How does one read the literature of a patriarchal society in a 21st century context? Where can one find good role models for girls and women in the Bible? All too often these questions are answered by presenting the answers given by patriarchal society and not by looking for liberating, examples. It is all too easy to let God's message of setting the captives free ring forth, but directed to a limited audience.
But Ruth and Esther provide strong counter-examples of women who had to struggle against the cultural norms in order to live and to do great things for their people. All too often these women are excluded from our studies or when included are portrayed as subordinate people.
But Dr. Bruce Epperly, pastor, father, grandfather, and theology sees them as women of agency and adventure, resourceful and proactive women in patriarchal cultures. But despite being subject to the apparently arbitrary decisions of males with authority, both women were agents in their destiny fulfilling their vocations in their particular culture.
If you are a Christian pastor or teacher, you owe it to those in your circle of influence to let them experience these two Bible books in new ways, to see them as liberating documents that let everyone know that God doesn't exclude them. From these women of agency and adventure, those who find themselves excluded from power can find encouragement to stand up and be the persons of agency and adventure that God created them to be, no matter what restrictions others have placed upon them.