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Story Telling

on May 8, 2012

Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land…(Ruth 1:1, KJV)


        Ruth is one of my favorite books of the bible. Not just for the content, although I love the story too. But, rather, because it is a storyteller’s book. This is the best example in the Old Testament of the oral tradition of our faith.

Think about it. Before the days of the printing press and public education, access to written material was extremely limited and most people couldn’t have read it anyway. So how did they teach their children the important things in their history? By telling the stories over and over until they became a part of them. Think about your grandparents if you were privileged to have some to spend time with, or even your parents. Aren’t there stories from their lives that they have told you until you could recite them in your sleep?

To truly appreciate the book of Ruth imagine yourself sitting around a campfire or around a table at a feast. The village is gathered together and the storyteller is about to start. It is late evening. You have finished eating and are full and happy. The kids are still a little wiggly but they will settle once the story starts and the little ones will probably fall asleep. As the storyteller starts he get to the part that says, “And the name of the man was,” And he pauses. The older children who have heard this story many times by now fill in his name: Elimelech. And it continues through naming his wife and sons. This participation helps make them a part of the story.

Now to get the full effect, you need the King James Bible. I am not saying this translation is “better” or more accurate. It is just that the language flows so much nicer for this purpose. And it needs to be read out loud. If you aren’t good with the language in this translation, find someone who is to read it to you and don’t worry if you don’t know what all the words mean. You will discover that, somehow, the meaning becomes clear. I promise you, this is an amazing opportunity to put yourself back to where our faith began.  I hope you try it and that it speaks to you like it did to me.


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