Shelf Life Book Review: Ruth

Ben Espinoza

Ruth: A Discourse Analysis of the Hebrew Bible
Zondervan, 2015

The primary goal of the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament series is to enable preachers and teachers to understand how biblical authors intended their original audience to hear the text. To that end, Daniel I. Block’s commentary on Ruth explores the structure, argument, and purpose of the story. In his introduction, he observes that Ruth explores life in the ancient Near East, inspires “good and godly living,” and describes the “common roots of Israel’s royal and messianic hope” (29).

Block begins and ends the volume by offering two versions of Ruth—his own translation, and a literary retelling of the story. Each chapter includes a summary of the passage, a rhetorical outline, a discussion of the literary context, and a chart examining the passage’s structural form. The commentary is highly readable, and footnotes show the depth of Block’s research. He explores the inner workings of the text and its major themes while pointing readers to its sociocultural and historical context.

Pastors and invested laypeople will gain the most from this commentary, as Block’s focus on the nuances of the text and its canonical significance make the volume a great resource for preaching and teaching.

This review also appears in the July–August '16 issue of Bible Study Magazine.