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Finding God in the Margins: The Book of Ruth (Transformative Word)

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Finding God in the Margins

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.

Resource Experts

Praise for Finding God in the Margins

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

Top Highlights

“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)

The Transformative Word Series

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.


  • Introduction
  • Entering the World of Naomi and Ruth
  • Inconsolable
  • Undocumented!
  • The Power of Hesed
  • Restless in Bethlehem
  • Breaking the Rules for Naomi
  • The Manly Side of the Story
  • Better than Seven Sons

Product Details

  • Title: Finding God in the Margins: The Book of Ruth
  • Author: Carolyn Custis James
  • Series: Transformative Word
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Pages: 128
  • Format: Logos Digital, Paperback
  • Trim Size: 5x8
  • ISBN: 9781683590804
Carolyn Custis James is an author, speaker, and the founder of Synergy Women's Network. She is the author of several books on women in the church and is a consulting editor of Zondervan's Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament.

Sample Pages from Finding God in the Margins


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  1. Ken Snaith

    Ken Snaith


    I too have only read the sample pages. However I do find it very informative in where the author is coming from, and find the sample pages giving me ample information on the intention of the book, a new and very different look and I hope new discoveries of the book of Ruth. We live in a world that is more confused, disheartened than ever before, a world that seems to be taring itself apart which is only making more and more people to be marginalised, becoming refugees in their own land, and in host countries around the world, and we are talking not about thousands of people but millions of people. As a Christian, i try to be as Jesus like as I possibly can, Jesus always helped the marginalised and studying the Bible helps me to better understand God' love and desire for each one of us. I am going to buy this book because the sample pages leads me to believe I will learn a different point of view of the book of Ruth. One of the reasons I believe the Holy Bible is inspired and directed by God is its ability to help us to continue learning from it, and one of the ways we do this is by learning someone else's view point. Thats the whole point of having Commentaries, so we can learn other views people have, (its so very important to read a number of commentaries to get a balance of different thoughts) and then we can decide what we believe is right at the time. But as I learn more from my studies my belief and understanding of God' word changes and all this helps my FAITH GROW and that the whole point. So I do hope this book will give me a new understanding, I do not yet know if I will agree with what I read, but I will still learn from it, and if I do disagree with it, who is to say that down the road I will not change my mind. Our faith is a living, growing faith, if it wasn't then I doubt it would be real, rather just a religion to follow. I am not a learned man, I left school at 14 years old with no qualifications and a very poor reading skill, Can I take this opportunity to thank all at FaithLife for their work. The Logos bible software has helped me enormously, to much to share here, but I just want to say thank you, my academic skills, understanding God's Word and my faith have all grown beyond my wildest dreams.
  2. Felmar Roel Rap. Singco
    I hope this book does not politicise the holy Book of Ruth by adulterating it with modern controversial issues such as illegal immigration, open borders, and Islamist immigrants. Let us remember that during the time of Naomi and Ruth, the time when the Judges ruled Israel, nation states as political and legal concepts did not exist yet, and national boundaries were still porous and did not yet achieve its modern non porous equivalents. Be cause of that, in Israel and Moab at that time can not be said to have already existed various immigration laws that regulate the comings in and goings out of peoples. In stead, people just come and go to these lands and be twixt them, since borders were yet porous. The world is different now: we have nation states with fixed boundaries that are governed by inter national laws, and we have municipal as well as inter national immigration laws that are also in place to govern the movements of peoples from one state to an other. I would not use the holy Book of Ruth to make a political stand or create a theological stance that favours a bias for or against illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, open borders, and bans against Islamist refugees, modern issues over which clear cut laws and rules govern them in a non porous world where fixed boundaries do exist be twixt and amongst nations and nation states, and modern issues over which the sacred writer of the holy Book of Ruth never meant to write, prophesy, theologise, or opine about. Just my thoughts on these matters, and thanks for your audience regarding this.
  3. Larry Craig

    Larry Craig


    I read though the sample pages, and it ends with the author saying, lets' get started. Now that's the part I would want to read to know whether to buy this book. I want to see how the author treats the text. This is a commentary after all.


Print list price: $12.99
Save $4.00 (30%)