Carolyn Custis James writes a thought-provoking and challenging book about the well loved tale of Ruth. Traditionally the book is seen as a beautiful love story with its happily-ever-after ending between a submissive Ruth and Boaz as the Kinsman Redeemer. However as James explores this story further she discovers new insights about the women in this book. Custis James digs deeper into the characters of Ruth and Naomi and the decisions they made because of their faithfulness to God. This approach has made me stop in my tracks, look closely at the story and rethink my understanding of this book for today.
The book of Ruth is also the story of Naomi, beginning with her suffering and ending with her future. This was made possible not just because of the actions of Boaz but also because of the courageous rule breaking of Ruth and Naomi. Throughout this book Custis James attempts to answer the objective question, ‘Is God good for Women?’ She answers it by allowing the emergence of Naomi and Ruth as courageous activists for his Kingdom.
Written in an easy style it gives the reader fresh insights into this story. We still see Boaz as a hero and a redeemer and we also discover that Ruth and Naomi are redeemers too; James unpacks a story of equality and partnership. The women of God play a key role in this story, giving glimpses of how we can be courageous women for God today.
There is much to discuss in this book and the feminist maybe disappointed with the ending but I will not give that away. For some it will reveal new insights and challenge assumptions about Ruth, others may completely disagree. If you have ever read Kelly Minters bible study on Ruth, this is a very different understanding. What it does do and does well is provoke further thinking and discussion about Ruth and what we can learn as women in Gods kingdom today.
Jennie Fytche is a Parish Nurse Development worker in Lincolnshire and a trainer/lecturer.