a y. Ellis Brotzman summarizes the difficulty with the varient, and then shows the significance of the varient:

The Letters w and y are susceptible to accidental confusion, but perhaps there is an intentional change here. The Qere may be a result of adapting the text of 2:1 and the related noun used in 3:2. This difference does have some bearing on exegesis. If the Ketib is original, the author used a general form to refer to Boaz in chapter 2, and then used a specific term to refer to him in chapter 3. If this was the case, it would serve to heighten the sense of climax with the more specific mention in Chapter 3. Reading with the Ketib does express a nuance that otherwise, if the Qere were original, would not [Brotzman, Ellis R. Old Testament Textual Criticism, a Practical Introduction. Baker Books. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1994. p.142].

However, it does seem a bit out of place. The author would seem to have no reason to hide the fact that Boaz was related to Naomi's husband since it would contribute nothing to the story. It also seems strange that an author would avoid mentioning that this is a relative. However, if the Qere reading is original it provides additional support for the traditional interpretation of this passage.

The real key to understanding this passage is a verse that Candace actually quoted, but did not stop to think of the implications of what she was quoting:

Boaz answered and said to her, "All that you have done for your mother in law after the death of your father and mother has surely been declared to me; that you forsook your father, your mother, and the land you knew, and went to a people you did not previously know before. [Ruth 2:11; translation mine]

Hence, we have the setting more clearly laid out. Boaz is a relative of her mother in law, and has done a great act of kindness for her in leaving her land and remaining with her.

The next point is that these fields were not exactly the safest places in the world. It would be easy for someone to rape a woman out in these fields [c.f. Deuteronomy 22:25-27], and we know that during this time the morality in Israel was on the decline [c.f. Judges 19]. Thus, Boaz, seeing her in this dangerious situation, and recognizing that Ruth was in danger endevoured to help her. Why would he do such a thing? Well, consider the kindness mentioned in the previous verses. Ruth has done something kind to help his relatives. Now, imagine that there is a woman who helps one of your family members in the way that Ruth helped her mother in law, and you see her in a dangerious situation like this. Would you not want to see that she is taken care of, and protected in such a dangerious situation? Wouldn't you want to see to it that she gets as much help as she can when she is working for her mother in law? Indeed, such would seem obvious even if you had no interest in marrying the girl at all. I would think that even a married man would want to do this if he is faithful to his family. Thus, this whole thing is simply a matter of Boaz looking after his family, and caring for those who help them.

This also appears to be something that is consistent with Boaz's character, as verse 20 indicates. If you are looking at a translation such as the NASB, this verse might not strike you has having much relevance to Boaz's character, but the grammar of the text says otherwise. As Robert Chisholm writes:

Some translate this statement, "May he (Boaz) be blessed by the Lord, who has not abandoned his kindness to the living and the dead." In this case, the antecedent of rv,a] would be immediately preceding "The LORD." However, this understanding of the construction is not accurate. The antecedent of rv,a] is Boaz, not the LORD. Elsewhere when rv,a] follows the blessing formula %WrB' (qal passive participle) + proper name/pronoun, it always introduces the reason the recipient of the blessing deserves a reward. (For this reason one could analyze rv,a] as a casual conjunction in this construction.) If rv,a] refers to the Lord here, then this verse, unlike others using the construction, gives no such reason for the recipient being blessed. Second Samuel 2:5. which provides the closest structural parallel to Ruth 2:20, supports this interpretation:

lwav-~[ ~kynda-~[ hzh dsxh ~tyf[ rva hwhyl ~ta ~ykrb, "May you (plural) be blest by the Lord, you who (plural)/because you (plural) have extended such kindness to your master Saul." Here rv,a] refers back to the second plural pronoun ~T,a;, "you," in the formula, as the second plural verb ~t,yfi[] indicates. Though hwhy is closer in proximity to rv,a], it is not the antecedent. The evidence suggests that Ruth 2:20 should be translated and interpreted as follows: "May he (Boaz) be blessed by the LORD, he who (i.e. Boaz)/because he (i.e. Boaz) has not abanded his kindness to the living and dead." [Chisholm, Robert B. Jr. From Exegesis to Exposition, a Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew. Baker Books. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1998. p.72].

Thus, this text states that it is well within the character of Boaz to "single someone out" to show kindness to people, and thus, Boaz's actions here should not be seen as something totally out of the ordinary.

We can tell that we are on the right track with our exegesis when we look at the fact that Boaz is called a laeGO in verse 20. Many people will argue that a laeGO was someone who bears the levirate obligation of Deuteronomy 25:5-10. However, not only is this in dispute, but almost all scholars [even those who believe that Boaz was under the levirate law] deny that this is the sense in which Naomi is using the term here. There are several reasons for this, but the first is that Naomi says that he is "one of our redeemers." Does this mean that there are multiple people who are under and obligation to marry Ruth? Not only that, but Naomi says, "he is one of our redeemers. Does that mean that Boaz was obligated to marry Naomi too? Thus, it is impossible to sustain the notion of the kinsmen-redeemer as a levirate throughout this text.

For our purposes, it is important to note that laeGO can refer to someone who redeems someone close to them from an oppressive situation. Frederic W. Bush discusses the meaning of this term in his commentary:

Naomi is using laeGO in a more general sense, that sense with which it is frequently used in reference to God's actions on behalf of his people. In this nontechnical sense, the idea of payment, prominent in the legal meaning, is not involved. David Daube (studies in Biblical Law, 40) has put it well:

"To buy back" is not a perfectly accurate translation of laeGO. It would be safer to translate "to take back," seeing that the word is as often as not employed where he who recovers makes no payment. The word simply denotes the rightful getting back of a person or object that had once belonged to one but had been lost.

In such usage it means "to deliver a member of one's kinship group (family, clan, tribe, or people) from evil of any kind." The evil involved may be general (e.g. all harm, Gen 48:16; distress of various kinds, Ps 107:2; even death and Sheol; Lam 3:53-58; see TDOT laeGO III. 1,2, 2:352-353), or it may be specific. [Bush, Frederic W. Ruth, Esther from The Word Biblical Commentary Series. Word Books Publisher. Dallas, Texas. 1996. p.137]

Thus, by using laeGO, Naomi is simply telling Ruth that Boaz is a man who looks after his people. He is a man who helped Ruth be able to glean in the fields without having to fear for her safety. He is a man who looked after Ruth because he respected the things that she did for one of his relatives, and cared for his family.

One of the worst parts of Candace's article is when she says:

When Ruth relayed the day's events to her mother-in-law, sharing with her leftover bread from the meal and an abundance of grain, Naomi immediately recognized the high character of Boaz and his potential as a husband for Ruth. "Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!" she exclaimed.

Boaz was already husbanding Ruth, and Naomi recognized it. Contrary to what I originally wrote, Naomi was not encouraging Ruth to "go after" Boaz in a modern-day type pursuit. She was guiding Ruth to respond to what Boaz had already initiated.

First of all, there is nothing in the term "take notice" that would be suggestive of any kind of attraction or marital interest on the part of Boaz. The Hebrew term is rk;n", and it simply means "to notice, recognize, acknowledge." A survey of several lexicons will bear this out:

2. recognize Gn 27:33; obj. a voice 1 s 26:17, panîm show consideration > partiality for someone Dt. 1:17; [Holladay, William L. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1988. p.238]

3. To know, acknowledge Dt 33:9 Is 63:16 Jb 24:17 34:25, to know about Ps 103:16 Jb 7:10; (not) to want to know, Jb 24:13, to acknowledge Da 11:39 (K. ryKih; Q. ryKiy;); Abs. to learn about, take notice of 2 S 3:36 [Kohler, Ludwig. Baumgartner, Ludwig. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament E.J. Brill. Leiden, New York. 1995. Volume 2. p.700]

1. regard, observe, esp. with a view to recognition, c. obj. cl., Gn 31:32 37:32 38:25; pay attention to, c. acc. pers. Ru 2:10; 2:19; acc. rei (of God) Jb 34:25; acc. rei om. 2 S 3:36; Åy subj. hb'Ajl. Á ryKia; !Ke Je 24:5 so will I regard the exiles ... for good; Antiochus subj. Dn 11:39; ~ynIP' ryKihi pay regard to (shew partiality, = Åp ynEP. af'n") Dt 1:17 16:19 ( jP'v.mi hJ'hi), Pr 24:23 28:21 [Brown, Francis. Driver, S.R. Briggs, Charles A. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Hendrickson Publishers. Peabody, Massachusetts. Tenth Printing. 2006. p.648 (emphasis mine)]

That is why several commentators translate this passage differently:

May he who acknowledged you be blessed. [Wilch, John R. Ruth from The Concordia Commentary Series. Concordia Publishing House. Saint Louis, Missouri. 2006. p. 240]

May the one who had regard for you be blessed. [Campbell, Edward F. Ruth, A New Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Commentary from the Anchor Bible Commentary Series. Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, New York. 1975. p.105-106]

Also, it must be noted that this word harkens back to 2:10, where Ruth uses the same term. Ruth says to Boaz, "How is it that I have found grace in your eyes that you regard me, when I am a foreigner." There is a word play going on here. The Hebrew word for "regard" [rk;n"] and the Hebrew word for foreigner [yrik.n"<] both have the same root [rkn]. Thus, when rk;n" is repeated by Naomi, it shows that she has inferred that Ruth has been the benefactor of someone. This shows a strong use of divine providence in God bringing Ruth and Naomi's relative together.

Now, if Naomi did not know what had happened, then how did she know that Ruth had been with someone? The answer is very simply the food left over from her meal, and the large amount of barley that she brought home, she naturally knew that no one could gather that much in a day. Edward Campbell discusses the amount in his commentary [pgs. 104-106]. He says that it was at most 47.5 lbs, and at least probably more like 29 lbs. 29 lbs. comes from the fact that an ephah is the "dry measure equivalent of a bat," and archaeology has uncovered a pot with the term "bat" written on it. The volume that Ruth would have gathered by this measurement was around 5.8 gallons. Campbell summarizes his position with a caution, but notice, he still says that we know that Ruth carried home a large amount:

In either case, we should heed Scott's double warning that the base of calculation is not certain, and that we do not know what variations developed throughout the Biblical period. The amount Ruth carried home was rather impressive for a gleaner, but we are not called upon to add to her list of virtues that she was as strong as an ox. At most, her load would have weighed 47.5 pounds, while Scott's calculations (which I prefer) would be about twenty-nine pounds [Campbell, p.104]

Also, the preposition K. might also have something do with emphasizing how much Ruth gleaned. Campbell writes:

17. About an aphah. The prepoition ke before 'ephah probably means "approximately," as it frequently does in the OT. A very attractive alternative has been proposed by S. Talmon, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 176 (December 1964), 33, in his study of the severnth century Yabneh-yam osctracon to which we have referred before. In this ostracon, a harvester in the forced-labor battalion seems to argue that he has delivered the exact amount of harvest required of him, using the preposition ke to indicate the exactitude, a so-called kaph veritatis. Talmon wonders whether the same meaning should be applied here: just an ephah. If so the emphasis would lie on the remarkable fact that Ruth had gleaned exactly an ephah, and would enhance our marveling at the way Ruth's fortune in hitting upon Boaz' field has paid off. That marveling is provoked, whichever alternative one chooses.

How then did Naomi know that she was with someone? It is as simple as her seeing the large amount of barley and the food that she had gotten from the meal with Boaz. After talking about how the word order harkens back to the pun that Ruth makes in 2:10, Campbell takes this up:

The unusual word order may have been selected to place emphasis on makkirek-surely the story-teller wants his audience to see that Naomi has used the same root (nkr) which Ruth used in 2:10. (See COMMENT.) This is a fine touch, and we should not assume that Ruth has given any answer to the questions asked by Naomi before Naomi pronounced the blessing. Naomi has not yet learned of the coincidence; the size of the gleaning is enough to call forth the first blessing [Campbell, pgs. 105-106]

Likewise, the Lutheran scholar John R. Wilch writes:

Knowing that no one under normal circumstances could have gathered that much in just one day, Naomi concluded instantly that Ruth must have received special favor, so she spontaniously cried out a blessing for the yet-unnamed benefactor [Wilch, p. 240]

Thus, I think it is sufficient to conclude that the actions of Boaz in Chapter two are meant, in their context, to be taken as actions of Boaz's faith. They are meant to show his care and concern for his family. Here are some of the top commentators on the book of Ruth, as well as a few others that I found useful, giving you these very same conclusions.

Boaz's reply constitutes the climax of the chapter. It now appears that Ruth is not so unknown to him after all. He has already heard of her. Some scholars use this feature to support the thesis that Boaz has long been interested in Ruth without letting her notice his infatuation. But that is hardly the author's purpose. In any case, Boaz is not so interested as to have done anything practical to help the two women whom he knows belong to Elimelech's family. The temsion is rather maintained by the question of whether Ruth can make him so interested that she and Naomi can gain a secure future in Bethlehem [Nielson, Kirsten. Ruth, A Commentary. from The Old Testament Library. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Kentucky 1997. p.59]

For reasons that were purposeful or otherwise, it is clear from Boaz's reply that he does not immediately respond to Ruth's overtures. Instead, he first offers a generious accolade to Ruth's deeds by way of explaining his orders to his men (verses 8-9). In the Genuinely moving words of verse 12, he leaves any further recompense to God. [Sasson, Jack M. Ruth, A New Translation with a Philiological Commentary and a Formalist-Folklorist Interpretation. Second Edition. Sheffield Academic Press. Sheffield, England. 1995. p. 52]

In sum, Boaz's kindness towards Ruth simply reciprocated hers toward Naomi. He was, indeed, a true son of Israel: He treated foreigners kindly because Israel itself knew the foreigner's life in Egypt. [Hubbard, Robert L. The Book of Ruth. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids, Michigan 1988. p. 165]

Realizing that the other farmers probably would not treat her as favorably, he insisted that she remain in his field and with his workers, thus under his care and his protection from abuse, both here and elsewhere. Boaz was not modivated by infatuation with a pretty girl, but by his faith in the Lord. As a pious Israelite, he desire to apply his law not strictly by the letter, but faithfully and magnanimously according to its purpose and spirit, namely, that the LORD's own grace and fidelity [ds,x,, hesed] would cause his people to treat others graciously [Wilch, p. 220]

Indeed, the conclusion to which the text forces us is that Boaz was a man of great character, and lived it out. It is because of this that God blessed him with a wonderful woman. I have said it before [but it bears repeating since the folks over at Thegiftofsingleness blog seem intent on misrepresenting us], but I must again say that I have no problems with a person pursuing marriage if they desire to be married, so long as that person recognizes that God is not obligated to cause their search to be successful, and that the Bible teaches that they are not to loathe their condition if God does not, indeed, cause their search to be successful. He is the Lord of your life, and the Bible says that it is he that supplies all of your needs [Philippians 4:19], and in fact, is the one who ordained that you search in the first place, just as he has ordained all things [Ephesians 1:11]. God ordains the ends as well as the means. However, we also need to recognize that God sometimes chooses not to use our pursuits, but, rather, sometimes he uses our simple faithfulness. Such was the case with Boaz. If we are faithful, things will always work out for good [Romans 8:28], whether we get married or not. We simply need to remain faithful.

I would not be remiss if I did not deal with Candace Watters' misuse of this passage on a practical level. Candace turns this passage on his head, and, rather than saying that it was his faith in God that cause him to do these things, she tries to make it appear that he is doing these things because he is being proactive in finding a spouse. That is the exact opposite of what this text is trying to say. Is it possible that Boaz was interested in Ruth? Yes, but, as one of the commentators I cited above says, it is only a thesis. That is, the text itself does not address it, because the whole point of the chapter is how Boaz was faithful to the Lord, and God rewarded him greatly.

The reason why Candace misses the point of this passage is twofold. First of all, Candace has adopted the position of Debbie Maken, even though other respected Christian scholars have rejected her position, such as John Piper and Andreas Kostenburger. Candace seems intent upon pursuing Maken's position to its logical conclusion, and it appears that this is a bias she brings to the text. We have to be aware of our presuppositions when we are doing exegesis, and that is something that, I believe, has just blindsided Candace with regards to this text.

The second point I would raise is that Candace is following Debbie Maken, and has no ability to test any of her claims. Candace, to my knowledge, does not know Biblical Hebrew, and knows very little Greek. Now, what I am not saying is that, in order to understand the message of the Bible, you must know Greek and Hebrew. No, that would be incorrect. However, I believe that you must know Greek and Hebrew if you are going to be put in a position of teaching over God's people. Whether Candace wants to admit it or not, she has been put in a teaching position. She has been put in a position in which there are people who look up to her for advice, and thus, in order to give Biblically faithful answers to specific texts in the Bible, and deal with issues such as this, one must be able to handle the text of the word of God with care. In other words, one must be responsible in handling of the word of God if one desires to be a teacher. One of the most scary passages in the whole Bible comes from the book of James:

James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment [NASB].

It is an amazing responsibility to be a teacher of God's word. Thus, I would think that a person who wants to be a minister or a Christian author needs to think long and hard about having to answer to God for mistakes that are made for simply not getting the backround necessary to handle the word of God with care. I am not saying that teachers need to get Phd's in New Testament Studies and Hebrew and Semitic Studies, but at least learning the basics of the morphology and interpretation of each of the languages so that they have the ability to further study in this area should be required for anyone who wants to sit in a position of leadership over God's people. In fact, to show just how much times have changed, the Puritans not only required that their pastors learn Greek and Hebrew, but they also required that they be able to engage in a debate in Greek and Hebrew!!!!!! In other words, the required complete speaking comprehension as well as reading and writing comprehension for anyone who would sit as a leader over their people. I wouldn't have much problem with the reading and writing part, but I am not sure I would be able to get by on the speaking part!!!!!!

The worse part of it is that Candace is coming out with a book on this topic soon. I really hope this is not going to be a similar situation to Debbie Maken coming out with a book when she made many horrible errors simply because she did not have the background necessary. However, given Candace's article on Ruth, it does not look good. I hope and pray that the people who are interested in this topic and do have the training necessary to know that what I am saying is true have advised Candace to not write this book. I don't think there is much we can do about it seeing as how the book comes out on the first of January. What we can do is pray that God would give the Christian church discernment to know that people must prepare for these kinds of ministries if they are going to do Biblically faithful ministry.


Songbird said...

Have you read Candice's articles "Pull the Ruth part one and two" before reading "Ruth Revised"? I suggest writing about "Pull the Ruth Pt.1 and 2" first before this one.

Songbird said...

Are you a complimentarian or a egalitarian in terms of romantic relationships between men and women? I personally don't fully agree with either side on certain areas. Have you read "Men and Women in the Church" by Dr. Sarah Sumner? It's pretty good.

RedKnight said...

Since my sister, Amy, does not have a google account, she asked me to post this reply to your blog. My sister is a student at a Church of God Bible college, studying to become a minister. These are her opinions, not mine. "First of all, scripture says it plainly. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and attains favor from the Lord." Prov.18:22 NAS
In the has true in brackets in front of wife,showing it can'y be just any woman.(Prov.19:14;31:10;12:4)
Notice the first five words of the verse.It says,"He who finds a wife",not,she who finds a husband.Another thing scripture says plainly is that the man is head over his wife.
"But I want you to understand that Christ is the heaed of every man,and the man is the head of the woman,and God is the head of Christ."(1 Cor.11:3)
The Amp.words it,"the head of a woman is her husband."
When a man won't take t5he initiative in relationship,it causes me to think he won't take the initiative in the marriage and be head over his wife.I can only pray that won't be the case.Also,it is possible the woman won't let him be head over her.Other verses I want to highlight in this chapter is 8&9.
'For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man. For indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's". NASB When the woman takes the initiative it makes it appear that she believes that man was created for her. As we can see from this scripture, and the Genesis account, that isn't the case. (Gen.2:18-23) Also if Adam had been a good head over Eve, the fall of man may not have been so great or had happened at all. (Gen 3) Notice in verse 6 of the chapter that Adam was with her. He could have spoken up and said, "Eve what are you doing? God said not to eat it. I told you that." At any point he could have refused the fruit and/or stopped his wife. But he let her lead, and be the head. And look at how great it cost not just him but all of us.Though this is just the start of women trying to be over men, and men letting them. Now I don't believe that a man should be a dictator, or treat his wife badly. They should work as a team, but he should have the final call. There may be times he may fall into trouble by not listening to his wife. But he needs to apologise, and try to correct his error. The wife shouldn't act superior when this happens, but say something to the effect of " I forgive you. We'll get this fixed together. Now I do believe strongly in women being friends with men. This gives the guy a chance to see if he is really interested in her, if he likes what he sees inwardly. Also it helps him feel more at ease, if and when he does ask her out. She also gets to see who he really is, and decide if she really does want to date him. What I have a problem with is girls asking the guy out, or telling him they'd like to get to know him. Good for you! Get to know him by going where he likes to go. But don't tell him. That to me would be taking the initiative, and as we just saw, goes against scripture." Well that's what Amy thinks. We both are fond of Sarah though. You are very fortunate to have met her, eventhough she had to get your attention, before you noticed her.;)

singlechristianman said...

Yet, redknight, the hebrew in the verse in Proverbs about "finding a wife" is the word "find" in the sense of coming upon something and finding it, not "finding" it because you went looking for it. Perhaps PC can help us out with a clearer exegesis of that.

I grant of course that pragmaticaly it is better when women feel pursued - but when will we see teaching from FoF that explicitly allows this without treating them as predators (e.g. having to go through some other man, again supposedly a "biblical" thing)


PuritanCalvinist said...

Hey Songbird,

Ya, I read both of them. She had the right idea in the first two, but completely read something into the text that wasn't there on this one. Is there anything imparticular that you are thinking that I missed in those two articles that would be relevant to what I wrote here?

As far as my perspective, I agree that men are to be the leaders, but I think there are a lot of unbiblical ideas that we have on what that means. I have been listening to the arguments for intiation, and it seems like there are some unwarranted assumptions, namely, that the terms "head" or "submission" have something to do with initiation. They simply do not.

Redknight [aka Jason],

Hey, how are you doing? I wanted to see you at Christmas, but we got there really late.

As for my comments on what Amy wrote, let me first of all say that Proverbs 18:22 is not talking about initiation or intention. The Hebrew term masa' does not have as its primary meaning some intention on the person who performs the action. It does not even require the meaning "to seek." Consider some of these other usages:

Genesis 4:15 So the LORD said to him, "Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding [masa'] him would slay him.

Obviously, we are not to believe that the giving of the mark was only for those who would attack him after they intentionally looked for him. It was also for protection against those who might accidentally find him, and attempt to kill him.

Genesis 37:32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, "We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or not."

Obviously, it would have been suicide to suggest that they had gone out looking for the coat. What reason would they have to go out looking for it when they didn't even know Joseph was coming?

Proverbs 6:31 But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house.

Is this text to suggest that only those poor thieves who are caught when someone seeks out to find them are to repay sevenfold?

Proverbs 6:33 Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out.

Are we to suggest that this person went out looking for wounds and dishonor?

Most every lexicon I am aware of will not say that masa' implies initiation.

Also, I am confused about how you are connecting the headship of man and the creation of man to initiation. Indeed, the term "head" definitely implies preminence, and authority, but it does not imply initiation. For instance:

Ezekiel 38:2-3 Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief [rosh] prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him 3 and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.

Obviously, he was not the initiating prince of Meshech and Tubal, as those cities had already been there for hundreds of before the existance of Gog and Magog.

Anyway, ya, God blessed me richly with Sarah, and I love her more and more each day. Planning weddings are hard though. We are praying for God's provision through it all.

God Bless,

Ted Slater said...

Adam, I read the following blog post and thought of you:

My impression is that you believe only biblical scholars and priests are qualified to correctly understand Scripture, something with which Tim Challies and other Reformed Christians seem to disagree.

You may want to leave a comment on that blog, noting that they're not qualified to speak of anything related to Scripture since they're not pursuing MAs in Old Testament and Semitic studies. You may also want to post a blog trashing these naive men for thinking it possible to understand Scripture, though they are not "credentialled."

RedKnight said...

Yes, maybe he should. When the blind lead the blind, they all fall into a ditch. One must be an authority in the subject he is commenting on. Or else why is his position any more valid than mine? Why would we even need ordained ministers, if we are all supposedly equally qualified to address matters of scripture? Thank you for informing us all about this irresponsible blog.

Ted Slater said...

RedKnight -- I'm disappointed that you have such a low view of Scripture, that you think that it can only serve those who are fluent in Greek and Hebrew.

I, on the other hand, agree with the Reformers, who insisted that the Bible be published in the language of the people, for they recognized that we laity are able to draw meaning from it.

Does the work of Bible translators, RedKnight, result in more harm being done, or more help being done? Is the ESV a satanic work, facilitating doctrinal error?

I confess that I'm not an expert. I would hope that people not consider me an expert. But I have learned a few things along the way that may be of some value to those a few years behind me.

RedKnight said...

The thing is however that the scriptures where not originaly written in English. Hebrew and Greek are linguisticly very different from English. English is a germanic language. I encourage all christians to learn Hebrew and/or at least Greek, in order to understand the complete meaning. The Bible can not be translated word for word into English. The best one can do is to interpret it. Even muslims require non-arab converts to learn arabic, instead of just relying on the vernacular. Arabic as well as Hebrew, as semitic languages, are quite dissimilar from germanic languages like English.

Ted Slater said...

An anarchist/socialist fluent in both ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek, whose understanding of God trumps mine because I only speak two languages (none of them ancient). You're remarkable, RedKnight.

I do appreciate your clarification of your low opinion of Scripture, how the process of making this apparently impotent document available to people who don't speak ancient Hebrew and Greek strips it of any significant meaning. You seem to share the same opinion as Adam.

God's Word is only understandable by the highly educated. Like Jesus' Apostles, for example.

RedKnight said...

What do my socio-political and/or socio-economic views have to do with anything? Actually I only speak one language fluently (English), and another unfluently (Spanish). Both Adam and I agree that the laity may only need to use use the vernacular. It's only the clergy which we feel should be able to understand the grammatical context, in order to establish a clear and accurate exegesis. It was against my better judgement to even check out Ted Slater's reply to my comment.I knew that at this point in an arguement a person always resorts to personal attacks. If Adam wishes to add anything he may. But I shall not be answering a fool according to his folly anymore in this thread.

Ted Slater said...

I agree, RedKnight, that the clergy "should be able to understand the grammatical context, in order to establish a clear and accurate exegesis." I emphatically concur that if a man has made pastoring his career, he should be appropriately educated for that role.

Just as I've studied various aspect of "communication" for years, pastors should be expected to have studied Scripture -- in its original languages -- for years. They should be fluent in them.

RedKnight -- I think there's been a misunderstanding that started with my first post. I concur that pastors and other "spiritual leaders" should know Scripture, and that the best and most responsible way for them to know such is to know it in its original languages.

I was getting the sense, perhaps mistakenly, that Adam (and you) were saying that anyone who references Scripture in their communication is unqualified to do so unless they know it in its original language.

I look to Scripture as the primary source of truth, and therefore reference it in what I write. My authors reference Scripture in what they write. I don't expect exegesis from Hebrew or Greek from my writers, though I do expect them to interpret Scripture in a manner consistent with sound, established doctrine. I'm Reformed, so that would be the position I come from.

Again, I was getting the impression that you and Adam were looking down on those who don't read Scripture in ancient Greek and Hebrew, and that those who only read it in English are simply unable to grasp a passage's true meaning and unqualified to speak on it.

I apologize for misunderstanding, and for building such a caustic argument against such a misunderstanding.