Book Review: “Ruth: A Guide to Reading Biblical Hebrew” by Adam J. Howell

The book of Ruth is a beautiful book of the Bible. I’m not necessarily referring to all the romantic elements that are so often highlighted (and sometimes superimposed on the text). The beauty is found in the meaning of the text itself, which can be most vividly exegeted when studying it from the original language of Hebrew. I am personally working through writing a Bible study curriculum on the book of Ruth, and a glaring weakness I discovered in the field of biblical studies was in finding a real robust study of the book of Ruth based on the original language. But that is no longer the case. Adam Howel’s “Ruth: A Guide to Reading Biblical Hebrew” is an excellent contribution worth considering for those in pastoral ministry, linguistics, seminary, and lovers of Scripture (with an intermediate handle of biblical Hebrew). For Logos Bible Software users, here’s a link for purchasing that in a matter of seconds. (note: I am a Logos affiliate partner)

This is not the kind of book you would necessarily read quickly or for relaxation–“Ruth” is indeed a “guide” or walkthrough of sorts through every word of this brief Old Testament book. Howell clearly explains all that is happening with the Hebrew text, parsing verbs with precision, but also adds some wonderful exegetical insights. These exegetical gems are worth the price of admission and then some. It is basically like having a seminary professor sitting next to you and pointing out the many nuances of the biblical Hebrew found in Ruth.

The one “drawback” is mostly in regards to accessibility and sales. It really is essential that the reader knows some biblical Hebrew. Merely memorizing the alphabet won’t do in this case. You certainly don’t need to be an expert, but it would probably be overwhelming to people with just one semester of Hebrew under their belts. Because of this, there is a bit of a limit as to whom would benefit from this book. But for those with even a lower end of intermediate handle of Hebrew, the value of this book is well beyond the price tag.

Academics would certainly benefit from Howell’s guide to Ruth. Seminary professors could quite readily use this book as a resource to teach through this wonderful book. But pastors should not overlook this as merely academic exercise. Pastors would be wise to use exegetically-rich books like Howell’s to learn the Scripture for themselves and then be able to minister to others most effectively. The well is deep, but the guidance offers a sturdy hand. I would heartily recommend Howell’s book on Ruth.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for media review. I am sharing this review freely without any compulsion.


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