Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Reader's Diary #314- The Good News Bible: The Book Of Ruth (FINISHED)

It has been said that the Book of Ruth was originally part of the Book of Judges. After reading Ruth, I wasn't surprised to see it removed and instead chosen to follow Judges. Whereas Judges was a violent gorefest, Ruth is much more subdued and even uplifting.

Ruth is one of two Moabite women who marry two Israelite brothers. After their husbands die, Ruth alone stays by her mother-in-law's side and ends up marrying one of her deceased husband's relatives. She goes on to worship the Israelite God and becomes part of the lineage that leads to King David (which many Christians believe leads to Jesus).

Ruth has been one of the more intriguing characters I've come across. While there are subtle hints that she should somehow be praised for for sticking by her mother-in-law (for instance, my version calls it "uncommon loyalty"), I found it a more than a little strange. Orpah, the other daughter-in-law,originally offers to stay but gives into the mother-in-law who recommends that they turn back. Honestly, I think most people would do the same and would choose to return to their biological families. To be fair, Orpah doesn't seem to be judged too harshly.

Like the short story I read yesterday, often what's not said is the most compelling of all. Was Ruth's decision to stay a mere case of loyalty, or had it something to do with her past, with her birth family perhaps? My suspicions- for right or for wrong- ended up drawing me more to her out of sympathy and so, when she remarries and finds prosperity among the Israelites and their God, I couldn't help but feel happy for her- even though it may have been based on the assumption of an unhappy upbringing that may have been false!


Chris said...

Sounds like a more inspiring story than all the murder and rape in the last one you reviewed.

John Mutford said...

Chris: There is a point when Ruth seems to be reduced to property:

"Boaz said, 'Very well, if you buy the field from Naomi, then you are also buying Ruth, the Moabite widow, so that the field will stay in the dead man's family.'"

But still far less offensive than Judges.

Anonymous said...

I'd always thought it was an odd choice on Ruth's part myself.

Lyle Lovett has a song called "Joshua Judges Ruth". That's how it reads in the title of contents. Nice little twisted sentence for titles, eh?

John Mutford said...

Carrie: That's a nifty little title isn't it? I've never heard it though. And I like the way you used "eh"- my Canadianese is rubbing off.