Ruth by Daniel BlockWheaton College Old Testament professor and writer Daniel L. Block has recently written Ruth: A Discourse Analysis of the Hebrew Bible (Zondervan, 2015), which is part of the newer Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series on the Old and New Testaments. Block is also the general editor for the Old Testament portion of the series.

These commentaries separate themselves from other solid commentary series in the following ways:

  1. Main Idea – Basing itself on all of the work to follow, the main idea of the passage is briefly explained at the beginning of each chapter.
  2. Literary Context – Each passage is placed in its most immediate context and then within the broader context of the book itself.
  3. Translation and Exegetical Outline – In my mind this is where the commentary excels. The author provides a fresh translation of the passage which is accompanied by several features: (1) the passage is arranged line by line with corresponding chiastic structured labeling (1a, 1b, 1c – 2a, 2b, 2c), (2) the Hebrew text is line by line next to the translation, and (3) each movement of the text is identified in an outline format with short descriptions.
  4. Structure and Literary Forms – Here, the relevant and significant structural and literary features of the passage are briefly mentioned. This includes things like word repetition, changes in grammar, stylistic features, verb usages, etc.
  5. Explanation of the Text – While this is the bulk of any commentary, this section is predominately dominated by the literary structure of the passage. Compared to other exegetical commentaries, this section is noticeably shorter book for book but does not skimp on content. They get to the point and allow the other aspects to fill in.
  6. Canonical and Practical Significance – This final section links the passages connection to the rest of the book and the whole Bible when applicable. It also bridges the world of the Bible to today’s world with practical application that is sensitive to the context of the passage.

In regards to Block’s commentary on Ruth, the most notable feature under-girding all of his work in the book is his focus on Ruth as a drama. As such the pericopes are seen in terms of act’s in a play. Further, the translation of the book has a more narrative feel to it as compared to other standard translations.

While knowledge of Hebrew is certainly ideal, those who are not familiar with it will still gain much from Block’s work. Block is one of those writers who seems to hit a home run with every book he writes and this book is no exception. Though Block has already written a commentary on Ruth for the New American Commentary series, this time around gave him the chance to visit the text once again with new eyes and provide a fresh take on a familiar book.

I heartily recommend Ruth by Block for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of the book, especially from an exegetical and literary perspective.

I received this book for free from Zondervan for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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