Again we see a book post supported by Cross Focused Reviews and their willingness to swap a free book for a book review.
Today, we take a look at John Currid’s contribution to the Welwyn Commentary Series. Ruth: From Bitter to Sweet is published by EP Books and is one of 38 books available in that series. I must admit to having no prior experience with the Welwyn Series before this book, so there is no comparing it to other volumes.
From Bitter to Sweet reads easily. I would count it as a commentary for anyone willing to invest more than a cursory reading of the text. The text is broken into 13 pericopes, grouped into five thematic parts.
Obviously, Ruth is not the longest book of the Bible, so one would not expect a book about Ruth to be long. From Bitter to Sweet hits just under 140 pages. Certainly part of the typical “commentary” weight is shaved off by not including the full text of the Scripture under consideration. Which is actually a reasonable idea: most people are using commentaries for Bible study and have Bibles. Why reprint the text from a common translation?
Among the benefits of this text on Ruth are these:
- Points to Ponder sections for each chapter: these segments give a direct application concept for each block of verses. These usually involve an illustrating narrative to make the point.
- Theological and linguistic terms explained: rather than rely on the reader’s knowledge of Hebrew, Currid explains not only vocabulary but concept terminology. That’s helpful for the reader who has no working knowledge of the Hebrew.
- A positive spin: that’s the best I can state it. From Bitter to Sweet is aimed to recognize the good in the work of God as revealed in the text. Currid does not make light of sin, but makes much more of the work of God.
The drawbacks I find are these:
- Endnotes. I don’t know if it’s the author or the publisher, or the series editor. Endnotes annoy me, especially in a book that cites other sources. I would like to see those references on the page they belong with.
- Not a lot of nerd-stuff. The goal of the commentary is to be more practical, but I would have liked a little more authorship discussion. And maybe a map, showing the geographic setting.
Now, a few neutral points:
- From Bitter to Sweet is definitely written from a Westminster Catechism perspective. Or, if you like, a Reformed perspective. Keep in mind, almost all theological works have a perspective on which they are based. This one leans that way.
- The Scripture references are either drawn from the ESV or are from the author’s own translation.
If you are looking to peer behind a surface reading of the text of Ruth, this book will aid you well in that pursuit.
Note: free book in exchange for the review.