Monday, May 22, 2017

Redeeming Grace and the Book of Ruth

By Michelle Ule 

I happened to pick up Jill Eileen Smith's Redeeming Grace: Ruth's Story, the same day I reached the book of Ruth in my Bible reading.

It made for an interesting companion as I examined the Scriptures and saw them written into dialogue in the historical novel!

Smith is an accomplished historian of ancient Biblical times and Redeeming Grace is an excellent example of how a novelist can bring insight into a well known tale.


While the book of Ruth is only four chapters long, Smith filled in the story with a plausible reason why Naomi and Elimelech traveled to Moab during a famine.

She presented a sad tale of Israelites who set aside their religious beliefs and married Moabite women and became part of the culture.

With scrupulous attention to research, Smith taught me a lot about the Moabites' religious beliefs. In so doing, she provided an explanation for the seeming hatred some felt for Ruth in the Biblical account.

As in any historical fiction, it's interesting to see the universal desires of the heart played out in a time long past.

I appreciated, too, her thoughts on Boaz and why he behaved the way he did.

Finally, I began to understand, too, elements of the Israelite worship at Shiloh, long before Jerusalem became the city of God.


As always with historical fiction, the reader must rely on the author's research.

I know Smith spends a lot of time reading anything she can get her hands on about the times and place she writes.

Redeeming Grace rang true to me.


Embroidering a plausible tale of the Bible's book of Ruth. Click to Tweet 

Backstory and insight into the book of Ruth: Redeeming Grace. Click to Tweet

Bestselling historical novelist Michelle Ule is the biographer of Mrs. Oswald Chambers, coming from Baker Books in October 2017.

For more about her and her writing--and to investigate the stories
behind the writing of the biography--visit her website at

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