Grant-Henderson's volume aims at uncovering those voices in the Hebrew Scriptures that became lost because other more dominant voices such as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Ezekiel captured center stage and offered a message from their almost exclusive perspective, failing "to make clear the status of the people to whom the proclamation is addressed" (pp. ix-x). The study includes an Introduction, six chapters, a bibliography, an appendix, and author, subject, and biblical text indices.
In her Introduction, Grant-Henderson lays out the task of the monograph: "to explore the diverse and even contradictory messages about foreigners . . ." (p. xvi). Omitting any discussion of the oracles against the nations, she chooses instead to focus on those passages and books within the Hebrew Scriptures that refer to foreigners as being acceptable within the worshiping community and within the community in general, and those texts that are not explicit about the status of the foreigner within the Israelite community. Texts considered include Ruth, Jonah, Isaiah 19, Isaiah 56-66, 1 Kgs 8:44, among others. Grant-Henderson contends that the offer of salvation is to all people.
The central topic of Chapter 1 is Isaiah 56:1-8. Grant-Henderson presents convincing evidence that this passage's message is distinct within the book of Isaiah and the Hebrew Scriptures as a whole. The theology of this text is unique insofar as it offers salvation to both eunuchs and foreigners who accept the covenant and who, in turn, are promised treatment equal to the Israelites. Grant-Henderson asserts that Trito-Isaiah's theological perspective, one based on justice and righteousness, breaks new ground and would have been considered "heretical" and "blasphemous" in the strict interpretation of the Law (p. 36). From her analysis of Isaiah 56:1-8, Grant-Henderson is able to draw four important conclusions that speak to a "new form of exhortation and promise" (p. 36): (1) "the justice and righteousness of God [is] extended to all people who keep the Sabbath and the covenant"; (2) "eunuchs are given a special hope quite contradictory to the Abrahamic promise"; (3) "everyone who is faithful is able to serve within the worshiping community"; and (4) "God will continue to seek and gather in others" (p. 36).
In Chapter 2, Grant-Henderson discusses Trito-Isaiah (chaps. 56-66) as a whole. She view Isaiah 56:1-8 as a prologue to this section of Isaiah and argues that Isaiah 56-66 was written probably around 400 BCE or later, that its structure is quite complex, and that it was shaped "as one piece of literature with a deliberate use of contradictory messages in order to challenge the strong messages of Ezra/Nehemiah and Ezekiel" (p. 62). Differing from the inclusive vision of Isaiah 56-66 is Isaiah 40-55 which Grant-Henderson explores in Chapter 3. She finds the majority of these texts are much more nationalistic with the exception of Isaiah 42:1-4 (6-7) which expresses a clear outreach to the Gentiles.
The focus shifts in Chapter 4 from Isaiah to Ruth to Jonah. Here Grant-Henderson points out that the book of Ruth is a reminder that foreigners were accepted into the Israelite community as exemplified by the character Ruth. The book of Jonah presents a similar yet different picture. Jonah, a Hebrew, finds himself in a foreign land—Nineveh—that experiences God's compassion because of its sincere act of repentance. Grant-Henderson views this story as demonstrative of God's universal salvation.
Switching from text analysis to a more technical word study, Grant-Henderson in Chapter 5 examines the use of the term "separate" as used in the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly in the books of Ezra/Nehemiah and Ezekiel. She discovers that "there is a clear policy of exclusion given by these writers" (p. 132). She engages the thought of a variety of scholars who suggest that the genesis of certain NT groups such as the Pharisees and Samaritans is to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Her analysis leads her to conclude that there is a clear intention in much of the Hebrew Scriptures to separate foreigners from Israelites.
In her final chapter, Grant-Henderson pulls together several points: that God is a universal God, that despite many exclusive voices, there are also some inclusive voices in the Hebrew Scriptures, the most important of all being Isaiah 56-66, and that the acceptance of foreign women into the Israelite community opens the door for foreigners to be included in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. She sees this latter point as a contemporary challenge facing the Church today, and here she reiterates the central point of her entire study: ". . . God wants to be in relationship with all people" (p. 141).
This remarkable volume, compressed in size yet detailed in analysis, looks at the Hebrew Scriptures from a new and bold perspective. Grant-Henderson's ability to uncover and retrieve important elements and voices within the Hebrew Scriptures that challenge dominant voices and perspectives opens wide the vision of God's plan of salvation and offers hope to those searching for a place at the table. Her research is rigorous, her arguments are cogent. I highly recommend this book for biblical scholars, students, and anyone else interested in discerning the heart and mind of God with regard to the divine plan of salvation.