Ruth. Concordia Commentary

By John R. Wilch
Saint Louis : Concordia (2006). xl + 418 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Grisanti
21.1 (Spring 2010) : 133-133

The author of this volume is professor emeritus at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catherines, Ontario. He has served as a pastor or professor in the United States, Canada, and Germany. He has also been involved with various Lutheran mission agencies and committees.

For an overview of the features shared by each of the commentaries in this series, see above the review of the volume on Joshua by Harstad. Here are a few features of this volume that differ from the commentary on Joshua. Whereas Harstad was able to devote almost a thousand pages to a biblical book with 24 chapters, Wilch devotes 464 pages to a book with four chapters. His introduction section occupies almost a third of the volume. In addition to the customary issues covered in introductions, he devotes numerous pages to motifs, theology, and relevance (75 pages of 106 pages of introduction).

As with other volumes in this series, Wilch divides the Book of Ruth into major sections. Each section has a translation of that passage, textual notes, and commentary. In this volume, the textual notes are fairly extensive. However, Wilch never provides an outline of the entire book. He identifies each major section, but never attempts to demonstrate the flow of the entire book. One unique (and odd?) feature of the volume is Wilch’s arrangement of almost every section of Ruth as some kind of chiasm.

Wilch’s commentary is a great resource for students of the Book of Ruth. His textual notes deal with word meanings, syntax, and textual issues that might clutter up his exposition of the text. Although he writes for a Lutheran publisher, he includes less distinctively Lutheran observations than Harstad did, which makes his volume more usable to a wider audience. His observations throughout the volume are clear and helpful. He provides a measured “Christotelic” understanding of certain parts of Ruth, but generally does not overplay that aspect of Ruth’s message. This commentary offers a solid exposition of Ruth.