Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
DBSJ 20 (2015) p. 89
A Commentary on Judges and Ruth, by Robert B. Chisholm, Jr. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2013. 697 pp. $39.99.
Robert B. Chisholm, Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, provides a fine contribution to the emerging Kregel Exegetical Library Series. Writing “with pastors and teachers in mind,” Chisholm aims to offer “accurate, relevant exposition of the Bible” by means of “a literary-theological method that is sensitive to the author’s literary strategies and…the text’s theological message” (14-15). In these goals Chisholm largely succeeds. Those familiar with Chisholm’s other writings will not be disappointed; he combines his customarily clear writing style and careful approach to difficult texts with a thorough knowledge of the pertinent literature.
The commentary features Chisholm’s own translation of the books, based closely upon the work he prepared for the NET Bible (many of the notes are also a condensed version of the NET Bible notes). He incorporates textual linguistics by structuring his translations in a phrase-by-phrase fashion according to the three main components of biblical Hebrew narrative: (1) mainline (wayyiqtol) clauses, (2) offline clauses (e.g., disjunctive, weqatal, negated perfect, or asyndetic perfect clauses) (marked in boldface type), and (3) dialogue (marked in italics) (81-86). Exegetes trained in discourse linguistics are apt to find this arrangement pleasing; others with a more traditional syntactical background may find it distracting at points. For each major unit the translation is followed by several successive sections: (1) an outline of the passage, (2) a detailed explanation of the text’s literary structure (focusing principally upon textual boundaries, transitions, and summaries), (3) an exposition of the passage (where most of the exegetical work is presented), and (4) a text-to-sermon overview entitled “message and application” in which he seeks to develop the thematic emphases, exegetical ideas, theological principles, and homiletical trajectories latent within the passage. Chisholm exhibits a conservative approach to the Hebrew text, as his expositions mainly follow the MT, although in a few places he prefers the LXX (e.g., 383, n. 28) or emends the text (e.g., 646, n. 21). There are fewer technical comments on the Hebrew text than one might find in other commentaries, but this appears to reflect the aim and orientation of this particular series.
As might be expected, Chisholm’s treatment of Judges constitutes the lion’s share of the commentary (545 pp.). He views the book as chronicling a recidivist stage in Israel’s history, in which “the covenant community disintegrated morally a...
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