Best Ruth Commentaries | Updated for 2020

The best Ruth commentaries are listed below. There are exegetical commentaries, scholarly and technical commentaries, as well as commentaries that are easy to understand. The “Top 10” list is based on aggregate reviews.

This list of commentaries is intended to help the reader understand and apply the author’s message in the book of Ruth. They are not suggested as a replacement for prayer, the Holy Spirit, and the reader’s own diligent study of Scripture.

It is hoped that these books will aid the Christian pastor, preacher, teacher, student, as well as any Bible reader that wants to understand more about Ruth.

May each reader’s aim be to glorify God in Jesus Christ; to strengthen Christ’s bride, the Church; and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.

Please also see Best Commentary Series: The Top 50. Based on aggregate reviews.

10 Best Ruth Commentaries

Please read: The “Top 10” list below is a starting point for learning about Ruth commentaries. It is not intended to be the “final word” because of its limitations.

Nevertheless, a list based on aggregate reviews is likely to point many people in the right direction to find the right resource for their purposes.

#1

Judges, Ruth
New American Commentary
by Daniel I. Block

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Judges, Ruth Commentary by Daniel Block

Reviews and Accolades:

• Desiring God: #1 recommended commentary on Judges and Ruth

• Tremper Longman: rated 5 out of 5 stars, “particularly strong in literary and theological analysis”

• Keith Mathison: #1 ranked commentary on Ruth, “helpful on the Book of Ruth… highly recommended”

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The New American Commentary is introduced to bridge the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” This “series has been designed primarily to enable pastors, teachers, and students to read the Bible with clarity and proclaim it with power.”

See more about the New American Commentary series.

After browsing the commentaries below, also see the best one-volume bible commentaries, based on aggregate reviews.

#2

Ruth
New International Commentary on the Old Testament
by Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.

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Ruth commentary by Robert Hubbard

Reviews and Accolades:

• Tremper Longman: 5 out of 5 stars, “demonstrates careful scholarship, a lively writing style, and balanced judgment… one of the very best in the series”

• John H. Walton and Andrew E. Hill: “The best of the commentaries on Ruth: evangelical, thorough, insightful, and readable.”

• Keith Mathison: #1 ranked commentary on Ruth, “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.”

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “All of the NICOT volumes combine superior scholarship, an evangelical view of Scripture as the Word of God, and concern for the life of faith today.

Each volume features an extensive introduction treating the biblical book’s authorship, date, purpose, structure, and theology. The author’s own translation of the original Hebrew and verse-by-verse commentary follow.

The commentary itself carefully balances coverage of technical matters with exposition of the biblical text’s theology and implications.” 

See more about the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series.

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#3

Ruth-Esther
Word Biblical Commentary
by Frederic Bush

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Ruth Esther commentary by Frederic Bush

Reviews and Accolades:

• Tremper Longman: rated 5 out of 5 stars, “very competent… gives a thorough discussion of all the technical issues”

• Keith Mathison: #3 ranked commentary on Ruth, “An extensive, if somewhat technical, commentary on the Book of Ruth, but one well worth consulting.”

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “WBC series delivers the best in biblical scholarship, from the leading scholars who share a commitment to Scripture as divine revelation.

It emphasizes a thorough analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence. The result is judicious and balanced insight into the meanings of the text in the framework of biblical theology.” 

See more about the Word Biblical Commentary series.

#4

Esther and Ruth
Reformed Expositional Commentary
by Iain M. Duguid

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Esther Ruth commentary by Iain Duguid

Reviews and Accolades:

• Keith Mathison: #4 ranked commentary on Ruth, “Iain Duguid’s commentary is primarily directed toward pastors and teachers, but it will benefit any reader. The commentary is less technical than many others and very practical.”

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: individual study, devotional reading, Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes

Purpose: The REC series has “four fundamental commitments. First, these commentaries aim to be biblical… Second, these commentaries are unashamedly doctrinal… Third, these commentaries are redemptive-historical… Fourth, these commentaries are practical…” All authors are “pastor-scholars.”

See more about the Reformed Expository Commentary series.

#5

Judges, Ruth
NIV Application Commentary
by K. Lawson Younger

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Judges, Ruth commentary by K. Lawson Younger

Reviews and Accolades:

• Keith Mathison: #5 ranked commentary on Ruth, “very helpful”

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the General Editor: The primary goal of the NIV Application Commentary Series is to help you with the difficult but vital task of bringing an ancient message into a modern context.

The series not only focuses on application as a finished product but also helps you think through the process of moving from the original meaning of a passage to its contemporary significance.”

See more about the NIV Application Commentary series.

#6

Ruth
Interpretation
by Katharine Doob Sakenfeld

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Ruth commentary by Katherine Doob Sakenfeld

Reviews and Accolades:

• Tremper Longman: 5 out of 5 stars, provides “a great deal of insight into both the theological and sociological significance of the book”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “This series of commentaries offers an interpretation of the books of the Bible. It is designed to meet the need of students, teachers, ministers, and priests for a contemporary expository commentary.

These volumes will not replace the historical critical commentary or homiletical aids to preaching.

The purpose of this series is rather to provide a third kind of resource, a commentary which presents the integrated result of historical and theological work with the biblical text.”

See more about the Interpretation Bible commentary series.

#7

Ruth by J.M. Sasson

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Ruth commentary by Jack Sasson

Reviews and Accolades:

• Tremper Longman: scored 4 out of 5 stars, “shows great literary sensitivity”

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Well-known for his work in ancient Near Eastern languages and literature, Sasson emphasizes in this revised edition of his commentary on Ruth various philological matters: problems of translation, idiom and grammar, all with strong linguistic insights.

The author also treats literary features, and provides admirably compact and accurate synopses of scholarly debates, while often charting his own course.

For folkloristic interpretation, Sasson concentrates on formal aspects of the text to identify the genre of Ruth, and then systematically surveys narrative feature, provenance, date, and purpose of writing.”

#8

Ruth
Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament
by Daniel I. Block

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Ruth commentary Daniel Block

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The idea for this series was refined over time by an editorial board who listened to pastors and teachers express what they wanted to see in a commentary series based on the [original] text…

We arrived at a design that includes seven components for the treatment of each biblical passage: Literary Context, Main Idea, Translation and Graphical Layout, Structure, Exegetical Outline, Explanation of the Text, and Theology in Application.”

See more about the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament series.

#9

Ruth
Apollos Old Testament Commentary
by L. Daniel Hawk

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Ruth commentary I Daniel Hawk

Interview: See Best Bible Commentaries’ interview with L. Daniel Hawk on this volume

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The Apollos Old Testament Commentary (AOTC) aims to take with equal seriousness the divine and human aspects of Scripture.

It expounds the books of the Old Testament in a scholarly manner accessible to non-experts, and it shows the relevance of the Old Testament to modern readers.

Written by an international team of scholars and edited by David W. Baker and Gordon J. Wenham, these commentaries are intended to serve the needs of those who preach from the Old Testament, as well as scholars and all serious students of the Bible.”

See more about the Apollos Old Testament Commentary series.

#10

Ruth
Concordia Commentary
by John Wilch

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Ruth commentary John Wilch

Theology, Audience, Purpose: Gibbs takes an evangelical approach to Scripture. He is evangelical and Lutheran. While not technical, the volumes in the Concordia Commentary series reflect seminary-level scholarship.

The target audience is pastors, professors, and teachers. According to the publisher, authors in the Concordia series “fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes ‘that which promotes Christ’ in each pericope.”

See more about the Concordia Commentary series.

More Book of Ruth Commentaries for Christian Ministry

Please read: Why are the Ruth commentaries below not in the “Top 10”? It’s not because they have received poor reviews or because people haven’t found them helpful. The reasons vary:

  • Some are relatively new and haven’t been widely reviewed, read, or used yet.
  • Others haven’t been widely distributed, so it is difficult to get enough information to aggregate.
  • Still others may be outdated in relation to biblical scholarship or out of print and difficult to acquire.

The “Top 10” list is reviewed annually. Readers are encouraged to consider the volumes in this section before making a purchase. These 10 are not in any particular order.


Ruth
Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary
by James McKeown

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Ruth commentary James McKeown

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Two features distinguish The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary series: theological exegesis and theological reflection… The result is a paragraph-by-paragraph engagement with the text that is deliberately theological in focus.”

See more about the Two Horizons Bible commentary series.


Ruth
Bible Speaks Today
by David Atkinson

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Ruth commentary David Atkinson

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: The “the three distinctives of The Bible Speaks Today series are (1) “BST authors are committed to a serious study of the text in its own integrity,” (2) that “expositors should not be antiquarians, living only in the remote past” but suggest application for living, and (3) “each book is intended to be both readable in style and manageable in size.” 

See more about the Bible Speaks Today commentary


Ruth
New Cambridge Bible Commentary
by Victor H. Mathews

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Ruth commentary Victor Mathews

Purpose: From the publisher: “The NCBC aims to elucidate the Hebrew and Christian scriptures for a wide range of intellectually curious individuals…

[Volumes] do not assume the reader has a great deal of specialized theological knowledge or an impressive command of the Hebrew, Aramaic, or biblical Greek.”

See more about New Cambridge Bible Commentaries.


Ruth
Brazos Theological Commentary
by Laura A. Smit

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Ruth commentary Brazos

Interview: See Best Bible Commentaries’ interview with Stephen E. Fowl on this volume

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible enlists leading theologians to read and interpret Scripture for the twenty-first century, just as the church fathers, the Reformers, and other Orthodox Christians did for their times and places. 

The commentaries are designed to serve the church — through aid in preaching, teaching, study groups, and so forth — and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.”

See more about the Brazos Theological Commentary series.


Ruth
Tyndale Old Testament Commentary
by Mary J. Evans

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Ruth commentary Mary Evans

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: This series is “designed to help readers understand what the Bible actually says and what it means… [each commentary] examines the text section by section, drawing out its main themes.

It also comments on individual verses and deals with problems of interpretation. The aim throughout is to get at the true meaning of the Bible and to make its message plain to readers today.”

See more about the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series.


Ruth
Understanding the Bible Commentary Series
by Michael S. Moore

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Ruth commentary Understanding the Bible

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Each volume in the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series breaks down the barriers between the ancient and modern worlds so that the power and meaning of the biblical texts become transparent to contemporary readers.

They present a careful section-by-section exposition of the biblical books with key terms and phrases highlighted and all Hebrew transliterated.

Notes at the close of each chapter provide additional textual and technical comments for those who want to dig deeper.”

See more about the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series.


Judges and Ruth
Kregel Exegetical Library
by Robert B. Chisholm Jr.

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Ruth commentary Robert Chisholm

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “This definitive commentary sheds exegetical and theological light on the books of Judges and Ruth for contemporary preachers and students of Scripture.

Listening closely to the text while interacting with the best of scholarship, Chisholm shows what the text mean for ancient Israel and what it means for us today.”

See more about the Kregel Exegetical Library series.


Ruth
Tyndale Old Testament Commentary
by Leon Morris

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Ruth commentary Cundall Morris

Approach to Scripture: Evangelical

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: This series is “designed to help readers understand what the Bible actually says and what it means… [each commentary] examines the text section by section, drawing out its main themes.

It also comments on individual verses and deals with problems of interpretation. The aim throughout is to get at the true meaning of the Bible and to make its message plain to readers today.”


Ruth
Expositor’s Bible Commentary Revised
by George Schwab

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Ruth commentary Expositor's

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “Written primarily by expositors for expositors… its stance is that of a scholarly evangelicalism committed to the divine inspiration, complete trustworthiness, and full authority of the Bible… the chief principle followed in this commentary is the grammatico-historical.”

See more about the Expositor’s Bible Commentary series.


Ruth
Abingdon Old Testament Commentary
by Judy Fentress-Williams

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Ruth commentary Williams

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries series offers compact, critical commentaries on all the books of the Old Testament.

In addition to providing fundamental information on and insights into Old Testament writings, these commentaries exemplify the tasks and procedures of careful, critical exegesis so as to assist students of the Old Testament in coming to an informed engagement of the biblical texts themselves.

These commentaries are written with special attention to the needs and interests of theology students, but they will also be useful for students in upper-level college or university settings, as well as for pastors and other church leaders.”

See more about Abingdon commentaries.


Ruth
The JPS Torah Commentary
by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Tikva Frymer-Kensky

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Ruth commentary JPS Torah

Best for: students, pastors, teachers, professors, and scholars with training in Hebrew who can follow a technical commentary

Purpose: From the publisher: “The JPS Torah Commentary series guides readers through the words and ideas of the Torah. Each volume is the work of a scholar who stands at the pinnacle of his field.

Every page contains the complete traditional Hebrew text, with cantillation notes, the JPS translation of the Holy Scriptures, aliyot breaks, Masoretic notes, and commentary by a distinguished Hebrew Bible scholar, integrating classical and modern sources.

Each volume also contains supplementary essays that elaborate upon key words and themes, a glossary of commentators and sources, extensive bibliographic notes, and maps.”

See more about the JPS Bible commentary series.


Ruth
The Old Testament Library
by Kirsten Nielsen

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Ruth commentary Kirsten Nielsen

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The Old Testament Library provides fresh and authoritative treatments of important aspects of Old Testament study through commentaries and general surveys. The contributors are scholars of international standing.”

See more about the Old Testament Library commentary series.


Ruth
A Continental Commentary
by Andre LaCocque

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Ruth commentary Andre Lacocque

Best for: students, pastors, teachers, professors, and scholars with training in Hebrew who can follow a technical commentary

Purpose: From the publisher: This series “makes leading critical biblical scholarship from German and French scholars available to the English-speaking world.

This series combines scholarly excellence with academic rigor to benefit pastors, students, and scholars of both the Old and New Testament…

Each book in the Continental Commentary Series includes comprehensive introductory material, including an explanation of narrative themes, an overview of the historical and cultural context, an analysis of textual traditions, and an evaluation of recent literature.”

See more about the Continental Commentary series.


Ruth
The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries
by Jeremy Schipper

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Ruth commentary Jeremy Schipper

Best for: students, pastors, teachers, professors, and scholars with training in Hebrew who can follow a technical commentary

Purpose: From the publisher: “The series “vigorously pursues the goal of bringing to a wide audience the most important new ideas, the latest research findings, and the clearest possible analysis of the Bible.”

See more about the Anchor Bible Commentary series.


Classic Ruth Commentaries

Ruth
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture
edited by John R. Franke

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Ruth commentary Ancient Christian

Best for: expository preachers, Bible college and seminary students, church elders and teachers, experienced Bible readers

Purpose: From the publisher: “The vast array of writings from the church fathers — including much that is available only in the ancient languages — have been combed for their comment on Scripture.

From these results, scholars with a deep knowledge of the fathers and a heart for the church have hand selected material for each volume, shaping, annotating, and introducing it to today’s readers.

Each portion of commentary has been chosen for its salient insight, its rhetorical power, and its faithful representation of the consensual exegesis of the early church.”

See more about the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series.


Also see:

Compare 75 different commentary series on the Bible Commentary Series Comparison Chart

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