Here in the latest of the fine Apollos Old Testament Commentary series published by IVP we find a surprising volume solely on the little book of Ruth. Though often attached to Judges in the commentary world, this book is often more loved and well known than its larger companions. Most Christians love studying Ruth. Daniel Hawk gives us a thoughtful volume on Ruth that, in my judgment, takes its own track. In analyzing structure he reads ethnicity as a key component to understanding Ruth. While there are theological points to the Israel versus Moab points of the story and the ironic turn of events, I cannot personally elevate that as highly as he does as the crux of understanding Ruth. Still, it highlights points other commentaries miss.
His Introduction covers the normal territory and he well summarizes what scholarship has so far thought. His discussion on how some classify the book—true story, idyll, novella, folk tale—only reminds me that such discussions would never have arisen had not scholarship decided to attack the historicity of the Bible in generations past. While I agree with his assessment that Ruth “resists classification”, I wish he had given a stronger word on its complete veracity.
What is valuable is the perceptive observations he often makes that you can use as a takeoff to study. For example, he says, “While the narrator begins and ends with males, the first and last characters to speak in the story are women.” I found myself underlining many such observations in both the Introduction and the Commentary itself.
This volume would not be my first choice on Ruth, but I count it a helpful additional resource and well worth having. The Apollos continues to shape up as a fine series.
I received this book free from the publisher. 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.