Women of the Bible: Ruth and Naomi

Yesterday was the third session of the Fall Reflection Series that Jennifer Wright and I are co-facilitating at the University of St. Thomas (on the Minneapolis campus) this year.  The theme for this five week series is Women of the Bible.

Yesterday’s subjects were the two women whose story is told in the Book of Ruth: Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.  Unlike the two pairs we considered in the first two segments of our series – Sarah and Hagar and Rachel and Leah, Ruth and Naomi present a model of a beautiful, graced relationship between two women.

In my talk I conveyed the basic story told in the Book of Ruth and then shared some of the interesting elements of the story, including the fact that Ruth  tells the story of the relationship between two women from their own perspective, that it is the only biblical text where the Hebrew word hesed, or “steadfast love” is used to define the relationship between two women, and that the story is actually quite subversive in casting a Moabite as the hero of a biblical story, one who ends up providing offspring who will be important to the future of the Israelites.

You can access a recording of the session here or stream it from the icon below. (The podcast runs for 23:20 and ends at the point at which I opened the session up for comments and questions by the participants.)

You can find a copy of the prayer materials we distributed to participants here.  It contains the text of the Book of Ruth, divided as Joan Chittister does in her book The Story of Ruth (which I reference in my talk), as well as some questions for reflection.