Through close reading and responsive commentary, Reading Ruth: Birth, Redemption, and the Way of Israel vivifies this much-loved biblical text, enabling readers to imagine how a widowed woman from an alien nation becomes the ancestress of the greatest Israelite king.

As the authors (granddaughter and grandfather) also show, the Book of Ruth is about much more than the Cinderella-like rise of a woman from misery to glory. Ruth’s story sheds light on certain enduring questions of human life, and on the Hebrew Bible’s answers to those questions: the meaning of national membership and identity; the nature and limits of female friendship, marital love, and familial obligations; the importance of attachment to the land; and, especially, the redemptive powers for human life of childbirth, loving-kindness, and loyal devotion.


“Extraordinary . . . Its analyses and hypotheses will leave no reader’s understanding of Genesis unchanged.”―New York Times on The Beginning of Wisdom

“Throughout his book, Kass uses fruitful, fascinating techniques for getting at the heart of Genesis . . . Innumerable times [he] makes a reader sit back and rethink what has previously been tediously familiar or baffling.”―Washington Post on The Beginning of Wisdom

“A learned and fluent, delightfully overstuffed stroll through the Gates of Eden . . . Mix Harold Bloom with Stephen Jay Gould and you’ll get something like Kass. A wonderfully intelligent reading of Genesis.”―Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewon The Beginning of Wisdom

"Kass is a distinguished and graceful writer."―Times Literary Supplement on The Hungry Soul

"Impressive, persuasive, and important. Highly recommended."―Choice on Toward a More Natural Science

"There can be no clearer exposition of the moral complexities of 21st-century biotechnology than has been provided by Leon Kass's intellectual depth and graceful style."―New York Times Book Review on Life, Liberty & the Defense of Dignity


Leon Kass is the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought at the College at the University of Chicago and Scholar Emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute. He was Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005. His numerous articles and books include: Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs, The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature, Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (with Amy A. Kass), Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song (with Amy A. Kass and Diana Schaub), Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times, and (forthcoming) Founding God's Nation: Reading Exodus. Kass lives in Washington, DC.

Born in New York City, Hannah Mandelbaum has lived in Jerusalem since the age of seven and has long been an avid student of the Hebrew Bible. Having recently completed her army service in the Education Division of the Israeli Air Force, Hannah is preparing to enter university to major in Jewish Studies and Education. She aspires someday to teach Biblical texts to the young.

More Books