Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous
WTJ 71:2 (Fall 2009) p. 495
Reviews Of Books
Robert Vasholz, Leviticus: A Mentor Commentary. Fearn, Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2007. Pp. 372. $29.99, cloth.
The world presented in the book of Leviticus is often foreign to modern readers. In the Western world, sacrificial animals and a caste of priests are, for most, an unfamiliar, if not unimaginable sight. In the realm of commentaries on Scripture, fewer commentaries have been written on Leviticus than on most other books. It is even more rare to find ministers who feel they have a strong enough grasp of this book in order to preach from it to the profit of their congregations. Robert Vasholz has done the church a great service in his Leviticus: A Mentor Commentary by making perspicuous the message of the third book of the Pentateuch. This commentary is well researched, well written, concise in its discussions, and makes Leviticus as a whole easy to read.
The commentary is a verse-by-verse exposition of Leviticus. Vasholz has divided his work into thirty-five chapters, under two organizational principles that distinguish his work from most other commentaries on this book. Instead of merely explaining each word and verse as they appear in the text, Vasholz writes:
I weighed carefully the value of adding one more commentary employing this approach to the list. Therefore, what I decided to do was to present Leviticus in a different manner, as the unfolding story of God’s Word to Moses, because, fundamentally, Leviticus is a narrative about God speaking to Moses repeatedly. Over and over and over, the Word of the Lord came to Moses and revealed his will to Moses for his people. While there is little narrative in the book itself, nevertheless it is a kind of history with numerous conversations between God and Moses as its centerpiece. (p. 11)
The other distinctive feature of this work is the forty exegetical essays dispersed throughout the text of the book, expanding upon topics relevant to the exposition at hand. Vasholz’s brief introduction emphasizes the backdrop of God’s covenant relationship to Israel. The Mosaic authorship of Leviticus is clearly affirmed (pp. 13-14), but Vasholz sends his reader to other, more thorough works on this subject rather than bog down his text with detailed argumentation.
The content of this commentary will be evaluated by summarizing some of its representative strengths and weaknesses. The strengths of this book consist in its brevity and clarity, the simplicity and readability of its explanations, and the in-text essays on various topics. The longest chapter is thirty pages (ch. 1) while the shortest chapter is four pages (ch. 6). On average, each chapter is ten pages or less. This means that the text of Leviticus has been bro...
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