Judges & Ruth

series: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase


The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible encourages readers to explore how the vital roots of the ancient Christian tradition inform and shape faithfulness today. In this addition to the series, two respected scholars offer a theological reading of Judges and Ruth. As with other volumes in the series, this commentary is designed to serve the church--providing a rich resource for preachers, teachers, students, and study groups--and to demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.

The general editor for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is R. R. Reno (editor, First Things). Series editors include Robert W. Jenson (1930-2017) (Center of Theological Inquiry); Robert Louis Wilken (University of Virginia); Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto); Michael Root (Catholic University of America); and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas).

Volumes in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

R. R. Reno
(editor, First Things) on Genesis
Thomas Joseph White (Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum in Rome) on Exodus
Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Leviticus
David L. Stubbs (Western Theological Seminary) on Numbers
Telford Work (Westmont College) on Deuteronomy
Paul Hinlicky (Roanoke College) on Joshua
Laura A. Smit (Calvin University) and Stephen Fowl (Loyola University Maryland) on Judges & Ruth
Francesca Aran Murphy (University of Notre Dame) on 1 Samuel
Robert Barron (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles) on 2 Samuel
Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Kings
Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Chronicles
Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary) on Ezra & Nehemiah
Samuel Wells (St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, London) and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas) on Esther & Daniel
Ellen T. Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Psalms 1-50
Jason Byassee (Vancouver School of Theology) on Psalms 101-150
Daniel J. Treier (Wheaton College Graduate School) on Proverbs & Ecclesiastes
Paul J. Griffiths on Song of Songs
Robert W. Jenson (1930-2017; Center of Theological Inquiry) on Ezekiel
Phillip Cary (Eastern University) on Jonah
Stanley Hauerwas (Duke Divinity School) on Matthew
David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University) on Luke
Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006; Yale University) on Acts
Kimlyn J. Bender (Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University) on 1 Corinthians
Kathryn Greene-McCreight (The Episcopal Church at Yale) on Galatians
Michael Allen (Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando) on Ephesians
George Hunsinger (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Philippians
Christopher R. Seitz (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Colossians
Douglas Farrow (McGill University) on 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Risto Saarinen (University of Helsinki) on the Pastoral Epistles with Philemon & Jude
Douglas Harink (The King's University College) on 1 & 2 Peter
Joseph L. Mangina (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Revelation


"Judges & Ruth is a salutary reminder that the dichotomy between theology and biblical scholarship is a false one. Smit and Fowl gift us with rich textual insight against the backdrop of God's providential ordering of history."

Elizabeth Newman, Eula Mae and John Baugh Professor of Theology and Ethics, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond

"Judges, in the history of its interpretation, has been well served by astute literary and historical commentary, but to these Laura Smit adds robust theological engagement. She is not afraid to go where the text leads--to a God of election, a God who involves us in warfare, a God who demands sacrifice, a God who requires countercultural fidelity. This is a challenging reading of a challenging book and will encourage all Christian readers to reexamine their own theological commitments. In addition, Stephen Fowl offers a nuanced reading of Ruth, pondering Gentile inclusion in the people of God and reflecting wisely on the multiple challenges of theological interpretation. Together these two different voices model something of the variety of ways that theological reading can engage the scriptural text."

Richard S. Briggs, lecturer in Old Testament and director of biblical studies, Cranmer Hall, St. John's College, Durham University

Praise for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

"What a splendid idea! Many preachers have been longing for more commentaries that are not only exegetical but theological in the best sense: arising out of the conviction that God, through his Word, still speaks in our time. For those of us who take our copies of Martin Luther's Galatians and Karl Barth's Romans from the shelves on a regular basis, this new series in that tradition promises renewed vigor for preaching, and therefore for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in our time."

Fleming Rutledge, author of The Bible and The New York Times and The Seven Last Words from the Cross

"This new series places the accent on 'theological' and reflects current interpretive ferment marked by growing resistance to the historical-critical project. It may be that scripture interpretation is too important to be left to the exegetes, and so a return to the theologians. We will wait with great anticipation for this new series, at least aware that the outcomes of interpretation are largely determined by the questions asked. It is never too late to ask better questions; with a focus on the theological tradition, this series holds the promise of asking interpretive questions that are deeply grounded in the primal claims of faith. The rich promise of the series is indicated by the stature and erudition of the commentators. Brazos has enormous promises to keep with this project, and we wait with eagerness for its appearing!"

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible makes a most welcome contribution to the church, the academic world, and the general public at large. By enlisting a wide range of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox theologians who differ on much, but who agree on the truth of the Nicene Creed, the series also represents ecumenical activity of the very best kind. It is always a daunting challenge to expound the church's sacred book both simply and deeply, but this impressive line-up of authors is very well situated for the attempt."

Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

"Preachers and teachers in particular, but thoughtful Christians more generally, have long lamented the slide of biblical scholarship into hyper-specialized critical studies of ancient texts in remote historical context. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Brazos Theological Commentary is being so warmly welcomed. The outstanding array of authors, beginning with Jaroslav Pelikan's splendid commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, is, at long last, reclaiming the Bible as the book of the living community of faith that is the church."

Richard John Neuhaus, author of American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile

"Contemporary application of the Bible to life is the preacher's business. But no worthy contemporary application is possible without a thorough understanding of the ancient text. The Brazos Theological Commentary exists to provide an accessible authority so that the preacher's application will be a ready bandage for all the hurts of life. We who serve the pulpit want a commentary we can understand, and those who hear us expect us to give them a usable word. The Brazos Commentary offers just the right level of light to make illuminating the word the joy it was meant to be."

Calvin Miller, author of A Hunger for the Holy and Loving God Up Close

"For pastors, wanting to get at the theological heart of a text, there is some good stuff. When I am preaching, I usually try to take a peek at the Brazos volume."

Nijay K. Gupta, Portland Seminary

The Authors

  1. Laura A. Smit

    Laura A. Smit

    Laura A. Smit (PhD, Boston University) is professor of theology at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has served in a variety of pastoral settings and is the author of Loves Me, Loves Me Not.

    Continue reading about Laura A. Smit

  2. Stephen E. Fowl

    Stephen E. Fowl

    Stephen E. Fowl (PhD, University of Sheffield) is professor of theology at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. He has written numerous books, including commentaries on Philippians and Ephesians, and is the coauthor of Reading Scripture with the...

    Continue reading about Stephen E. Fowl


"By bringing their doctrinal insight and theological sophistication to the task, Smit and Fowl have produced a volume worthy of consideration by anyone studying these texts. Smit's treatment of Judges combines traditional literary analysis with the doctrinal sensibilities of a seasoned theologian. . . . The result is a convicting exploration of Judges that perceptively considers its literary, canonical, and theological contexts. . . . The effectiveness of Fowl's analysis is in its focus. By avoiding compositional discussions and extensive grammatical debates, Fowl's commentary is finely attuned to the theological dimension of the text and its thematic trajectories."

Michelle Knight,

Bulletin for Biblical Research

"Both commentaries [Smit on Judges and Fowl on Ruth] explore the theology of the respective books by placing them within the context of the entire Christian Bible. The result in both cases is a careful, thoughtful reading that discerns the theological perspectives of the books and how each contributes to the larger biblical exploration of divine-human relationships. This entry in the series, and the series as a whole, is a fine and welcome resource for those who want to study the Bible within the heart of the church."

John R. Barker, OFM,

The Bible Today

"This volume is a great complement to other perhaps more technical commentaries on Judges and Ruth, and it would serve well those who teach and preach the Bible in Christian settings. The authors make compelling canonical connections that fanned the flame of my theological imagination. The volume is especially friendly for those who are unfamiliar with Hebrew, since both commentaries use transliteration instead of Hebrew characters, and specific references to the original text are sufficiently explained."

Sarah E. Schreiber,

Calvin Theological Journal

"This volume seeks to locate both these biblical books in the context of Christian Scripture and the Nicene tradition of Christian theological reflection. In this the authors succeed in providing wide ranging theological discussion arising from passages in these biblical books."

Gordon Kennedy,

Expository Times