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The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules
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The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  429 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Traditionally, the Book of Ruth is viewed as a beautiful love story between Ruth and Boaz. But if you dig deeper, you'll find startling revelations---that God makes much of broken lives, he calls men and women to serve him together, and he's counting on his daughters to build his kingdom.
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Published August 30th 2009 by Zondervan (first published February 1st 2008)
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Hannah
Carolyn Custis James has incredible things to say about the Book of Ruth. First she starts out by explaining that the hero of the story isn't Boaz, Naomi, or even Ruth. It is hesed- a Hebrew word for the incredible, self sacrificing love God has for his people. James says, "Whenever we study God's Word, our main quest is always to discover what He is telling us about himself." Through the Book of Ruth, she says, God is telling us of his ovewhelming love for women. Not only that, she says, but he ...more
Dalaina May
I am a missionary with a degree in intercultural studies and 20+ years of walking with the Lord, and this book literally took the legs out from beneath me as the author looked at the book of Ruth from a cultural standpoint (my favorite point she made was that Boaz must have been either married or a widower with sons to have the kind of standing in the community that he had. That changes things, doesn't it?).
Wow! Why haven't I heard this stuff before? I checked out the bibliography page, and thi
...more
Catbird
Aug 05, 2008 Catbird rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christian women
Recommended to Catbird by: Christy LaLonde
I loved her approach and study of the two principal characters of the Book of Ruth (Old Testament book of the Bible.); she addresses the sensitive topics of widowhood, infertility, poverty and social dependence unabashedly and with great insight. It was refreshing to read a take on Ruth that didn't smack of "Cinderella"; in fact, it was much more like Job.
However, Custis James' writing style didn't suit my taste. I felt that she spent too many words (chapters, even) telling me WHAT she was GOING
...more
Bonnie
I was prepared to love this book. The idea of taking the story from the perspective of Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi was one that intrigued me. I was hoping to pre-read this and pass it on as a book for a group at our church.

The beginning showed much promise and had me hooked. Unfortunately I found the chapters which talked about the plight of widows and barren women to be wordy. Once the original thought was brought home it was repeated and repeated and repeated without much new insight, which cau
...more
Dorothy Greco
The Old Testament book of Ruth is often reduced to an sentimental love story in which Ruth, a helpless widow, shamelessly pursues a wealthy older man (who spares her a life of countless sorrows), and provides her mother in law with a grandson. End of story. On we go to the book of 1 Samuel.

To read Carolyn Custis James’ perspective, The Gospel of Ruth, is to have that shallow interpretation shattered. Wonderfully shattered. And then reconstructed from the ground up. You won’t recognize this versi
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Anonna Coutee'
Fresh perspective about the relationship between Ruth, Naomi,and Boaz and their sacrifices for living out their purpose, even though they may not have had a clear idea of what it was. I raised my hand a couple of times as if in class and had heard a subject that touched home. Appears to be a very personal engagment by the author but insiteful. She turns the tables about about the heroism of Boaz and places the focus on the women and their roles. Encouraging if one doesn't feel like women have a ...more
Joy
A friend and my pastor read this book and strongly urged me to read it. I agree with the reviewer that she spent a lot of time telling the reader what she was going to tell us. I already knew about the plight of barren women and widows in the Old Testament although she did add a few insights. It was interesting at first and soon became VERY LONG. My husband was out of town and it was too easy to identify with how lost and alone a widow is, even in this day and age.

I appreciated that she explain
...more
Mercedes Cordero
Some books are just not for you. This one was not for me. I found myself rolling my eyes quite a few times, and just desperate to get to the end. At first I thought that my problem with it was that I just could not relate, couldn't walk in Naomi's and Ruth's widowed shoes, but no. My real problem is that I don't like how much the book dwells on the tragic life of a widow and a barren woman. Yes, I get it; it was awful, they were ostracized, cast aside, thought to be of no value, had no rights or ...more
Lillie
Often, we think of Ruth as a nice romantic story with Boaz as the hero, Ruth as the heroine, and Naomi as the matchmaker. In The Gospel of Ruth, Carolyn Custis James shows that God is the hero and that this book is a powerful example of the Gospel. Though readers tend to think of Naomi as an old, complaining woman, Custis James compares her to Job. In fact, she says, Naomi lost even more than Job. Though she didn't have the material possessions that Job did, she lost not only all her possessions ...more
Joanne
I've never paid much attention to the book of Ruth. Yeah, yeah, love story, David's grandfather, Jesus' great-great-something-grandfather, four pages, okay. Next? But we chose to read it in women's small group, so I got to spend some more time with it using this book as a guide.

James spends a *lot* of time on Ruth, unpacking cultural traditions of the day, and analyzing each character's motives and actions very very carefully. Her most interesting ideas are 1) seeing Naomi as a female Job figure
...more
Debbie Yacenda
"Is God good for women?" James found a strong positive answer during her research of the book of Ruth. Many view it as a simple love story. She views it as a vital turning point in history. And she convinced me. Naomi's suffering due to the loss of her husband and sons was greater than anything Job suffered. He still had his wife (such as she was) and even more important he was still a man in a culture where men routinely prayed, "Thanks, God, for not making me a woman." Women only had value wit ...more
Jenny Karraker
I really enjoyed this book about the story of Ruth from the Old Testament. The author James brought out some very different ideas and conclusions about this well-loved story that seem to be well-researched and documented, looking at the story in its true context, not an American fairy tale with a happy ending. I hadn't realized that the story is told from the point of view of Naomi, whom James paints not as a whining woman, but as a female Job. I hadn't realized the full implications of their pr ...more
Jennifer
In this book, author Carolyn James answered the question about whether God is good for women or not through the gospel of Ruth. She gave very engaging commentary about how God used Ruth and Naomi for his redemption purposes. This is a very entertaining book for both women and men, as men can learn a lot from Boaz's valor character. This is definitely a page-turner! It's also very insightful, because I really learned a lot about God's character, his heart for widows and the barren women, his powe ...more
Michelle Wegner
I loved this book on the Gospel of Ruth from the Bible. If I were naming a sub-title, I would call it, "Ruth: Not a Cinderella Story". In reading this book, I realized that so often we read it as a "happily ever after" story, with Ruth getting the guy and the baby in the end. I love how Carolyn Custis James so wonderfully describes the story of Ruth as a story of a fight for preservation, a fight for a family, a fight for the eternal souls of men and women. Ruth had the guts to do what was unthi ...more
Pam
I finished this book last week as a small group study for church. The book of Ruth is one of the shortest in the Bible, taking up 4 chapters in less than 2 pages. However, the author expands her analysis in 10 chapters. I felt that many chapters were a repeat of what was said in previous chapters so I became easily bored. I understand James' objective in emphasizing the role of women in God's kingdom as being unique and powerful but then she constantly compares Ruth to Job and Abraham, thus, con ...more
Crystal
Custis James has written a study worth reading and re-reading. This study of Ruth was everything I hoped it would be--deep, insightful, and delightful. Custis James brings out points in this unique book of the Bible that are new and unsettling and wonderful to consider, long after you've closed the book. I borrowed it from the public library to read, but I'm going to buy a copy for myself, because I want to re-read this work.
Emily
Very well written and interesting to read. I disagree with some of her content though. I don't view Ruth as a rule breaker but rather the one who was willing to actually follow the rules God set up, instead of ignore them as most did.
Rebecca
I thought this was a great look at the book of Ruth. I really appreciated James' emphasis on understanding the culture in order to fully understand God's message in a book that is too often passed off as the "biblical fairy tale" with little more substance. The importance of women and their role in God's kingdom are powerfully shown through the story of Ruth and Naomi. A fascinating book.
Crystal
Our first book club read! It really made me consider some different ways to read Ruth. I am not an emotional person and this really made me see the emotional side instead of just reading it as a factual account.
Andrew
A friend recommended this book to me and I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it. Written for average readers (as opposed to theologians or pastors), the author explores the book of Ruth in quite a new light. In the process she demonstrates that God uses those to whom society ascribes little or no value to accomplish his purposes in history. She also shows how the theme of God's hesed, a word that is difficult to define simple, resonates throughout the book. I felt like the author succeeds in ...more
Celine Parker
I absolutely loved this study of the Book of Ruth. It healed my feelings towards a woman's "place" in patriarchal society. Definitely recommend to any woman or man who wants to explore God's view and the value He places on women. Ms. James' examination and thought-provoking study definitely gave this already beautiful story much deeper meaning for me and my life...especially my feelings about voicing a different opinion, the possibilities of being championed by God and my male counterparts, and ...more
Judy
I have read this book in the Bible many times but now seeing it thru a totally different lens. What an eye opener. Perhaps the most important book in Old Testament! Loved it. Great insight.
Jenny Rose
I’ve heard that some approach this book cautiously, unsure of the “startling revelations.” Having grown up in the church, I took the book on more boldly, almost saying, “Startle me, I dare you.”

What I found was relief. The Gospel of Ruth is a refreshing and enlightening view of a small book that has been traditionally preached as a fairytale. I for one am tired of that approach and cannot relate. James shoes us the real Ruth—gutsy, courageous, and even a bit defiant. She has become my hero and m
...more
Joy Matteson
Such a great book that's a good mix of biblical commentary and personal interpretation of the book of Ruth. Ms. James takes a lot of assumptions about the book of Ruth and turns them on their heads--i.e., that Naomi was a whiner and a mean ol' woman, or that Ruth was a seducer and that she just needed a man and a baby to be happy. Her main questions she probes is simply this: Is God good for women? A great resource for women who long to know more about the book of Ruth.
Hilary
This is incredible. I've never found a study like it. This book turns the story of Ruth around, adding depth to what appears to be a nice little romance in the middle of the Old Testament and meaning to women's lives across the ages. She carefully teases out the nuances of each passage, the cultural meanings and the Biblical "literal", shows their relevance and then expands the explanation until you're amazed that so much can be contained in such a short book.
Sarah
My mom loaned my this book and at first I was not excited to read it because I expected the normal sappy romance story of Ruth that I have always heard. Custis over turns that story with a closer look at what really happened and how God used people with no power to do his work in the world. I could hardly put the book down. Custis doesn't shy away from hard questions; I loved this book and look forward to rereading it.
Beckimoody Moody
I was surprised at how good this was, and how much I learned. Ruth has always been one of those books of the Bible that I kind of skimmed through, assuming I already knew the story. There was a LOT in there I missed, and much of it explained the historical/cultural context in a way that made it much more relevant. This would be a wonderful book for a small group Bible study -- especially a women's group.
Kel
What a great book! Gives a solid affirmative to the question "Is God good for Women" using the book of Ruth as an exemplar. Provides insightful views of Ruth's biblical times as well as contemporary ones. It turns conventional wisdom about a woman's "place" in the work of the kingdom upside-down. Moves book of Ruth from a sweet romance to a vision of God's kingdom with men and women as partners, not foes.
Bethany
Somewhat academic. It really changed my perceptions on the entire book and drew some great conclusions to the Gospel story. I will never look at Ruth like a "Cinderella" story again. And it clearly defines Ruth's risk-taking role and how God uses women. My favorite part is near the end, where it talks about how strong women don't weaken the others (esp men) around them. I'll be thinking about this book for a while.
Norma
We covered this book in a small Bible study group and it touched on some part of each woman's life. It made the book of Ruth more alive and more relevant to women of our time. It did take alot of time with widows and barren women but that was the plight of the women in the story. Naomi found that God had never left her and Ruth never doubted that he was there.
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“Faith may want answers, but somehow it is able to survive without them.” 10 likes
“It doesn’t cause me to doubt God’s existence, but it does force me to admit there’s a lot about God I don’t understand.” 6 likes
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