The Catholic University of America

Final Examination of

Angela C. Rasmussen

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

 

Abstract 

The Book of Ruth for Children 

Director: David Bosworth, Ph.D.

Adaptations of the Bible for children have been made for centuries, claiming to meet the developmental needs of children while attending to cultural perceptions of what is appropriate for children to read.  They have received little scholarly attention. This dissertation examines one hundred English-language adaptations of the Book of Ruth published between 1980 and 2015 that are intended for children ages four to twelve. Scholars of children’s literature have observed several trends in the translation of children’s literature, three of which are used to analyze children’s Bible adaptations: cultural context adaptation accommodates elements of the text (e.g., vocabulary, literary forms, customs, etc.) from one culture to another; ideological manipulation modifies the text to suit cultural norms of appropriateness for children; finally, illustration interprets the story and emphasizes certain parts of the text by selecting them for illustration and by depicting them in a particular way.

 

Contemporary adaptations of the Book of Ruth tend to favor accessibility over appeal. Efforts to make the text more accessible to children include reducing and eliminating unusual vocabulary and proper names, the climax of the story during the threshing floor scene, references to suffering and theodicy, and allusions to other parts of the Bible. They often add content that passes on cultural values, such as work ethic, family loyalty, gender roles, and a beneficent God. The resulting storyline can be lacking in detail and plot elements, so that it is ultimately confusing or unengaging, rendering those efforts at making the Book of Ruth accessible to children irrelevant. There are exceptions, though, that show the potential of Bible adaptations for children. These retellings hold the reader’s interest by approaching the text from various perspectives, such as history, religious identity, cultural heritage, etc. They include features such as a narrative frame, inner monologues, historical details, intrabiblical connections, humor, and compelling artwork in their attempts to create child-centered adaptations of the Book of Ruth.
 
 
More about Rasmussen 
 
Angela Rasmussen is originally from Richland, WA and attended Northwest Christian University in Eugene, OR, where she received a B.A. in Intercultural Studies with a minor in Biblical Studies. After participating in a work abroad program in the UK, Angela spent two years volunteering as an AmeriCorps Vista in children’s literacy programs in Spokane, WA. She received an M.A. in Biblical Studies at CUA in 2013. During her time as a student at CUA, Angela spent two years working for Campus Ministry as the Graduate Assistant for DC Reads. She has also taught the following courses at CUA: Faith Seeking Understanding, Intro Old Testament, Intro New Testament, Letters of Paul, and Women in the Bible. More recently she has taught as an adjunct instructor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. Angela is married to Adam Rasmussen, who also received a Ph.D. in Theology at CUA, and she has two children, Audrey and Lucy.