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Leviticus (Continental Commentary) (Continental Commentaries Series) [Hardcover]

By Jacob Milgrom (Author)
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Item description for Leviticus (Continental Commentary) (Continental Commentaries Series) by Jacob Milgrom...

Building upon his life-long work on the Book of Leviticus, Milgrom makes this book accessible to all readers. He demonstrates the logic of Israel's sacrificial system, the ethical dimensions of ancient worship, and the priestly forms of ritual. ''Values are what Leviticus is all about. They pervade every chapter and almost every verse. You may be surprised to read this, since the dominant view of Leviticus is that it consists only of rituals, such as sacrifices and impurities. This, too, is true: Leviticus does discuss rituals. However, underlying the rituals, the careful reader will find an intricate web of values that purports to model how we should relate to God and to each other.'' _ from the Introduction

Publishers Description
Building upon his life-long work on the Book of Leviticus, Jacob Milgrom makes this book accessible to all readers. He demonstrates the logic of Israel's sacrificial system, the ethical dimensions of ancient worship, and the priestly forms of ritual.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Augsberg Fortress - eBooks Account
Pages   388
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.5" Width: 6.56" Height: 1.19"
Weight:   1.85 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 21, 2004
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Edition  New  
Series  Continental Commentaries  
ISBN  0800695143  
ISBN13  9780800695149  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jacob Milgrom

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jacob Milgrom is Emeritus Professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of California, Berkeley, and a widely published author. His books include Studies in Levitical Terminology (1970), Cult and Conscience (1976), Numbers (1990), and Leviticus (3 vols.; 1991-2001).

Jacob Milgrom lived in Jerusalem. Jacob Milgrom was born in 1923 and died in 2010.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Old Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General

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Books > Bible Study > Commentaries > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Leviticus (Continental Commentary) (Continental Commentaries Series)?

Distilled expertise  May 17, 2005
In the world of Leviticus scholarship, Milgrom stands head and shoulders above all other contributors. All other scholarship on Leviticus largely springs from his work.

So, for those without the time, money and/or inclination to wade through his magisterial three volume commentary in the Anchor Bible Series, it is a treat to have it distilled into delightful prose and reasonable length (with help from Milgrom's granddaughter Talia Milgrom-Elcott, according to the preface pXIII)!

There are occasions where one might wish for more extensive argument, but of course, the Anchor commentaries may be consulted if you have access to a theological library.

Milgrom is generally a sane exegete, though some positions seem oddly eccentric. For example, he improbably treats the grain offering of Lev 2 as a poor man's burnt offering (p25). But the 'grain offering' is always catalogued separately both in Leviticus and throughout scripture (contrast the grain version of the sin/purification offering, 5:11-13); the frankincense (2:1) would surely cost more than the birds (1:14-17); and the distinctive symbolism of complete burning, which lies at the heart of the burnt offering, is absent.

At times he makes the text congruous with modern sensibilities on the value of animal life, and he treats the text as a wholesale polemic against the existence of the demonic. In neither case did I find him persuasive.

However, his illustration of the sanctuary in terms of a "Priestly Picture of Dorian Gray" is invaluable and a preacher's delight. His discussion of the clean/unclean texts regarding bodily emissions is the first convincing explanation I have read.

In addition to his insights on Leviticus, he has included an excursus on the Red Cow ritual of Numbers 19 - one of Milgrom's most notable and persuasive solutions to a long-standing conundrum of torah scholarship (p39-41).

Of course Milgrom writes from a Jewish perspective so Christian readers may want to supplement this commentary with another, such as Hartley (WBC); Wenham (NICOT); Rooker (NAC); Ballentine (Interpretation) or Gorman (ITC), all of which are recommendable. A supplementary and scholarly Jewish perspective is found in Levine (JPS Torah), but Milgrom is generally the more sensible guide.

At such an economical price this commentary can be recommended to preachers and students alike. Disagreements should not be construed as reservations about the invaluable service given to us in understanding the scriptures by Professor Milgrom. More than five stars, were it possible.
The best one volume commentary on Leviticus available!  Jul 22, 2004
Few modern Bible scholars have revolutionized the study of one book to the extent Jacob Milgrom has revolutionized the study of Leviticus. Milgrom's massive three volume commentary on Leviticus in the Anchor Bible series, exceeding 2500 pages, is an exhaustive and sometimes exhausting study that addresses virtually every issue raised in Leviticus. (I have also reviewed for this site the Anchor Bible commentary on Leviticus by Milgrom and you might want to read those reviews.)

This more modest volume, issued by Fortress Press, can best be described as a condensation of Milgrom?s Anchor Bible commentary. Milgrom eliminates almost all his discussion of the dating of the text, arcane questions of etymology, syntax and grammar, and his thorough reviews of scholarly opinions, both modern and ancient, on various issues. Instead, Milgrom's concentrates on explaining the basics of Leviticus when viewed within the context of the ancient world.

Milgrom argues that the authors of Leviticus, which he identifies as "P" (Priestly source, chiefly Lev. 1-16) and "H" (Holiness source, chiefly Lev. 17-27), while preserving many rituals and customs that Israel shared with its neighbors, infused them with a profound theology unique to Israel, a theology founded upon a radical monotheism that banished demons from the world and posited man?s choices as the chief source of good and evil.

Readers who don't want to shell out more than $100 for the three volume Anchor Bible commentary and wade through thousands of pages of text will find in this more modest volume most of Milgrom's principal insights.

Milgrom explains how P transformed the ancient concept of purity and impurity so that it became part of an overall system reflecting profound values of life and death, with holiness being linked to life and impurity to death. Milgrom argues that P limited the physical causes of impurity to a mere handful all of which are connected with death. In contrast, P taught that the chief source of impurity was man?s sin, the more serious the sin the more severe the impurity it created. Man?s sin generates impurity which pollutes the Tabernacle and, if not expurgated by sincere repentance and sacrifice, will drive God?s presence from the Tabernacle. Milgrom also demonstrates how the dietary laws in Leviticus are part of an overall ethos which seeks to limit human consumption of meat and to instill in Israel an abiding respect for life, both animal and human.

Milgrom also argues that H built upon the foundation laid by P, expanding the concept of holiness to encompass not just the Tabernacle/Temple but the entire land of Israel, which according to H absorbed the impurities caused by the people's sins. H teaches that if the people continue in their sinful ways by disobeying God, the land will vomit the people out and people will not be permitted to return from exile until they have repented and the purity of the land has been restored by the passage of time. H, moreover, transforms P by teaching that holiness is not limited to the priesthood but is attainable by all of Israel. H commands that the priests to maintain their holiness and the people to attain holiness, but the means of maintaining and attaining holiness are the same - obedience to God's commandments.

To be precise, it is not accurate to say that according to Milgrom, H teaches that the land of Israel is holy. In fact, Milgrom argues that neither P nor H label the land as holy. However, according to Milgrom, H teaches that the land is susceptible to pollution caused by the people's sins. Thus the people and the land share a common bond - both are susceptible to impurity and the holiness of the land depends upon the conduct of those living on it. Thus, Milgrom says, H teaches on the one hand that both the land and the people are defiled by the people's sins and, on the other hand, the people explicitly and the land implicitly are sanctified by the people's obedience to God's commands. For H, the holiness of the people is a goal, not yet attained, and therefore the land is not yet holy. However, holiness for both is the goal.

I struggled considering whether to give this volume the highest rating. Overall, Milgrom's Anchor Bible commentary on Leviticus is better, but this volume does a tremendous job of serving the needs of readers who don't have the time or the money to purchase and study the Anchor commentary. Moreover, this shorter commentary contains several homiletic reflections by Milgrom that do not appear in his more scholarly Anchor Bible commentary. If you want a relatively inexpensive and manageable commentary on Leviticus and don't mind missing many of the more esoteric but equally enlightening insights in the Anchor Bible commentary which have been omitted due to the constraints of this series, this shorter commentary by Milgrom is for you. Myself, I prefer my Prometheus unbound!

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