This review appeared in the Jan-Mar 2007 vol. 164 no. 1 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
Leviticus EPEP BOOKS, Webster, NY January 1, 2005
Currid, Old Testament professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, points out that “Leviticus used to be the first book of the Bible read and studied by children in the synagogue. In the church, it is perhaps the last one read” (p. 15). However, he shows that the Book of Leviticus is essential in the study of the Book of Hebrews and in understanding the depth of human sinfulness in contrast to the holiness of God. The sacrificial system of Leviticus could not make people right with God; instead it pointed to Christ’s great, all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross. Three of the more important themes of Leviticus that relate to the New Testament are (a) the sacrificial system that has been fulfilled in the coming of Christ (Heb. 10:8–14); (b) the festival calendar that was extended so that the Feast of Unleavened Bread became Good Friday, the Feast of Harvest became Easter, and the Feast of Booths became Pentecost; and (c) the entire holiness code (Lev. 17–26) that deals with the issue of sanctification, a common theme in the New Testament (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:14–16) (pp. 21–26).
Currid provides solid exegesis in an accessible way, matched with practical application that displays the relevance of this Old Testament book for believers today. After dealing briefly with introductory matters, he discusses Leviticus as a series of manuals for worship. The first section (Lev. 1–7) is “a reference document for the worship rituals of ancient Israel. . . . These chapters constitute a directory for sacrifice in the tabernacle/temple of ancient Israel” (p. 27). The second section (Lev. 8–10) contains two manuals for worship, one for commoners and the other for the priests. It describes “various festivities marking the beginning of formal worship in Israel” (p. 102), including the ordination of the priesthood, the record of the first sacrifices by Aaron, and what happens when priests disobey the Lord (ibid.). The third section (Lev. 11–15) applies the principle found in 10:10 “to distinguish between the clean and unclean” (p. 139). The fourth section (Lev. 16) is about the duties of the high priest on the Day of Atonement. The “fact that the people are unable to keep the laws laid down in Leviticus is taken care of through the sacrificial system, which finds its ultimate climax in the Day of Atonement” (p. 212). The fifth section (Lev. 17–26) is an “entirely new directory, or manual . . . called the Holiness Code because the dominant theme of the segment is the concept of holiness” (p. 227). It is a guide on “how Israel is to be distinct, especially as it relates to the nations surrounding them” (ibid.). The sixth and final section (Lev. 27) seems to be an “appendix or addendum to the book. . . . [Yet] its style is close to that of other parts of the Leviticus legislation” (p. 362). This chapter’s placement “may be simply to reinforce the importance of funding the sanctuary . . . the central object in Israel’s worship” (ibid.).
This commentary shows that Leviticus is a book not only for Israel but also for the building up of the church. Currid gives insights into the historical purpose of the book and clear and concise applications for today’s reader. This and other expository volumes produced by this publisher are invaluable tools for ministers, theologians, and serious students of the Scriptures. They are both readable and user-friendly. Currid’s aplications of Leviticus clarify the historical meaning of Leviticus and relate it to New Testament doctrine. “One of the primary purposes of this commentary is to uncover, no matter how difficult it may prove, the abiding nature of this book and its relevance to Christians of all ages and times” (pp. 15–16).
—Larry J. Waters