The Book of Ruth gets its own small volume in the Old Testament Library (OTL) series. Written by Kirsten Nielsen, this commentary meets the aims of the series in providing a critical take in a mid-length commentary. Though I do not hold to the author’s viewpoint, I did appreciate its thorough presentation of a critical position as well as several reflections that you won’t find anywhere else.
In the Introduction, the author first discusses contents and structure. The author seems impressed with the outstanding, tight structure of this little book. Though a short section, I found the comments on structure helpful. Next, there’s the typical discussion of genre found in most commentaries on Ruth. The rest of the Introduction focuses intensely on inter-textual reading. In other words, the author loves tracing out connections to other parts of Scripture. Some seem more plausible to me than others, but this is clearly an area where the author has carved out a niche. I couldn’t follow the thinking presented in the historical context, but it matches what you would expect in a critical commentary. Much better is a discussion of theological themes. Finally, there’s a short discussion about the text of Ruth.
The commentary well matches what I’ve come to expect from the OTL series. In several places, you will glean much food for thought. I appreciated the emphasis of hesed not being overlooked. On the downside, the discussion of Ruth’s behavior at the threshing floor that included a confidence of sexual activity and of that sexual activity being praiseworthy was more than I could take! Fortunately, the commentary on other parts of the narrative is much more reasonable.
This book is one of the best to gain the perspective of the critical camp. It’s not prolix, it’s easy to follow, and it will stretch your mind in places. If you can overlook that one offensive section, you will find this a nice book to add to your library.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.