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Leviticus Interpretation (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching) [Paperback]

Samuel E. Balentine

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Book Description

29 Dec 2011 Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching
This volume in the popular Interpretation series presents the book of Leviticus. It focuses on the history of Israel during this time when Israel's life was marked by the various ritual sacrifices and observances commanded by God for the ordering of the nation's life.Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching is a distinctive resource for those who interpret the Bible in the church. Planned and written specifically for teaching and preaching needs, this critically acclaimed biblical commentary is a major contribution to scholarship and ministry.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (29 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664238807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664238803
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,547,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Samuel E. Balentine is Professor of Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. He is the author of The Torah's Vision of Worship.

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First Sentence
Of the many challenges that come with the commission to write a commentary on Leviticus, perhaps the biggest is the introduction. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb analysis of the Bible’s third book, but this commentary certainly is not for those without discipline or conviction. 26 Dec 2013
By C.H.E. Sadaphal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Many have assumed that ancient Israel’s priestly tradition (the Levites) is preoccupied with arcane ritual matters largely unrelated to our modern world. This is in fact false, because the main theme of Leviticus proclaims to all followers of Yahweh: “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (19:2). Leviticus describes to all how to be holy, and is addressed not only to the Levites but to “all the sons Israel” as well. Balentine excels in explaining God’s explicit prescriptions for holiness—conduct within the tabernacle to maintain a suitable dwelling place for God, and conduct in everyday life that nurtures, sustains, and maintains interpersonal relationships, as well as a divinely-inspired morality. This morality in turn supports a healthy and vibrant society.

Thousands of years ago, certain mechanisms for the “holy prescription” may have differed (e.g. burnt and peace offerings), but the divine command to separate from the secular world so that we may distinguish ourselves as a people devout to Christ still remains. A recurring theme is that “God’s creational order is generative of and sustained by human observance of an imaging ritual order” (pg. 4).

Further, as Balentine intelligently illustrates, throughout Leviticus, we find God “in the details” and are able to formalize a picture of how devout living is predicated upon ritualized practices: “Just as a person’s thoughts may be actualized in behavior that is destructive, so a person’s resolve to address that destruction must be actualized in behavior that concretizes action” (pg 56).

Personally, I found the author’s analysis of chapters 18 and 19 particularly interesting, as he emphasizes how we treat each other to stand on equal footing as how we treat God—unethical behavior can even be viewed as more serious than religious transgressions. What then follows is that to “love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18) implies both a mental attitude as well as action; and, since love is a proactive command, a decent and just society not only involves passive alienation but active engagement.

In sum, the book will entice you to realize that every area of life should be subjected to scrutiny in order to fall in line with God’s holy direction.

Let’s face facts: Leviticus purely as text is dry, is deficient in “thrills”, and lacks any significant colorful stories. Hence, this book is certainly not for the casual reader, and I would assume all interested parties are either clergy, or enrolled in a graduate level theology education program.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Commentary on Leviticus 6 Feb 2013
By Tyler Tankersley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just finished a devotional journey of reading through the book of Leviticus alongside Balentine's commentary. And, quite honestly, it was one of the best devotional experiences of my life. Balentine is a wonderful writer, and one of the only complaints I have is that separate sections of just pure reflections were few and far between. He does a great job of connecting the seemingly irrelevant, ritualistic stipulations of Leviticus to our modern understandings of worshipping God. In particular I enjoyed his continual stating that Leviticus is a book that combines belief with action: "The measure of Israel's obedience to God is not only the purity of the rituals; it is also the morality of its everyday conduct" (153). The sad thing is that most folks will still tend to ignore the book of Leviticus in their sermon circulation. However, if you are one of those few who is brave enough to tackle Leviticus, this is by far the best resource available.
5.0 out of 5 stars Leviticus Remade, A World Remade 1 May 2014
By Jon Wymer - Published on Amazon.com
I have a three-year professional degree in divinity, and have worked in parish ministry for nearly seven years. Leviticus scares me! This is a book, as Balentine notes, that has been the stumbling block of many a Bible reading program that started strong in Genesis around the first of the year.

Balentine's Leviticus is a readable commentary that interacts with critical issues while explaining Leviticus in terms of God's seven-fold creating work. I particularly like the references Balentine makes to literature and culture in illustration of his remarks.

According to this reading (which I find convincing), Leviticus is far from a boring book of arbitrary laws. Instead, the sacrificial system, the priesthood, and the purity codes are a self-reinforcing system emanating from God's seven days of creation and in fact enacting the seven-fold creation in concrete non-abstract rituals and words. Those aspects of Leviticus which seem arcane to you may still seem so after reading this commentary, but my guess is that Balentine's solid work will set you down a new path of understanding this difficult book. Material is provided that seriously undermines the account of Leviticus as simply a hierarchical patriarchal book, including significant remarks on the egalitarian emphasis of the book and particularly on the prohibitions against homosexual behavior which have made the rounds in present-day cultural debates.

If you want to love the Old Testament but can't bring yourself to do it, read this book.
1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Introduction of Balentine's Commentary on Leviticus 30 May 2008
By Barry C. Gaynor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Introduction section of Samuel Balentine's Commentary on Leviticus is brilliant. (I just completed reading this fairly lengthy introduction section [about twenty pages in length]; and although I only glanced at the main body of the book, but I felt compelled to experss my strong approval for what is obvously a fine work.)

I was quite impressed by his thorough knowledge of the book of Leviticus (as well as the other books of the Torah) and his academic expertise, which is clearly extensive. Well done!

I look forward to reading the remainder of the book and other works by this author.

--Barry Gaynor, M. Div., M.S.W.
Leviticus (Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching)
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