James, The Gospel of Ruth

The Gospel of Ruth
Carolyn Custis James

Now at number 3 on Amazon’s top free Kindle book list is Carolyn Curtis James’s The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules (Zondervan, 2008), and Zondervan presently has the EPUB edition for free also. The book boasts favorable blurbs from Robert Gundry, Timothy George, and Karen Jobes. According to the Amazon product page, what James describes

isn’t the Ruth, the Naomi, or the Boaz we thought we knew. . . . Naomi is no longer regarded as a bitter, complaining woman, but as a courageous overcomer. A Female Job. Ruth (typically admired for her devotion to Naomi and her deference to Boaz) turns out to be a gutsy risk-taker and a powerful agent for change among God’s people. She lives outside the box, and her love for Yahweh and Naomi compels her to break the rules of social and religious convention at nearly every turn. Boaz, the Kinsman Redeemer, is repeatedly caught off-guard by Ruth’s initiatives. His partnership with her models the kind of male/female relationships that the gospel intends for all who follow Jesus. Carolyn James drills down deeper into the story where she uncovers in the Old Testament the same passionate, counter-cultural, rule-breaking gospel that Jesus modeled and taught his followers to pursue. Within this age-old story is a map to radical levels of love and sacrifice, combined with the message that God is counting on his daughters to build his kingdom.The Gospel of Ruth vests every woman’s life with kingdom purposes and frees us to embrace wholeheartedly God’s calling, regardless of our circumstances or season of life. This story of two women who have lost everything contains a profound message: God created women not to live in the shadowy margins of men or of the past, but to emerge as courageous activists for his kingdom.

It may be simple coincidence of language, but I wonder whether the main title, The Gospel of Ruth, might be something of a humorous, intertextual play on The Gospel of Truth, one of the finds at Nag Hammadi, which—rather wittily in view of James’s subtitle Loving God Enough to Break the Rules—offers the opinion that “this established truth is unchanging, unperturbed and completely beautiful. For this reason, do not take error too seriously.” Similarly, one might compare texts like Eccl 7:16; Acts 5:34–40, but like all good, intertextually suggestive (sub)titles, if it piques one’s interests, one should probably simply read the book to learn how the argument actually goes. 😉

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