Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ruth

Author: Gladson, Jerry A.
Gladson’s commentary presupposes some knowledge of Hebrew, but it also breaks down the text of the book of Ruth to provide a widely accessible interpretation of a rather important female voice in the Old Testament. This commentary engages with other exegetical works and claims that Ruth was probably one of the first short stories in recorded history. Due to its presence in the sacred canon it has functioned as a religious text, but it carries much importance as a literary accomplishment for depicting a female protagonist, but also for telling such a vibrant story in such a compact span of time, roughly four short Biblical chapters.

Gladson attempts to provide the most extensive scholarly treatment of the biblical book of Ruth to date. His exegesis looks at the way the story has been interpreted by biblical scholars, in music, art, literature, and culture. It is an amazing attempt to draw out as much material as possible considering the short length of the Book of Ruth, and the topics covered show an experienced scholar detailing what can be known and what is yet to be known about Ruth. Questions of authorship, origin, historical and literary importance are all addressed precisely because it is one of the only books in the Old Testament depicting a female protagonist in a positive light. Ruth is also considered to be one of the first written attempts at the short story genre.


“Throughout his presentation Gladson is judicious, frequently erring on the side of caution. He easily facilitates conversation among a wide variety of scholarly opinions, decisively articulating his own judgment on certain issues while not hesitant to admit uncertainty on others due to lack of evidence in his estimation.”
Prof. William P. Brown,
Columbia Theological Seminary

“Gladson’s newest work opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of scholarship about Ruth, a book that appears so simple. I did not realize that there were that many other perspectives on its authorship, historicity, or evolution. I was impressed by the amount of possibilities and nuance that he has offered me as a student of the Bible.”
Prof. Julie Schwartz,
Hebrew Union College

“This commentary on the book of Ruth is the product of a mature scholar who has established himself as a trustworthy authority in the area of Biblical languages and theology. Dr. Gladson has chosen to present a dramatic handle for the book of Ruth; that is to say, he places in the reader’s hands a drama script arranged by a gifted narrator who has made an offering to the stage of the ages.”
Prof. Edwin Zackrison,
University of Phoenix