The Book of Ruth: Introduction


The beginning sentence of the book of Ruth places it during the period of the Judges (Ruth 1.1). It tells the story of three characters: Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Remember, the period of the judges was a cycle of breaking covenant generation after generation. It is pictured in Scripture as a dark time in the life of Israel. Two points can be discerned from Ruth. First, we can make choices to live life to its fullest even when others around us choose to live life in decline. Or, to say it another way, we can choose to live in a different story than the one our culture presents us with. Second, salvation history will not be detoured by humankind’s choices.

Below are some reference works (mostly old ones) to help you think theologically about Ruth.

  • The Book of Ruth: | 1 | 2 | 34 |
  • Ruth: World Wide Study Bible
  • Ruth: Matthew Henry Commentary
  • Ruth: Adam Clark Commentary of the Bible
  • Ruth: John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible
  • Ruth: Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
  • Ruth: John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible
    • Book of Ruth:The Catholic Encyclopedia Catholic Encyclopaedia (1910)
    • Ruth: Easton’s Bible Dictionary
    • Ruth: Smith’s Bible Dictionary

Ruth Bibliography

  • Bell, Bernard. “Ruth: a hesed story,” (unpublished paper for BIBL 680, Biblical Theology, 680, April 1996)
  • Biggar, Paul. “The Contribution of Rhetorical Criticism to the Study of Theology in the Book of Ruth” MTh thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1989
  • Block, Daniel. Judges and Ruth (NAC; Broadman & Holman, 1999)
  • Bush, Frederic. Ruth, Esther (Waco, TX: Word, 1996)
  • Collins, John C. “Ambiguity and theology in Ruth, Ruth 1:21 and 2:20,” Presyterion, 19 (1993)
  • Fish, Harold. “Ruth and The Structure of Covenant History,” in Vetus Testamentum, 32 (1982)
  • Gordis, R. “Personal Names in Ruth–A note on Biblical Etymologies,” Judaism 35 (1986), pp.298-99
  • Green, Barbara. “The Plot of the Biblical Story of Ruth,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 22 (1982), pp.55-68
  • Hongisto, Leif. “Literary Structure and Theology in the Book of Ruth” Andrews University Seminary Studies, 23 (1985), pp.19-28
  • Horst, Eugene M. “The Sovereignty of God in the Book of Ruth” (MTh thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983)
  • Hyman, Ronald T. “Questions and Changing Identity in the Book of Ruth,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 39 (1984), pp.189-210
  • Loader, J. A. “Job’s Sister: Undermining an Unnatural Religiosity,” in Old Testament Essays, Vol. 6 (1993), p.327
  • Martens, E. A. Plot and Purpose in the Old Testament (Leicester, 1981)
  • Merrill, Eugene H. “The Book of Ruth: Narration and Shared Themes,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 142 (1985), pp.130-41
  • Ozick, C. “Ruth,” in Congregation: Contemporary Writers Read the Jewish Bible, ed. D. Rosenberg (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987)
  • Rauber, D. F. “Literary Values in the Bible: the Book of Ruth,” JBL 89 (1970), pp.27-37; reprinted as “The Book of Ruth,” in Literary Interpretations of Biblical Narratives, ed. K. R. R. Gros Louis (Nashville: Abingdon, 1974)
  • Rossow, Francis C. “Literary Artistry in the Book of Ruth and Its Theological Significance,” Concordia Journal (January, 1991), pp.12-19
  • Sasson, Jack M. “Divine Providence or Human Plan,” Interpretation, 30 (1976), pp.415-419
  • ____________ . Ruth (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1979)
  • Wubberhorst, Karla. “The Theology of Ruth” (term paper for Bruce Waltke, 1996)

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