An Ancient Story with Astonishing Relevance

The traditional interpretation of the book of Ruth is a beautiful love story between the eponymous Moabite and Boaz, the wealthy Israelite landowner. But this book is not a Disney movie. In her new book, Carolyn Custis James reveals a bracing, more relevant interpretation of this Old Testament book. In this excerpt from Finding God in the Margins, we see how this ancient narrative speaks directly into many of the problems facing society today.

Where the book of Ruth lands in the Bible is significant. In the Jewish Bible, the book of Ruth is located after the book of Proverbs as a beautiful example of wisdom living, a.k.a. living in the fear of God. In the Christian Bible, Ruth follows the book of Judges and precedes 1 Samuel. Viewed at the macro level, this narrative forms a sturdy bridge between the “years when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1) and the monarchy of King David (4:18–22). At the micro level the story centers on urgent family issues and Ruth’s reinterpretation of three Mosaic laws: gleaning, levirate, and kinsman-redeemer. Ruth lives on the hungry side of the law, so her perspective differs dramatically from Boaz’s. His willingness to listen to her (which is one of the jaw-dropping aspects of this story) moves him from the letter to the spirit of the law. As a result, a hungry widow is fed, and a dying family is rescued.

The original readers of the book of Ruth and people living at that time would notice what is happening in this story at both macro and micro levels. 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.

Framing the book of Ruth as a Job story brings this ancient narrative into the twenty-first century. Suddenly this is a story about the real world in which we live, where trouble often strikes unexpectedly and the God who has the power to prevent our sorrows doesn’t stop it. Naomi is voicing questions that come to us all. Suddenly her story and her questions belong to us too. We have a stake in how the book of Ruth plays out. The story that follows—the bold initiatives of Ruth and the astonishing responses of Boaz—will take us into uncharted territory, where this harmless-looking little story, like the red pill in the Matrix, will awaken us to a whole new world and a whole new way of being human that will reconfigure our lives and leave us longing for more. It will raise the bar for what it means to live in a fallen world as God’s child—as his image bearers. It presents a startling vision of the kingdom potency of male/female relationships and will inject rich hope, purpose, and significance into the veins of the most God-forsaken, hollowed-out human soul.

* * *

In his endorsement of Finding God in the Margins, Scot McKnight says, “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.” This new Transformative Word volume is now available in all formats. Discover a radical gospel way of living in the book of Ruth—get Finding God in the Margins today!

7 Key Elements of the Doctrine of Scripture

What are the key elements of the doctrine of Scripture?

While there is no official list, there is general consensus. This article simply summarizes them. It is not an attempt to wade into any debates, only to refresh our minds and point out helpful resources for further learning—including a new documentary on the authority of Scripture.

Here are those traditional categories succinctly stated, followed by brief commentary.

Inspiration: The linchpin of the doctrines of Scripture, inspiration means that all the words of Scripture are God’s words (2 Tim. 3:16). John Frame says that inspiration “means that God takes words of human beings and makes them his own…. [It] is a divine act creating an identity between a divine word and a human word” (Systematic Theology, 594).”

Authority: Because Scripture is God’s Word, it is authoritative. It carries the weight of God’s command as ruler over all creation. The Westminster Confession of Faith says in chapter 1, article 2, that Scripture is “given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life” (referencing Luke 16:29, 31; Eph. 2:20, Rev. 22:18–19; and 2 Tim. 3:16).

Infallibility: Because Scripture is God’s Word, and God cannot lie, Scripture is incapable of erring (Ps. 119:43, 142, 151, 160). God’s very nature is truth, so his word tells the truth. As Jesus says to the Father in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.”

Inerrancy: Closely related (and hotly debated), inerrancy traditionally holds that Scripture is free from error—or as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy puts it, “free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.” Stated positively, Scripture is completely truthful. Most people who deny inerrancy do so outright; naturally, non-Christians have no reason to confess inerrancy. But when Christians debate the topic, often they end up exploring the relationship between precision and truth. Does inerrancy require that the Bible speak with absolute precision about every detail? John Frame offers this wisdom: “[Scripture] has a level of precision sufficient for its own purposes, not for the purposes for which some readers might employ it.”

Clarity: In brief, Christians can make sense of Scripture. I like the way the Westminster Confession of Faith links clarity, sufficiency, and the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit. Article 6, chapter 1, has more to do with clarity, the assertions in article 7 with sufficiency (which we’ll tackle next):

  1. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: (2 Pet. 3:16) yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (Ps. 119:105, 130)

Sufficiency: In the words of John Frame, sufficiency means “Scripture contains all the divine words needed for any aspect of human life.” For example, Scripture is sufficient to reveal God, save, and teach one to live righteously (2 Tim 3:15–16). Again, the Westminster divines explain with wonderful precision and nuance:

  1. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. (2 Tim. 3:15–17, Gal. 1:8–9, 2 Thess. 2:2) Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: (John 6:45, 1 Cor 2:9–12) and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. (1 Cor. 11:13–14, 1 Cor. 14:26, 40)

Necessity: Related to sufficiency, but slightly different, this doctrine holds that “the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 116). This gets at the difference between special and general revelation. Scripture alone provides special revelation: knowledge of God’s will and salvation (Rom. 10:13–17, Acts 4:12).


If you found this article interesting, you may enjoy The God Who Speaks, a feature-length documentary on the nature of Scripture featuring D. A. Carson, Kevin DeYoung, the late R.C. Sproul, and over a dozen other scholars.

The Works of Kierkegaard Are Coming to Logos!

Father in heaven, when the thought of thee awakens in our soul, let it not waken as an agitated bird which flutters confusedly about, but as a child waking from sleep with a celestial smile.”

— Søren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard, the nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and theologian, is a misunderstood titan among Christian writers. Born to a pious Lutheran family in Copenhagen, Kierkegaard was raised in affluence—reading literature, attending plays, and rubbing elbows with cultured elites. By his twenties, Kierkegaard was moving down the same path as others in the upper echelons of Danish society. He attended the School of Civic Virtue where he learned the humanities and continued on to study theology at the University of Copenhagen. Eventually, Kierkegaard would meet a young lady named Regine Olsen and become engaged. All seemed well for the young student.

However, Kierkegaard eventually called off the engagement and turned to writing for solace in the wake of the failed romance. For the next two decades, he produced some of the greatest writings from the Danish Golden Age. Pondering ideas such as the ethical quandary of the sacrifice of Abraham’s son, what it means to despair, and the role of faith, Kierkegaard sought to expose cultural Christianity for what it is—a hollow version of the true thing.

For the first time ever, the Princeton edition of Kierkegaard’s Writings are coming to Logos. This version contains all of Kierkegaard’s works translated into modern English, including introductions and footnotes to help guide readers through the text. With Logos, studying Kierkegaard is easier than ever since texts are linked to Scripture references and other works in your library, allowing you to quickly compare the biblical text with Kierkegaard’s exposition.

For a limited time, Kierkegaard’s Writings are 50% off the retail price—only $399.99. Be sure to place your order today to lock in the lowest price.

Don’t wait—place your Pre-Pub order for Kierkegaard’s Writings today!

More Greek Word Studies from Logos

The response from last week’s video was so positive we’ve decided to send another Greek word study video your way. If you’re the type of Bible student that takes word studies to the next level, then this video is for you. In this week’s training, you will learn how to use two indispensable study tools, LSJ and TDNT. Together, these two resources will help you discover key references in Hellenistic literature and create an accurate historical sketch of how a term was used leading up to the time of the NT. Click the video to see how these tools work.

Recommended Resources:

What Was Jesus’ Tomb Really Like?

What would it have been like to step into the empty tomb on that first Easter morning?

This isn’t just idle speculation. When we take the time to understand the ancient culture and customs of the biblical world—when we reconstruct the world in which those stories took place—familiar biblical stories take on new life. And we can get a good sense of what that first Easter morning was like by exploring first-century tombs that are still around today.

We’ve put together a free, online, interactive experience that takes you inside a first-century tomb. Celebrated scholar Craig Evans is your tour guide in this fascinating glimpse at the biblical world. Follow him into the empty tomb, and renew your appreciation of the power of the Easter story.

[Read more…]

Good and Bad Goals for Studying New Testament Greek

You want to study New Testament Greek? I talked last week about good and bad motivations for the work. Now let’s get more practical and talk goals.

If you set unrealistic goals you’ll never arrive at them. You’ll get discouraged and give up, and you won’t want to try again. And if you set goals that are too low, you’ll be missing out on some Bible study riches.

So set the right goals. Let me suggest three goals you should not set, and three goals you should.
[Read more…]

Do Book Reviews Matter? Yes—to Most of Us.

Customer reviews. Whether we’re searching for a new cell phone or a good book to read on vacation, we all read the reviews before we buy. And in the case of Michael S. Heiser’s newest book, The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms, the comments are pretty tough to ignore.

One reviewer wrote, “Reading something by Michael Heiser is like having someone walk quietly into the room and tune in a radio that has been deafening you to distraction with static and interference.”
[Read more…]

All Deals Live, Save 60% on Champions

Celebrate your champions by getting them 60% off (and console the runners-up by snagging them at 57% off). The tournament is over, but the savings last all month, and they include all resources that competed in the tournament.

Commentary champion: NICOT/NICNT

New International Commentary on the Old and New Testaments—save 60%

This decades-long project has become recognized by scholars, pastors, and serious Bible students as a critical yet orthodox commentary marked by solid biblical scholarship within the evangelical Protestant tradition.

Each commentary opens with an introduction to the biblical book in question, looking especially at questions concerning its background, authorship, date, purpose, structure, and theology. A select bibliography also points readers to resources for their own study. The author’s own translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts forms the basis of the commentary proper. Verse-by-verse comments nicely balance the in-depth discussions of technical matters—such as textual criticism and critical problems—with exposition of the biblical writer’s theology and its implications for the life of faith today.

Save 60% on NICOT/NICNT.


Runner-up: Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised Edition (57% off)

Since 1976, pastors, teachers, and students have turned to the EBC for content they can trust. With two million copies sold, the award-winning legacy continues in 2012 with a complete, totally revised, and updated 13-volume set. This new series contains 60% new content and provides the most recent evangelical scholarship from world-class scholars including new contributors George Guthrie, John Walton, Andrew E. Hill, Eugene H. Merrill, Andreas Köstenberger, and more.

 Save 57% on the Expositor’s Bible Commentary.


Course champion: Old Testament Exegesis

Old Testament Exegesis: Understanding and Applying the Old Testament—60% off

The books of the Old Testament were the only Scriptures Jesus had. It was books like Genesis and Deuteronomy, Isaiah and Psalms that shaped Jesus’ upbringing and guided his life in ministry as the Jewish Messiah. This course will give you the tools you need to access the Old Testament’s meaning and then apply it to your life. It will help you to grow in reading God’s living Word for depth and not just distance.

Save 60% on Old Testament Exegesis.


Runner-up: New Testament Exegesis: Understanding and Applying the New Testament (57% off)

Explore the concepts of genre, theology, translation, and more to help you accurately unfold the New Testament.

Save 57% on New Testament Exegesis.


Thank you for participating in the Logos March Madness tournament, and please enjoy these rarely discounted resources.

Browse all sales from Logos March Madness, available now through March 31 at midnight (PST).

The Meaning of Multiple Rings in a Bible Word Study

I recently received the following scenario from a Logos user:

I’m studying a Greek word that is translated “walk” as in Ephesians 4:1. When I generate a Bible Word Study report for the Greek lemma I see all the ways the lemma is translated in my Bible. When I rest the cursor on one of the translations I see another ring. What’s the significance of this second ring?

Again another great question from a fellow Logos user. Let’s go through this scenario and we’ll discover what she’s referring to:
[Read more…]

Tortured for Christ: Free Ebook of the Month

It’s been five decades since Pastor Richard Wurmbrand stunned the world with his stories of persecution behind the Iron Curtain. With over 10 million copies in 60 languages, Tortured for Christ offers an inspiring true account of faith under fire that every Christian should read.

And this month, Wurmbrand’s classic is the Faithlife Ebooks Free Book of the Month. Add it to your library now.
[Read more…]