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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 176 Reviews The form with nun paragogicum serves as an optional variant in the indicative imperfect, which pattern expresses the present, the future, or continuous action in the past. For practical purposes, only the third person is dealt with: PAST TENSE "icv;.l ~ (~") 7:Jr-l cp':l "~l \"1j9~~1 Anson F. Rainey Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv, Israel 69391 PRESENT, FuTuRE, PAST CONTINUOUS lricuJ~ iDVt. (~") "~l' • t' C~P! n7~! ~~\'1:n9~ VOUTION ;CV;1~ ("~) ~ C?! "oP! \ij9~~ THE BOOK OF RUTH. By Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Pp. xiv + 317. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988. Cloth. Robert Hubbard's commentary on the book of Ruth is the latest addition in the New International Commentary series. The arrangement of material follows the established format for this series. The author provides his own translation of the book; it is direct and formal, although surprisingly archaic in a few places (e.g., 3:8 "the man shivered, rolled over, and-Io and behold!-a woman was lying at his feet"). The footnotes to the translation seem to be intended to discuss issues of textual criticism (very briefly) and translation problems. The main section is an extensive verseby -verse commentary; there are a few summary comments, usually of a more theological nature, at the conclusion of each chapter. For the most part, the format works well, although some of the notes on the translation seem to belong more with the commentary section. The book begins with an extensive introduction of eighty pages in which Hubbard treats all of the standard questions of text, canonicity, authorship and date, genre, theme, and theology. In a lengthy section on "Legal Background" (pp 48-63), Hubbard discusses in great detail the legal Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 177 Reviews problematics which have long baffled anyone who seeks to make sense of the book. His two specific proposals (that the go'eJ had the obligation to marry a widowed relative, and that it was the substitution of Ruth for Naomi which made the kinsman change his mind) both rest more on conjecture than any real evidence from ancient custom or law. Hubbard has a section entitled "Literary Criticism" (pp 8-23) where he takes up the interpretation of the idiom in 4:17 and arguments for the originality of the genealogy in 4:18-22; discussion of "Genre" forms a completely separate and very brief section (pp 47-48). The result is that there is really no treatment of the book as a whole as a literary work; this omission is somewhat surprising given that Hubbard acknowledges in the Preface "the rich literary art to be savoured." After a lengthy survey of all of the arguments for a preexilic or postexilic date of composition, Hubbard concludes very tentatively that "the case for a preexilic date enjoys a slight edge" (p. 35); however, by the time he reaches the end of his next section on "Purpose" and "Setting," it is clear that he is convinced of a date of composition during the reign of Solomon or even David (p. 46). Both in the introduction and in the commentary itself Hubbard shows how the predominant theological themes of the book are the interaction of divine and human activity and the description of a way of life based on besed. One of the expressed goals of the New International Commentary is to choose authors who will "interact creatively with the most recent academic investigations of the Old Testament," and Hubbard has certainly done this. He has obviously worked very closely with the commentaries of E. F. Campbell and J. Sasson, but draws as well on other writers on Ruth, especially Trible and Berlin. A number of lengthy sections, both in the comments themselves and in footnotes, are really rebuttals of various views expressed by these scholars. I wonder whether extensive material of this nature is not more distracting than helpful in a commentary on a biblical text, and does not belong rather in an independent article. Hubbard begins his Preface with a quotation from Wellhausen, "So thick a book for so thin a subject," and admits that it could apply...


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