2018 Top Shelf Book Cover Award Winner
The ancient book of Ruth speaks into today’s world with astonishing relevance.
In four short episodes we encounter refugees, undocumented immigrants, poverty, hunger, women’s rights, male power and privilege, discrimination, and injustice.
In Finding God in the Margins, Carolyn Custis James reveals how the book of Ruth is about God, the questions that surface when life falls apart, and how he reaches into the margins and chooses two totally marginalized women who in the eyes of the patriarchal culture are zeros.
Against the backdrop of disturbing issues we are facing today, this bracing narrative puts on display a radical gospel way of living together as human beings that shouts the Kingdom of God, foreshadows Jesus’ gospel, and raises the bar for women and for men then and now.
Those with keen eyes to see into the Bible's many richnesses are able to discover the depths of our humanity surrounded by the deep wells of God's grace. Finding God in the Margins is not for the faint of heart: this book will sideswipe you with admonishment when you least expect it and then turn a word of grace into redemption.
—Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
In Finding God in the Margins, James offers both women and men timely guidance for understanding and then living out the world-changing love of God. I’m grateful for the scholarship and the passion woven together in this book—and for the woman who has dedicated her life and work to speaking the truths that God-loving women and men need to hear.
—Lynne Hybels, advocate for global engagement, Willow Creek Community Church
This engaging, insightful book gives the beloved book of Ruth a fresh voice, a voice about three people inhabiting the margins in the past who experienced God’s wonderful, decisive work there. This is just the book to get people talking about Naomi (“the female Job”), Ruth, and Boaz as pointers toward God’s gracious, hope-inspiring, kingdom-advancing work in our conflicted context.
—Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., professor emeritus of Old Testament, North Park Theological Seminary; general editor of the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series
“Third, the Bible is not an American or Western book.” (Page 9)
“Second, this smaller story is framed within God’s greater story.” (Page 7)
“But a third, cosmic level is only recognizable from the vantage point of the New Testament and beyond, for God is working through the lives of ordinary and socially insignificant individuals to advance his purposes for the world.” (Page 4)
“Parallels between the book of Ruth and the book of Job are striking and further corroborate this interpretation. Both sufferers’ losses are catastrophic. Job loses his livestock, servants, children, and his health. Naomi endures famine, the life of a refugee, and the deaths of her husband and both her sons (Job 1:13–2:10; Ruth 1:1–5). It is a total wipeout for both sufferers, the only difference being that Job, as a man in a patriarchal culture, can eventually begin again. Not so Naomi, who, as a postmenopausal widow, is finished.” (Page 3)
“The story of Ruth takes place within a full-fledged patriarchal culture. Patriarchy is a social system that privileges men over women, where the actions of men command the focus, and women (with few exceptions) recede into the background. Under patriarchy, a woman derives her value from men—her father, husband, and especially her sons. Sons are patriarchy’s gold standard for determining the value of a woman. That standard of measurement has a devastating impact on both Naomi and Ruth, but we will not recognize the magnitude of that impact if we view their story through an American lens and ignore the patriarchal backdrop that intensifies the severity of the crisis they face and the terrible odds stacked against them.” (Page 9)
God’s Word is transformative. It is this conviction which gives the Transformative Word series its name and its unique character. Series Editor Craig G. Bartholomew has worked alongside authors from around the world to identify a key theme in each book of the Bible, and each volume provides careful Biblical exegesis centered on that gripping theme. The result is an engaging, accessible thematic exploration of a biblical book, poised to offer you new and refreshing insights.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
Carolyn Custis James (BA, Sociology, MA, Biblical Studies) speaks internationally at conferences, churches, colleges, and seminaries. An adjunct faculty member at Biblical Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Carolyn blogs at CarolynCustisJames.com. Her books include The Gospel of Ruth, Half the Church, and Malestrom. In 2013, Christianity Today named her one of 50 evangelical women to watch.
Felmar Roel Rap. Singco