Sunday, July 31, 2011
Book Review: THE BIBLE BELIEVER'S COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF JOB
Peter Ruckman is a living legend of sorts. Seems like if you've heard of him at all, you either lament his very existence or revere him as a great teacher. I never encounter any middle ground on this... it's amazing.
I had heard all about Ruckman before I ever read a word that he wrote, and then when I DID first read words from him they were quotes in volatile anti-Ruckman polemic. I avoided him for several more years and then happened-- quite by chance-- to hear him on an Ad-lib "Question and answer" tape recorded live at a tiny Baptist Church in Idaho. His answers totally disarmed me... he was intelligent, he was humorous, and he had a command of scripture that betrayed years of reading and memorization. He was far from the caricature of an undisciplined and rebellious nutjob which so many people had wanted me to envisage. This commentary was the first book of his that I actually read.
The Book of Job is, of course, the oldest book in our Bible, and it touches on one of mankind's oldest dilemmas and conundrums; namely... "Why do the righteous suffer?"
Pete Ruckman's stab at JOB is a strange and marvelous book, really... unlike any other commentary on this or any O.T. book you will ever find. The main reason for this is that Dr. Pete's starting point [as in all his commentaries] is that the KJV 1611 text is perfect and infallible. Say what you will about this... but it DOES make a person's take on this most divergently translated of ALL Bible books totally unique. [And brother, UNIQUE is the word!]
First off, Ruckman finds all sorts of prophetic, tribulation and millenial references. Ssome are very convincing, some much less so. He also positively concludes-- in the face of virtually every other commentator-- that the human scribe of the book was one of it's characters, Elihu! This may sound weird, but Dr. Ruckman DOES actually show that this is clearly demonstrable from the text of the King James [read it and you will see his reasoning.]
Also--and quite uniquely and effectively I might add-- Ruck uses gut-wrenching stories from church history and such varied books as Remarque's ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and Wurmbrand's TORTURED FOR CHRIST to back up Job's theses. I like these passages a lot, actually, but be warned... they keep this being a "family commentary."
His last 5 chapters [on the final summation by Jehovah Himself-- "Where were you?", etc.] is a masterful defense of God's ultimate justification of Himself in JOB. You have to read it and see what I mean.
Also, the extended passage on Job 33 ["delivered from the pit" or in Ruckman's phrase "RFD: Rescued from the dump"] makes me cry every time I read it. It is one of the best celebrations of simple Biblical salvation I have ever read I am glad doc did so much reading in his life. He mentally collected a whole storehouse of salvation stories alone, and i love it when he relays them like this!
My only complaint with this amazing tome is that Ruckman takes entirely too much time to trash other commentators. I know why he does this so repetitiously, but it really does get tiresome. In fact, if much of this material were cut the commentary would literally be about 200 pages thinner!
Still... it is an absolutely one-of-a-kind reading experience. I highly recommend it, no matter where you stand on Ruckman.