Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous
WTJ 80:2 (Fall 2018) p. 361
Reviews Of Books
L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015. Pp. 349. $27.00, paper.
Perhaps as an implicit correction to the praxis of many Christians, L. Michael Morales’s argument is that the book of Leviticus is the central book of the Pentateuch, which “contains the heart of its theology and has much to unfold regarding the nature of God and the plight of humanity” (p. 9). His stated goal is “to provide the church with a theological entry into Leviticus in the context of both the Pentateuch and the New Testament,” with the ultimate desire of leading the Christian church “to a renewed glorying in her heavenly access to the Father through the new and living way” (p. 9). Morales argues that the main theme of Leviticus, the Pentateuch, and even the Bible as a whole, is “Yhwh’s opening a way for humanity to dwell in the divine Presence” (e.g., pp. 17–22, 39). This leads him to frame his work, even its title, by the question of the gate liturgy: “who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord?” (cf. Pss 15:1; 24:3).
After a prologue sets the stage for the work, extensive chapters on Genesis (“Longing for Eden”) and Exodus (“Returning to Eden”) provide the biblical context for his thorough walk through Leviticus. If Genesis begins with the heights of Eden, and humanity in Sabbath day communion with God (p. 47), the subsequent fall—where humanity’s purpose was lost (cf. Westermann)—leads to an ensuing narrative which is said to exhibit a downward movement that ends (with the death and burial of Joseph) in Sheol, the grave (p. 49). The book of Exodus is said to follow this with Israel’s rebirth out of the grave and into the divine presence (p. 74). Although Moses—the representative mediator—meets with Yhwh on Mount Sinai, the subsequent construction of the tabernacle and its filling with Yhwh’s glory leads to an unexpected crisis to end the book of Exodus: Moses is not able to enter the presence of Yhwh in the tabernacle (p. 107)! This is said to lead the reader to ask, “who shall ascend the mountain of Yhwh?” For Morales, the solution to this crisis is thoroughly developed in the book of Leviticus.
The heart of the book consists in three chapters that walk through the book of Leviticus. In a chapter on “Approaching the House of God” (Lev 1–10), Morales notes that the theological meaning of the tabernacle is twofold: it is “the dwelling place (miškān) of Yhwh” and it is a “tent of meeting” (
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