On Leviticus

Besides Mary Douglas’ anthropological commentary on Leviticus as Literature, the commentary by Ephraim Radner in the Brazos Theological Commentary series is useful. From the introduction:

The letter to the Hebrews, in fact, locates the work of God depicted in Leviticus in the actual body of Christ. This underlying reality, grasped by Origen and made central in all subsequent Christian commentary, includes not only the more obvious sacrificial details of the book, but also the communal laws of Israel’s familial and civic relationships, whose referents must ultimately extend to the church as members of Christ. More broadly, the body of Christ in its personal and ecclesial aspects is seen to be the vehicle by which all of creation is brought into the reconciling purpose of God (Col. 1:15-20). Thus, it persists as the referent even of the disparate details of animal and plant existence that populate the text within its legal demarcations. The world-historical character of the exposition in Hebrews of the fate of Christ’s body demanded such a sweep (Heb. 1:1-3), and, at least through the seventeenth century, it still informed the reading of Leviticus in a crucial way, as Andrew Willet’s elaborate 1631 [anglican] commentary shows. Just as the Son and the Father are one (John 10:30), and whoever sees the Son has seen the Father (12:45), so the divine will behind the law of Leviticus finds its formal exposition within the body of the Son himself as it reorders the whole of creation.

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