- consider why stories about men and women in the Bible are often dramatized as romances when this is not an explicit part of the stories in the texts
- prepare to contrast the texts and music with those in the next chapter, which focuses on settings of the Bible’s erotic poetry
The story of Ruth has been explored as a drama about the romance between Ruth and Boaz, yet there is little basis for that in the biblical text. The story told in the book of Ruth is much more about widowed women’s vulnerability in the time the story is set and the resourcefulness with which they cope with their challenging circumstances. It is also a story of loyalty, as Ruth, who is from Moab, accompanies her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to her homeland in Israel to not only worship her God but eventually become part of the history of her people as she ends up being among the ancestors of King David. There is probably also a message of inclusion that challenges what other parts of the Scriptures say, such asexcluding Moabites from the assembly of God’s people even to the tenth generation.
Ruth: Biblical Scenes; César Franck’s ; Lennox Berkeley’s Ruth; Ruth; and Ruth all have librettos that expand on the biblical text. Franz Waxman explored the story twice: in as well as The Story of Ruth. There is also an interesting by . Ruth is also included in Hagiographa, and Ruth and Naomi feature in Four Biblical Tableaux.
The story of Samson and Delilah provides a more promising basis for exploring romance, although the focus is on the antagonism between their two peoples, the Israelites and Philistines. Delilah is often depicted in misogynistic ways, being conformed to the type of the “femme fatale.” This is true in movies such as Samson and Delilah, , as well as operas such as ’s Samson et Dalila. There are also modern songs, such as (most famous in the ). It is due to patriarchal presuppositions that a powerful, independent, seductive woman tends to be evaluated or even prejudged negatively. There are several striking songs by female songwriters and vocalists about Samson sung from the perspective of Delilah or that at least take that as their starting point for a broader exploration of a romantic relationship. Listen to and also this written as a project in the class the author teaches at Butler University. There is also an , Samson by G. F. Handel. The chapters that follow on Song of Songs / Song of Solomon and Salome will explore other examples of romance in (or introduced into the elaboration of stories in) the Bible in conjunction with the musical treatment thereof.
Clanton, Dan W.. New York: T & T Clark/Continuum, 2009.
Fauquet, Joël-Marie. “Les Deux Versions De ‘Ruth’ (1845/1871). Essai D’interprétation D’un Double Succès.”45 (1991): 97–108.
Leneman, Helen,. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007.
Locke, Ralph P. “Constructing the Oriental ‘Other’: Saint-Saëns’s ‘Samson et Dalila.’”3, no. 3 (1991): 261–302.
Sallinger, E. “Saint-Saens’ ‘Other’: Orientalism in Samson et Dalila.” MA thesis, Duquesne University, 2010.
- This recording was provided to YouTube by NAXOS of America. ↵