Welcome to our new study of Ruth! There are so many captivating facets to the book of Ruth: it’s a snippet of Old Testament history, a beautiful romance, a demonstration of God’s love and value of women, a foreshadowing of Christ- our Redeemer. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be taking a look at all these treasures – and more – that God has for us to discover through Ruth’s story.
Let’s get started!
Introduction to the book of Ruth:
Before we begin studying a book of the Bible, it’s very important that we understand some things about that book. We need to know…
Who the author was and anything we might be able to find out about him or his background.
Who the audience of the book is: Jews or Gentiles? Old Testament Israelites or New Testament Christians? This will help us understand the author’s purpose and approach to what he’s writing.
What kind of biblical literature we’re looking at. We approach books of history differently than books of wisdom, books of wisdom differently than books of prophecy, etc.
What the purpose of the book is. Was it written to encourage? Rebuke? Warn?
What the historical backdrop is for the book. Is Israel at war? At peace? In exile? Under a bad king? Good king? Understanding the historical events surrounding a piece of writing help us understand what was written and why it was written.
When the book was written. Where does the book fall on the timeline of biblical history? This is especially important for Old Testament books which are not always arranged in chronological order.
So this week, before we start studying the actual text of the book of Ruth, we need to lay the foundation to understanding the book by finding the answers to these questions.
Read the following overviews of the book of Ruth, taking notes on anything that might aid your understanding of the book, and answer the questions below:
Bible Introductions: Ruth at Grace to You
Overview of the Book of Ruth at Reformed Answers
Book of Ruth at Got Questions
1. Who wrote the book of Ruth? Does the fact that we don’t definitively know the author’s name mean we can’t trust the biblicality of this book?
2. What is the approximate date Ruth was written? During what period of Israel’s history (kings, exile, judges, antediluvian, etc.) was Ruth written?
3. Considering the period of Israel’s history during which Ruth was written, who do you think is the intended audience of the book of Ruth? Why?
4. Which genre of biblical literature is the book of Ruth: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, or prophecy/apocalyptic? What does this this tell us about the approach we should take when studying this book versus our approach to books of other genres?
5. What is the theme or purpose of the book of Ruth?
6. Who are the main characters in the book of Ruth?
7. Where do the events in the book of Ruth take place? (Sometimes, a good Bible map like this one or this one can be helpful.)
8. What else did you learn about Ruth or the setting of this book that might help you understand the text of the book better?