IVP Academic and Apollos have recently come out with a new installment within their Apollos Old Testament Commentary (AOTC) Series–Ruth (AOTC 7B), by L. Daniel Hawk of Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio.
The ‘AOTC’ Series
The AOTC series, edited by David W. Baker and Gordon J. Wenham–both well-known Old Testament scholars, aims to “[keep] one foot firmly planted in the universe of the original text and the other in that of the target audience” (from the Editors’ Preface). That target audience is preachers, teachers, and students.
“At last! A commentary series that combines the best of biblical scholarship with a passion for the message of the text.” – Daniel Block; Professor of OT, Wheaton College
Some of the distinct features that IVP points out about this particular commentary series are:
- Introduces and examines the books of the Old Testament
- Treats with equal seriousness the divine and human aspects of Scripture
- Written by an international team of scholars
- Shows the relevance of the Old Testament to modern readers
- Designed to serve the needs of those who preach or teach from the Old Testament
- Committed to the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament
- Pursues a theological interpretation of Old Testament books
- Gives careful attention to textual and exegetical issues without letting them obscure the big picture
- Includes an annotated translation of the Hebrew text for each book
- Offers thorough, detailed exegesis of the historical and theological meaning of each passage
This volume on Ruth is the first that I am being acquainted with the AOTC series. In fact, I had never heard of this series before reviewing Ruth. But, if the volumes are true to the goal and target audience of the series, the AOTC series will be valuable to me in my study and ministry. “What we intend, therefore, is to provide not only tools of excellence for the academy, but also tools of function for the pulpit” (from the Editors’ Preface).
The particular volume I have reviewed is Ruth. Hawk introduces the Book of Ruth well in his introduction, and he writes clearly throughout. He places a high value on the theme of ethnicity and identity in Ruth (seen in his specific discussion on the topic). “Ruth’s Moabite identity,” says Hawk, “generates the energy that drives the plot of the story” (20).
Each section of the commentary begins with a translation of the text, followed by textual notes. He then discusses the form and structure of the section, before getting into the comments and explanation. In light of that, this volume on Ruth has a little bit for everybody. As an Old Testament and Hebrew language student, I found his textual notes fairly interesting. If I were studying Ruth in order to preach or teach, I would certainly benefit from the comments and explanation. The comments and explanation are, in my opinion, the strength of the commentary. Not that the other sections are “weak”–the textual notes and the sections on form and structure are adequate for a volume of this nature, but should be supplemented by other resources for academic study.