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Showing posts from April, 2019

book review: Finding God in the Margins

Finding God in the Margins: The Book of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018. 116 pages.

I first heard Carolyn Custis James speak about the book of Ruth on a podcast (Seminary Dropout) and I immediately wanted to know more. More about Ruth. More about the cultural backdrop. More about what Custis James has learned in her many years of studying the text. This highly readable book did all of those things. It is meant to be used for personal or group study and includes reflection questions at the end of each chapter.

Custis James has done her homework; she provides important cultural and historical information, points out easily overlooked connections and contrasts, and makes an effort to relate the story to our contemporary context. The book has many good qualities. It is accessible as well as spiritually profound and informative without being overly academic or pedantic. She invites the reader to fill in the gaps of the story in an imaginative way, pulling u…


There are a lot of stories in the Bible which feature the number forty. In Genesis 7, forty days and nights of rain lead to a disastrous flood. After Moses killed a man, he fled Egypt and spent forty years in the wilderness of Moab tending flocks (Exodus 2, Acts 7) before his encounter with a burning bush. Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights before he received the decalogue (Exodus 24). When Moses descended from Mount Sinai, he found the people worshipping a golden calf. Moses then interceded on Israel's behalf for forty days and nights, pleading with YHWH to give them another chance (Deuteronomy 9).

When the Israelites arrived on the border of Canaan, looking for a new home, they sent twelve men to check out the land. The men's reconnaissance mission lasted forty days and nights (Numbers 13). Subsequently, the Israelites spent forty years camping in the wilderness before they finally settled in Canaan (Judges 13). Goliath, a giant warrior, taunted Saul's a…