This volume on Judges and Ruth by Mary J. Evans is the latest new one in the highly-respected Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC) series that is being completely revised. The volume it replaced was nearing 50 years old, and was done by Arthur Cundall and Leon Morris. Morris, who was a prolific scholarly writer on New Testament issues, handled Ruth in the older book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. No doubt, however, it was time for IVP to produce a new volume to keep the series up-to-date. Evans, who produced this new volume, has written a commentary on Samuel in IVP’s BST series several years ago.
As I read through the introduction to both Judges and Ruth by Evans, the strengths and weaknesses of the book became quickly apparent. When matters of history or sources were under discussion, I was completely unimpressed. When the discussion turned to background, theology, or other such matters, I found it quite readable and enjoyable.
In the Introduction to Judges, the author first tackles literary issues including overall structure. When she finally worked her way to recurring motifs, I found it quite interesting as well as a discussion of author’s intention. When overviewing canonical context, discussion of sources somewhat marred the relationship of Judges to Deuteronomy, Joshua, or Samuel. Particularly helpful was a discussion of all the surrounding tribes and nations and false gods found in Judges. The discussion of theological themes was solid, and even if I think more could have been said regarding the ethical issues facing readers today from the difficult Book of Judges, at least the questions were brought up. The commentary itself shared some of the same pluses and minuses as were found in the introduction, but there was real help to be found.
I found Evans more inspiring in the Book of Ruth. The background information was excellent as were the character studies. The theological discussion of themes found in Ruth was excellent, only falling short when discussing the Kinsman Redeemer. Her discussion of recurring motives brought up some things I hadn’t thought of before and was quite interesting.
This book is a solid entry in a great 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.