Ruth — from bitter to sweet
144 pages, £8.99
Star Rating : 3
This is a Welwyn Commentary on the Book of Ruth. It includes material for further thought and reflection at the end of each chapter. This extra material means that the book could easily form the basis for group Bible studies.
There is a mixture of background information, explanation of the translation of important words and spiritual application throughout the commentary. It is not academic, but it is a worthwhile read, especially devotionally. In the commentary the author traces God’s sovereign plan to bring Christ into the world and how Ruth plays a significant part in these plans.
He is honest about the weaknesses and strengths of the characters, neither whitewashing their faults nor being over-harsh with their weaknesses.
Of particular merit is his defence of the propriety of Naomi instructing Ruth to go to the threshing floor and lie down beside Boaz. This is worth having, as so many today accuse Naomi of encouraging Ruth in immoral behaviour. It is worth quoting his comment in full:
‘The view that the scene at the threshing floor is a sexual encounter appears to be a commonly held position today. My belief is that this perspective reveals more about our day and age than it does about the time of Boaz and Ruth.
‘We live in a sex-sated culture in the West, and so we look back on this story with suspicion and scepticism. We read our own mores back into the story. But, in reality, there is nothing in the account that warrants such doubts or reading into the story what is not there.
‘The irony is that one of the major themes of the book of Ruth is the integrity, honour and uprightness of Boaz and Ruth. They are characters for us to emulate. They are honest, diligent and forthright, and they keep their word’.
It was disappointing that the author passes very briefly over periods of peace in the Judges, whereas the times of trouble received extended coverage. During the period of the judges there were 289 years of peace and 111 years of oppression (and even they were not all violent). The other slight drawback was his use of unusual and less well known words, for example apodictic, volitional and inclusio.
Whilst by no means the last word in commentaries on the Book of Ruth, this is certainly a valuable addition and worthwhile read.