Unceasing kindness : a Biblical theology of Ruth wasn’t what I was expecting. I love the story of Ruth and was hoping for more insights into the story. However, the authors, Peter Lau and Gregory Goswell, have taken a wider perspective and looked at the book in the context of the other Old Testament books.
In our Christian Bibles, based on the Greek ordering of the Old Testament, Ruth is located after Judges and before the books of Samuel. Since Ruth ends with David’s genealogy and Samuel introduces David, this arrangement shows us how God prepared the way for his ideal king.
Some Jewish canons put Ruth immediately after Proverbs as she provides the perfect example of a noble wife (Proverbs 31). Other commentators believe Ruth should be read alongside Ezra and Nehemiah. This is because of the difficulty with foreign wives being sent away in these books. The book of Ruth provides a fuller picture. Ruth is a Moabite who is accepted into Jewish society and this also touches on the theme of mission. Ruth has forsaken the gods of Moab and chosen to follow the God of Israel something we don’t see happening with the foreign wives in Ezra-Nehemiah.
The authors discuss other themes found in Ruth, such as redemption, kingship, kindness, wisdom, the hiddenness of God and human agency. The hiddenness of God is an interesting theme as God’s purposes and actions aren’t clearly annunciated in the book of Ruth. We only hear of God spoken about by the characters in the story. This is often how God works in our lives, too.
Kindness is an important theme in the story, not only Ruth’s kindness to Naomi but Naomi’s kindness to Ruth in Moab (or why would Ruth choose to go with her?). There is also Boaz’s kindness to both Ruth and Naomi and God’s kindness to all.
Overall, an interesting read but a bit heavy going and tedious at times.
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