Series Introduction: I live in a small house. I work in a small office in a small church. For those reasons and others I will never have a huge library. When I add a book I almost always remove a book, a practice that allows me to focus on quality over quantity. Over the past couple of years I have focused on building a collection of commentaries that will include only the best volumes on each book of the Bible. I know when I’m in way over my head, so before I began I collected every good resource I could find that rated and reviewed commentaries. I studied them and then began my collection on the basis of what the experts told me. Since I did all of that work, and since I continue to keep up with the project, I thought it might be helpful to share the recommendations.
My focus is on newer commentaries (at least in part because most of the classics are now freely or cheaply available) and I am offering approximately 5 recommendations for each book of the Bible, alternating between the Old Testament and the New. Today I have turned to the experts to find what they say about Ruth.
Robert Hubbard, Jr. – The Book of Ruth (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 1989). Ruth is one of the few books of the Bible that I have preached straight-through and, therefore, one I can speak to from at least a bit of personal experience. Hubbard’s receives near-unanimous praise and Keith Mathison says it well: “Robert Hubbard’s commentary on Ruth is a model of how commentaries should be written. It is careful and clear. It manages to deal with both details and the big picture. This is the first commentary to which one should turn with questions about the Book of Ruth.” It was certainly helpful to me. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Daniel I. Block – Judges, Ruth (New American Commentary). Block’s commentary covers both Judges and Ruth and is highly recommended for its treatment of both books. Longman gives it a 5-star rating and says “This contribution is clearly the best thing available on the book of Judges [and, Ruth]. Block is thoroughly aware of all the literature that precedes his own, and he incorporates what is good and criticizes what is bad.” He also praises Block’s insights along with his literary and theological analysis. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Iain Duguid – Esther & Ruth (Reformed Expository Commentary). I read this one devotionally before reading it during sermon preparation and in both uses found it very, very helpful. It is a sermon-based commentary and ideal for giving an example of how to preach the text and how to illustrate and apply it. This is one of my favorites in the Reformed Expository Commentary series. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Frederic W. Bush – Ruth, Esther (Word Biblical Commentary). This commentary is significantly more technical than the others in the list, and a little more philosophical. Yet it is also very thorough and very helpful. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Sinclair Ferguson – Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth. I read this little book years ago and returned to it when preaching Ruth. When I reviewed it many years ago I said, “Do not let its small size and relative obscurity fool you. This is a wonderful book and one that I trust can and will bless you as it has blessed me. There is much wisdom in its pages. There is much to ponder, to reflect upon, and to prayerfully integrate into a life.” I stand by those comments today. While it is not a commentary proper, it is still tremendously helpful. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Let me close with a couple of questions: What are your preferred commentaries on Ruth? Are there some you’ve found particularly helpful for preaching or for devotional purposes?
More in Best Commentaries:
- A La Carte (8/5)
- Best Commentaries on Genesis
- Best Commentaries on Matthew
- Best Commentaries on Exodus