Thursday, April 24, 2014

A new commentary on Judges and Ruth

A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Kregel Exegetical Library). By Robert B. Chisholm Jr. Kregel Publications. pp. 704. 2013. (List Price $39.99 Hardcover)

My pastor told me Daniel Block's commentary was the best available on Judges and Ruth. I'll have to loan him Chisholm's new commentary and see if he changes his mind. This recent addition to the new Kregel Exegetical Library series confirms my suspicions that this will be a commentary set pastors and scholars will want to own.

Chisholm is more than qualified to write this commentary. He has written a number of books and contributed to many more other publications. He is also the senior Old Testament editor for the New English Translation of the Bible.

This commentary is technical but quite accessible to those like me who have not had any formal instruction in biblical Hebrew. Chisholm does not shy away from discussing matters of the Hebrew language and grammar, but I was able to follow most of these discussions, and thankfully they do not make up the bulk of this work.

He deals thoroughly with introductory matters and interacts with other commentaries and publications. He even goes so far as to provide his own recommendations for further reading, and Block's commentary and that of Dale Ralph Davis were both on the top of his list, recommendations I have heard before from men I deeply respect. This shows goodwill towards other scholars and actually saves the reader from having to do additional research when short on time, as most pastors are.

Chisholm is firmly committed to the inerrancy of the Scriptures. He teaches at Dallas theological seminary and is Baptist by conviction. However, his exposition is derived from the text and he frequently interacts with commentators across the theological spectrum.

When looking at commentaries, one way of evaluating them is to look for passages where there is variance of opinion or matters of great import to see where the author comes down. My own pastors one criticism of Block was that he takes the position that Ruth had sexual intercourse with Boaz when she approached him on the threshing floor. Chisholm disagrees and argues that, while the vocabulary certainly builds up the sexual tension, the text itself shows their purity. Although not nearly as important, Chisholm takes the position that Jephthah sacrifices his daughter rather than horses forcing her to take a vow of chastity. I find his arguments convincing, but you will have to leaf through the book yourself if you want to know what they are.

Although I could say much more about this commentary, and the commentary itself merits as much, I will limit myself to one more note. Chisholm deals with the text primarily from a literary point of view, taking each passage in light of the book as a whole and its relation to the other historical books of the Old Testament. He ends each section by providing helpful thoughts on communicating the main idea of the passage, theological principles drawn from the passage, and hints for preaching the passage.

I highly recommend this commentary, and I am very happy with the quality this commentary series is putting out.

I received a copy of this work from the publisher for the purpose of providing an honest review.

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