My Top Six OT Commentaries: Ruth (Dr. Jennifer M. Matheny)

My Top Six OT Commentaries: Ruth (Dr. Jennifer M. Matheny) September 10, 2021

Today’s guest post comes from Dr. Jennifer M. Matheny (Nazarene Theological Seminary). Matheny has published numerous academic essays on Ruth and recently wrote “Ruth in Recent Research” for Currents in Biblical Research. So happy she could lend her expertise on Ruth commentaries.

(If you want to look back at earlier posts in this series, check out this index)


Robert  L. Hubbard  Jr. (NICOT):

Hubbard’s volume on Ruth is an enduring classic. It is well written with careful attention to lexical details, canonicity, historical background, literary analysis, themes, and theological interpretations of the book of Ruth.

This commentary has been a staple in my research. I told Bob [Hubbard] his commentary was my ‘bread and butter’ while writing my dissertation!

Jeremy Schipper (AB)

Schipper offers a new translation of Ruth, attentive to linguistic and literary features, historical background, and reception history. Some critical topics in biblical studies addressed in this commentary include ethnicity, exogamy, gender, ability/disability, power dynamics, impoverishment, divine activity, and sexual desire.


Kandy Queen-Sutherland (Smyth & Helwys)

This commentary is beautifully written and well organized with a methodological focus on intertextuality. The introduction gives attention to Ruth and Esther in the Megillot, text-critical issues, possible genre designations, and details its canonical history. This commentary highlights connections with indigenous readings of Ruth, along with Ruth’s reception history in film, literature, and art.

Daniel Hawk (Apollos)

Hawk addresses important topics such as genre, ethnicity, exogamy, gender, social class, and sexual ambiguity, composition of the text, and the theology of Ruth. One of the main strengths of this volume is Hawk’s exposition of the text and its connection and application to contemporary contexts (e.g., demonstrating God’s ḥesed to the marginalized). This is an excellent resource for pastors, teachers, and students.

Tod Linafelt (Berit Olam)

Tod Linafelt focuses on a literary approach to the book of Ruth. This commentary offers an innovative exploration of irony, characterization, intentional ambiguity in the syntax and grammar, issues of identity, and belonging.



Judy Fentress-Williams (Abingdon)

Fentress-Williams approaches Ruth as a dialogic comedy through a Bakhtinian lens. Each chapter offers brief and accessible analysis of the literary, exegetical, and theological implications of each chapter in the book of Ruth. I am a Mikhail M. Bakhtin fan so this commentary was an immediate favorite for my collection.


Thanks, Dr. Matheny! Be on the lookout for a soon-coming publication of her book: Judges 19–21 and Ruth: Canon as a Voice of Answerability. Biblical Interpretation Series. Leiden: Brill. (dissertation monograph)


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