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Teaching Ruth & Esther (Proclamation Trust)

By Christopher Ash
March 2019 | Review by Philip Eveson
  • Publisher: Christian Focus
  • ISBN: 1527100073
  • Pages: 288
  • Price: £8.99
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Book Review

This helpful aid for Bible study leaders and preachers will certainly remove any thought that these two very different Biblical books are strictly for ladies’ meetings. Boaz and Mordecai are shown to play as significant a part as Ruth and Esther.

This handy-sized resource does not claim to be a commentary, but it will certainly be a most useful guide to understanding the historical background, local customs and main thrust of the individual narratives. It does not skirt over some of the more difficult passages either. The author’s main concern is to show how these biblical books do not merely illustrate but foreshadow the gospel and find their fulfilment in Jesus Christ.

Three governing principles are presented to help the teacher and expositor. First, they are stories that include an introduction, a complication, a resolution and a conclusion. This is where the structure of each book is so important and Christopher Ash is at pains to deal with this before attempting to discuss their contents.

Second, they are true stories that are told, to bring out what the intentions of the writers are, rather than any fanciful ideas of the reader or teacher. To this end, there is a warning about the dangers of going too far in looking for good examples to follow or bad behaviour to avoid. The main focus should be on gospel rather than morality. In his comments on the text, the author often calls attention to possible wrong turnings, especially when he imagines the expositor is seeking to make the material relevant to the Bible study group or congregation.

The third principle is to make sure the movement is first from the main characters to Christ before applying the words to one’s own situation or that of others.

Every encouragement is given to preachers and teachers to retell the stories as faithfully yet as vividly as possible with no fanciful elaborations that go beyond what the text says. In fact the author himself does a good job in making the narrative come alive. Advice is given on structuring sermons, and questions are suggested for those leading Bible study groups. This is certainly a valuable publication.

Philip H Eveson

Wrexham

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