The Ruth Project: Part 1


Seeds: From Another Garden

   i think this project actually began last November. Eva Etzioni-Halevy's novels in our local library may have been its genesis.

   Actually it was the not-Ruth novel, The Song of Hannah, that i read first. It upended all i had been taught about Hannah, Elkanah's the barren wife.  Wasn't she the first, older wife? And Peninnah the sharp-tongued, the second, younger wife, mother of Elkanah's children?

   Well, yes, to some of the assumptions. Peninnah has the children, she makes Hannah's life miserable (but maybe Hannah would've been miserable without Peninnah's needling? i can totally see Peninnah's "needling" as an attempt to say Hannah had the better lot in life.)

   Etzioni-Halevy's novel turns the situation on its head. She depicts Hannah, at her best friend Pninah's wedding, determining to also marry the attractive groom.

   The The Garden of Ruth had a similarly unsuspected premise: 

Faith scarcely showed up in this novel.  Ruth was not so much a worshipper of idols, as a woman led by her sexual impulses.

   i was intrigued.

   The idea for the project was born.
These words from the Gospel of John apply to all the events in the Bible. "...if they were written one by one, I suppose that not even the world itself would contain the books written."

The Fun Part: The Reading

   In the Bible, the book of Ruth covers three or four pages. There was much more to her life story, untold in the pages of Scripture, because those four pages/chapters tell us all God needed us to know about her.
   But we're human. We always want more.
a favorite quote, perhaps not strictly relevant
   Sometimes we need more, so that we can truly hear the message God has for us.
   A novel of Biblical fiction can be quite uplifting by itself. Ideally it will send you back to God's word with renewed interest and diligence to get into God's heart.
   For example, i may have been more mesmerized by Etzioni-Halevy's sexy novels of Ruth and Hannah than enjoying them, but they have a message of grace and self-improvement.
  The contains countless women who need to know their past is not keeping them from God.

  So, ARE any of these NOVELS true?

  In the same way that the Bible is true?
  But Ruth was a real person. Sometimes it's easy to forget that, in the sparseness of the text.
 Looking at other perspectives can help us keep their humanness in mind.
 How did other authors handle Ruth's story?
 As they taught us in school, a good reader begins with


  How did Ruth meet Elimelech's family? Why did the family choose wives for their sons from a forbidden nationality? For that matter, why did they move there anyway? There were Israelite tribes across the Jordan; shouldn't a good Israelite join them in his quest to feed his family? Who married the couple? Which son did she marry anyway? How did Ruth and her husband get along?
   What sort of people were Naomi and Orphah? How about Boaz? Had he been married before? Were there any kids?
   What did Ruth think of her reception in Bethlehem?
           Of Naomi's telling her friends that she'd returned alone?
 Huh? What is the loyal daughter in law, chopped liver?
           How about this levirate marriage/kinsman redeemer idea? It seems like she's being considered a commodity, the same as the field.
   And what happened in the field that night anyway?   Disney's made at least two movies about what happened after Cinderella's wedding.
  What happened after Ruth got her "happily ever after"?

My Project: Read all the novels about Ruth that i could easily get my hands on

The Novels of the Ruth Project:
The Foreigner, by Gladys Malvern, illus. by Corinne Malvern; 1951/2011
Ruth, A Novel, by Lois T. Henderson 1981
Lineage of Grace: Unshaken, by Francine Rivers 2001
Ruth: Mother of Kings, by Diana Wallis Taylor 2013
Garden of Ruth, by Eva Etzioni-Halevy 2007
          In the Field of Grace, by Tessa Afshar 2014

                                         to be continued....

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