I must confess. I have procrastinated reviewing Delivered from the Elements of the World. It’s not because it is a dull book; far from it. Rather, more than anything I’ve yet reviewed, I am daunted at the prospect of doing justice to this book’s vastness and creativity. Peter Leithart is known to be a singular, provocative and eloquent thinker, and Delivered from the Elements of the World is surely his magnum opus.
Leviticus is a difficult book to understand, and quite the challenge for pastors and teachers. One of the difficulties is that it’s impossible to dip one’s toe in and expect any payoff. To truly understand and benefit, one must plunge into the deep end of the Levitical world of sacrifices, rituals, and purity laws. That’s to say, the application is found in the strange and complex details, not apart from them. At the same time, it can become easy to start sinking in the details. What one needs is a sure-handed help to keep one’s head above the water; one that not only understands the details, but is able to simplify them and direct one to what matters most. This is exactly what one finds in the Tyndale (TOTC) Leviticus commentary by Jay Sklar. Sklar is fluent with Leviticus, but also gifted at clarifying the hazy, or bringing close the distant.
Leviticus is a difficult book. The Levitical land is littered with detailed and verbose laws concerning cleanliness and uncleanliness, priestly garments, proper and improper food, bodily discharges, and the proper way to kill an animal. What’s more, scattered across the landscape are bodies of well meaning poor souls who resolved to read the Bible in a year. As difficult as the Bible can be at times, I am a firm believer that the books that demand a little more patience and hard work from their readers are always rewarding. Such is the case with Leviticus, a book that – along with 1 Maccabees – is often the punchline response to, “hey, what are you preaching from this Sunday?”. However, as with many foreign lands, Leviticus is in fact a rich and beautiful place once you begin to understand the accent and customs. L. Michael Morales has journeyed long in Leviticus and lived to tell the tale, and he has written a guide for us interested travelers through this treacherous terrain. This book is Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? (hereafter Who Shall Ascend) in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series; a series that is as excellent as its covers are bland.