The JPS Bible Com­men­tary: Ruth

Tama­ra Cohn Eske­nazi and Tik­va Frymer-Ken­sky, eds.
  • Review
By – January 24, 2012
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.
Hara E. Per­son was ordained by Hebrew Union Col­lege-Jew­ish Insti­tute of Reli­gion. She is a writer and editor.

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