Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TMSJ 17:2 (Fall 2006) p. 231
Lloyd R. Bailey. Leviticus-Numbers. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary. Macon, Ga.: Smyth & Helwys, 2005. xxii + 648 pp. $65.00 (cloth). Reviewed by William D. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament.
Lloyd Bailey retired from his professorship in Hebrew Bible at the Divinity School, Duke University, and became a Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College and an Adjunct Professor at Methodist College. He has authored fifteen books and was one of the editors for The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: Supplementary Volume (Abingdon, 1976).
The Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary aims at being “a visually stimulating and user-friendly series that is as close to multimedia in print as possible” (xv). Much of the visual in this particular volume consists of various samples of art through the ages that reflect Leviticus and Numbers in some fashion. The accompanying CD includes a full-text PDF document of the volume that is fully searchable and allows copying of both text and illustrations for use in classroom instruction. Formatting for the volume accomplishes the visual and user-friendly aspects that present detailed information palatably.
Valuable discussions pepper the volume. One such is Bailey’s presentation of interpreting the food laws. He rightly concludes that the issue is actually “one of simple obedience to the Creator’s directives” (19). In addition, he exposes Western modernity’s focus “upon the autonomy of the self”—identifying this as “a rejection by creatures of their accountability to their Creator” (20). Yet another topic involves the repetitive nature of the sacrificial instructions in Leviticus 1–7 (57) and of the narrative in Numbers 7 (430). Such repetition “serves to drive the lesson home in a forceful and memorable way” (57). Readers will also find Bailey’s extended evaluation of various interpretive categories regarding food laws in Leviticus 11 clarifying and refreshing (129–39). This reviewer was pleasantly surprised by the author’s clear interpretive analysis of the ban on homosexuality in Lev 20:13, responding to seven erroneous popular claims about that text (245–56).
As good as some sections might be, a reader must use this volume with extreme caution. Bailey takes stances that are consistent with the Documentary Hypothesis (14–16) and antithetical to Mosaic authorship. Such an approach fragments the text of Leviticus into at least six different documents in six different time periods. One of his supports for this fragmentation of the text is the use of “the past tense a...
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