Ruth (Interpretation) by Sakenfeld

book ruth i

This slim volume is part of the Interpretation Bible Commentary series. It’s one of the best books available to lay out the critical position (your other option is the OTL from the same publisher). Of the two, this one probably has more theology and insights to glean for the preacher. The author writes clearly, accessibly, and with enough verve to hold the reader’s attention well.

The Introduction begins by stating that Ruth is the favorite of many Bible readers and that it could be viewed as “an island of tranquility”. The first main section discusses date and purpose. Though I can’t accept all her conclusions, she reviews well the scholarly debate over the date. She also well explains the belief that the point of Ruth is to reinforce David’s right to the throne. She goes on to state her belief that the use of David is only “the storyteller’s means of legitimizing an inclusive attitude towards foreigners, perhaps especially toward foreign women”. I personally doubt that’s the theme of the Book of Ruth, but it was interesting. She also confesses that tradition has long held Samuel to be the author of this book and doesn’t counteract it other than stating her fascination with the possibility of a female author. She’s indecisive on what exactly the levirate marriage’s role is. She well describes the canonical context. The best part by far of the Introduction is her description of theological themes. She sees the themes as the peaceable community, examples of loyal living, and the place of God in the story.

The commentary itself makes for interesting reading. Yes, there are critical conclusions at many junctures, but also many perceptive theological points. I felt I got exactly what I was looking for in this commentary, and for those looking for the same, I highly recommend this book.

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.

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