About This Blog

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"Ruth: A Discourse Analysis of the Hebrew Bible" (Daniel I. Block)

TITLE: Ruth: A Discourse Analysis of the Hebrew Bible (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament)
AUTHOR: Daniel I. Block
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2015, (304 pages).

One of the hottest issues being debated on the Internet is the plight and treatment of the refugees streaming out of wartorn Syria. Many of them have only their possessions on their backs. There are the elderly and the young; mothers and young children; adults and young adults; and they all had one common goal: Flee from the violence and war for a place that can offer refuge. Sometimes, I feel like this book is released at the right time, to remind us all that we are all in some way a "refugee." Whether literally or metaphorically, without the comforts of home and the predictabilities of life, we are nomads looking for an eternal home. Closer to home, many countries in the West are locked in debates over whether to welcome or to shut their doors to the growing refugee problem that Europe is facing. Billed as the biggest forced migration of this century, the problem is only going to get bigger. How can Christians approach this? While opinions are fairly split, with a slight tilt toward those who want to welcome all the refugees, there is also that security concerns, especially after the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13th, 2015.

This book's preface seems prophetic as the author offers it to "all the Boazes in history and in our time who accept their roles as 'the wings of God' and offer refuge to the poor and marginalized." This is what the book of Ruth is about. There is an important message that is contained in this ancient book about a foreign born woman marrying and living with a Jewish family. It is about how God in his great mercy chooses to use anyone (including a Moabite) to continue his line of blessings. It is about God who communicates his love and grace through the written Word. By studying the original texts, the translations, and analyze the Hebrew text, we can learn more about how the ancients treat refugees, how blessings are for all, and how great is God's love for the people he created. This book contains the hallmarks of the exegetical commentary:
  • There is an introduction to the passage to be studied
  • There are detailed commentaries on the "individual text units"
  • Complex units are broken down into smaller ones for deeper analyses
  • Main idea of the Passage are stated
  • Literary Contexts given
  • Translation and exegetical outline
  • Structure and Literary Forms described
  • Practical applications and significance
  • The Hebrew numbering format used instead of our conventional English ones
In Ruth, we read about redemption. We read about acceptance. We read about how the fears and uncertainties facing a foreigner in another land and culture. If it is not easy for our modern refugee to live in another country, how much more a Moabite in a Hebrew culture then. There were no Internet or Facebook appeals in the ancient world to capture the attention of the world. There were no human rights sensitivities then compared to what we have enshrined in the United Nations of now. Of course, the Israelites only have the Law and the Law itself is the best form of human rights protection. Thankfully, in Ruth, we see how the Hebrews have honoured the Law and the tradition of hospitality even to strangers and foreigners. 

In this latest addition to an excellent series of Exegetical Commentaries published by Zondervan, author and Professor Daniel Block puts together over twenty years of knowledge and experience since writing his first commentary for the New American Commentary on Judges and Ruth. This ZECOT edition continues the work with a modern look and exegetical freshness. There is a lot of material that have been packed into this volume. The analysis is detailed. The scholarship is rich. The treatment of the biblical book is respectful. One can sense the author's reverence for the holy text.

Students will find this text particularly useful as Block explains the narrative in detail but also with an eye for the modern mind. As again, a commentary of this nature is best with the printed version. My early reader's version is based on the Kindle and the formatting is bad. That affects general reading experience and the flow of the author's reasoning. I look forward to reading the actual print copy which I trust would contain the best of ZECOT.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment