The JPS Bible Commentary: Ruth

The Jewish Publication Society  2011

Ruth, the newest in The JPS Bible Commentary series, is a magnificent achievement. This commentary by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Tikva Frymer-Kensky is an important addition to the extant scholarship on this biblical book. As with the other volumes in this JPS series, the book offers a lengthy introduction that provides an overview of the text as well as historical and contextual background. For example, Levirate marriage is discussed in detail, as are Ruth’s place in the biblical canon, the themes of intermarriage and conversion, the theology in the Book of Ruth, the connection to Shavuot, and interpretations of the Book of Ruth throughout Jewish history. The full Hebrew text is provided alongside the JPS translation. The commentary throughout draws from a wide range of disciplines and provides a rich, extensive, and nuanced wealth of insight into the Hebrew text. Eskenazi and Frymer-Kensky’s work is an invaluable resource for any student of this brief but complex biblical book. There is a back story to this commentary about the relationship between two leading feminist bible scholars that is itself a kind of commentary, and so fitting for this tale ,which itself deals with the bond between two women, Ruth and Naomi. The work of the commentary was begun by Frymer-Kensky, who died before the project could be completed. Eskenazi completed the work using both Frymer-Kensky’s notes and her own scholarship. She is to be commended for allowing her colleague’s uncompleted work to live on in this way, and for creating an outstanding commentary which adds immeasurably to the study of the Book of Ruth. Includes extensive notes.

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