Robert B. Chisholm Jr., A Commentary on Judges and Ruth, Kregel Exegetical Library (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2013).
number of years ago I had the opportunity to take a class that covered
Judges taught by the author of this book. In fact, I believe that the
class notes were an earlier version of this commentary. The class was
excellent. I appreciated Dr. Chisholm’s careful handling of the text
combined with his interest in homiletical presentation.
two emphases are reflected in this commentary on Judges and Ruth as
well. The commentary on Judges begins with a fairly thorough
introduction of 89 pages. Two parts in the introduction are noteworthy.
First, the section on the chronological problems associated with the
rules of the various judges was very good although I do not agree with
the proposed solution. Second, the section on the “modern proclamation
of Judges” is helpful for those involved in preaching and teaching this
challenging book. Here the author discusses the exegetical idea,
theological idea, homiletical trajectories, and primary preaching idea
for each section. The introduction to Ruth is 33 pages. I found the
discussion on literary structure interesting although I am not
comfortable with using dramatic terminology (acts, scenes, etc.) since
this might suggest that the genre of Ruth is theatrical and related to
ancient drama (a genre that I believe postdates the composition of
Ruth). As with Judges, Chisholm provides the reader help with preaching
and teaching the book.
The commentary proper follows a similar
format. Each section of the commentary begins with a translation (a
slightly revised version of his translation from the NET Bible) that is
parenthetically identified with narrative structure labels (e.g.,
mainline clauses, offline clauses, and quotations). This is followed by
an outline, a discussion of the literary structure, and an exposition of
the text. The exposition is followed by a discussion of the message and
application of the passage. Here the preacher/teacher is given helpful
material from which to craft a sermon or lesson. One will need to have
some training in Hebrew to get the full benefit of this work though.
Overall this commentary is an excellent resource for the study of
Judges and Ruth. The comments are detailed enough to be helpful but
concise enough to be useful. The author is fair and balanced in his
treatment of textual difficulties and carefully articulates his
preference. Chisholm’s discussion of Jephthah’s treatment of his
daughter is a good example of this (pp. 350-65). Also, as noted
previously, this commentary is preacher/teacher friendly. Even the
chapter titles have a sermonic flavor. Rather than utilizing something
as linguistically sterile as “the Samson narrative” for chapters 13–16,
this section is cleverly labeled, “Samson: Lion Killer with a Sweet
Tooth.” There is not much to offer by way of criticism. My lone
suggestion would be a Scripture index.
Anyone who is planning
to preach or teach through either Judges or Ruth should consider this
book, especially if he or she has some facility with Hebrew.
You can access a 25-page excerpt here.
Thanks to Kregel for providing the review copy used in this unbiased review.