The Book of Ruth

By Robert L. Hubbard
Grand Rapids : Eerdmans (1989). 317 Pages.

Reviewed by
1.2 (Fall 1990) : 209-210

The author introduces his commentary with a detailed and comprehensive analysis of canonicity, literary criticism, authorship and date, purpose, setting, genre, legal background, themes, theology, analysis of contents, and selected bibliography.

Because much of the secondary source material on the book of Ruth has been written in German or French or appears in scholarly journals, it is inaccessible to pastors. Hubbard, Professor of Hebrew at Denver Seminary, has rectified this situation with his new commentary. He not only explains such details as the alleged gender disagreements (following Gary Rendsberg) as common duals, but also delves into compositional issues such as the book's unity, including the genealogy that concludes the book (Ruth 4:18-22). Although the first verse of the book (1:1) places the story chronologically within the period of the judges, the genealogy (again assuming the book's unity) puts the composition during or subsequent to David, but pre-exilic.

The author has carefully brought together much recent research on the literary dimension of Ruth and included with this his own literary analysis of the book.

Two themes intertwine, tying together both the book's story line and its concluding genealogy: God's gracious rescue of Elimelech's family from extinction and Ruth's journey from Moabitess to ancestress of King David (pp. 63-64). The author contends that in spite of its secular appearance, the book speaks inferentially of the presence and faithful activity of God as He controls the course of events leading from disaster to deliverance.

Hubbard's commentary offers the Bible student a wealth of research and personal insight into an OT book whose timeless message often receives too little attention. The reviewer highly recommends the book to those interested in a careful analysis of Ruth.