The Old Testament book of Ruth is familiar to many, if not most, Christians. But it doesn’t have a large place in theological curricula. We suggest that this beloved book can provide very helpful opportunities to lead students to grasp God’s intentions for daily life and work as well as engage some major contemporary issues. Where else in the Bible do you find – in just four short chapters! – stories of:
- Border crossings to escape famine
- Cross-cultural marriages and inter-religious relationships
- Vulnerable widows struggling with life and faith in the face of death
- An immigrant among God’s people
- A solution to poverty that transcends welfare
- Protection against workplace sexual harassment
- Love, marriage and the astute management of complex family relationships and delicate business negotiations?
A two part article, Teaching the Old Testament: Ruth and Faithful Care, explains more about these themes and how they might be explored in class.
ASSIGNMENT: A biblical perspective on poverty reduction
- Explain how Boaz applied the Law given in Leviticus 19:9-10 and Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19-22, and Exodus 23:10-11 in the case of Ruth. To what degree did he fulfill the requirements of the Law? To what degree did he go beyond the requirements of the Law?
- Imagine you are proposing legislation to reform welfare in your State. What would be the main features of your proposal in the light of the Leviticus and Ruth passages?
Imagine that you own a company that employs a number of staff. What would you do to aid unemployed or underemployed people in the light of the Leviticus and Ruth passages and the need to make a profit?