Publisher Zondervan Academic
A careful, scholarly look at the Book of Leviticus specifically created for pastors and teachers. Offering an original translation together with an exegetical outline, Sklar's passage-by-passage commentary provides in-depth analysis and interpretation of the Hebrew text while illuminating each section's key ideas, literary context, structure, and canonical and practical significance.
In this commentary, Sklar, a gifted teacher and brilliant scholar, is able to explain a difficult book in a way that will help anyone—pastor, Bible teacher, serious Bible student, and fellow scholar—better understand the Scriptures. More importantly, Sklar's love of God is evident and his readers will see the triune God exalted at every turn.
It was my honor and privilege to have studied Hebrew under leading Leviticus scholar, Dr. Jay Sklar (pictured) at Covenant Theological Seminary. In the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament, Jay does that which he does best, he un-muddies the water. Through careful exposition of the original text, he makes the hard-to-understand things both understandable and relatable. He does this by first considering the original context of Leviticus, the customs of the culture to which the exodus Israelites were subjected and of how God had come to dwell with them as their King. Of how God was calling them to “human flourishing” through the aligning of their hearts with His own heart; to reorient their way of thinking, to change their way of life to that of His creational design so as to be a blessing to the surrounding nations as His treasured people. Second, in the application sections Jay demonstrates how 21st Century Christians can and must do the same as a witness to the world through our union with Christ. As part of this, he does not shy away from the cultural hot-button topics of today––namely, human sexuality and slavery. Instead, he addresses them fully, being careful to accurately and respectfully present all modern argumentation and then to present a thoroughly biblical, contextually relevant (both then and now), God-glorifying response. Once again doing so through the lens of God’s original creation as well as pointing to its glorious restoration (upon Christ’s return) where our King Jesus will dwell in the midst of His covenant people who will experience eternal human flourishing. So, as it concerns your own study of Leviticus, in the words of Jay, “start with the Bible, not the commentary.” And as you do so, in my own words, “make sure Jay’s ZECOT on Leviticus is within reach.” I received an advanced copy of this commentary from Zondervan Academic. Zondervan did not place any requirements or conditions on my review as a condition of receiving a complimentary copy.
TL;DR: If you are a preacher, you will enrich your people’s understanding of God, and His word by preaching through Leviticus – and you need this commentary to help you do that. The book of Leviticus is an oft-neglected book of the bible, but it presents the beautiful hope of God’s presence dwelling among us. But how to preach and teach this book? As a pastor, I have decided to spend several months doing just this – preaching a series of 10 messages, and teaching an adult-education class on this topic. I must confess, this felt like an ambitious task, and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to tackle it. It was around this time that I became aware of Jay Sklar’s commentary on the book of Leviticus. It’s hard for me to overstate how helpful this commentary has been. Commentaries can often veer into one of two sides of the road: Some wade so deeply into the textual, historical, and technical background of a text as to generally be unhelpful to a preacher seeking to explain the text faithfully and apply it to the everyday life of a believer. Others focus so much on trying to be practical that they fail to do justice to the linguistic, and literary background of the text, leaving a diligent pastor wishing for some more exegetical insight (and maybe even wondering how the author came to their application from a text when the author fails to “show their work). This commentary, however, manages to hold a solid middle-of-the-road approach that blends solid exegetical work with thoughtful and helpful application. Let me offer a few of the strengths. First off, the introduction alone is worth the price of the book because it lays a clear foundation that will inform the theology of the book as a whole. Particularly helpful are the explanations of the key concepts of clean and unclean, atonement, and the tabernacle. Without a clear understanding of these ideas, the rest of the book will remain foggy. Second, the layout of each section within the commentary was easy to follow, and generally easty to understand. Each section begins with the pericope laid out with Hebrew text next to the English outline. This will appeal to those who have a greater understanding of Hebrew – but those who don’t can easily skip over these sections. Following this is the commentary on the text, explaining the meaning of each passage. The exegesis is sound, and although I didn’t agree with every exegetical conclusion II could see clearly the reasoning behind each point being made. Sklar makes good use of other important scholars on this work (Wenham gets extensive attention), but not so much that the work reads like a book report of what other authors have said. There are a couple of places that I found the text to be a bit too dense for my taste, but I was able to move quickly past those sections back into what I found to be helpful. The author uses illustrations and examples that are easy to follow, which is helpful when working with a text where there is such a wide gap between “then and there” and “here and now.” Finally, I would say that the most helpful part (at least for preaching) is the part at the end of each section that offers reflection and application to today’s culture. It can sometimes be difficult to apply texts that are so different from our day and age – especially when the text includes concepts like skin lesions, clean and unclean animals, and slaughtering animals in a tent in the wilderness. However, I found Sklar’s approach helpful. He draws from the text concepts that are abstract enough (while still being faithful to the text) and then offers suggested ways that these might be applied today. This is, of course, the job of a preacher – and it’s clear that Sklar has experience in this work, and is thinking of the preacher when writing this commentary. Some readers may find this work too dense – that’s a fair point. It’s worth noting that there are some sections in the commentary that are taken from his earlier work on Leviticus (The Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series) which means that for some, having both books on their bookshelf won’t be necessary. A lay-person looking for a good resource that will introduce the themes of Leviticus and offer a basic explanation, the TOTC may be sufficient. But for those looking to go deeper, this commentary is the way to go. So – if you are a preacher, your congregation needs to hear from this book of the bible – and they probably haven’t yet! This is your opportunity to dig into the themes of God’s presence dwelling among his people, and what the implications of that are for us today. But, don’t try taking on that task alone! You need a guide with experience and expertise in the book of Leviticus, and Jay Sklar is that person, and this is that guidebook. ** I have received a complimentary copy of this work for the purposes of writing this review, but neither the author, nor the publisher has placed any conditions on my review; what is written here is an objective and honest assessment of this work. **
Excellent commentary. Sklar provides accessible scholarship, relevant application, insightful christocentricity, and a clear organizational structure. This commentary combines depth of scholarship with ease of understanding. Even those with little biblical knowledge or background will find this book accessible, useful, and applicable to living as a Christian today. In addition, Sklar’s analysis continually points to Jesus, not simplistically, but by revealing how Leviticus provides depth, background, and nuance to the perfect work of Jesus Christ. Finally, while the commentary is substantial, the organizational structure allows a busy pastor or student to readily get the information they need. Highly recommended! I have received a complimentary copy but Zondervan Academic has not placed any requirements or conditions on my review as a condition of receiving the complimentary copy.
This is an awesome commentary on Leviticus. His passion for Leviticus and its significance in the cannon is clearly evident. I seems like Sklar went all out in providing students, pastors and teachers an outstanding resource. Sklar also wrote a commentary on Leviticus in the Tyndale series, and material from that commentary is incorporated in this newer edition. For this reason, I’d recommend his newer ZECOT commentary over the older TOTC.
When I heard that this commentary was being published, I was thrilled. While in seminary to get my MDiv, I had audited a ThM level class on the book of Leviticus, taught by Dr. Jay Sklar. That class gave me such an appreciation for the book of Leviticus. Leviticus truly is a book that teaches us about the grace of God. I know we don’t often think of the book that way, but it is true: if we are to have God as our neighbor, God in his grace must make a way for us to be able to be present with him. I have perused the “Leviticus” commentary in the Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament series. I have not yet read the commentary in-depth, as I am not currently teaching Leviticus. My initial thoughts are that it is an excellent commentary for pastors, lay leaders, students, and anyone who is willing to do the work of reading this book. Although the book of Leviticus is found difficult to understand by many modern readers, this commentary is very readable and accessible. I did receive a complimentary copy of this commentary, but Zondervan Academic has not placed any requirements or conditions on my review as a condition for receiving a complimentary copy. Here’s what I appreciate: - Each pericope is treated comprehensively. The context is considered, the main idea is presented, the exegetical outline is listed, issues of structure and literary form are addressed, there is an explanation of the text, and finally there is a section exploring the canonical and theological significance. - It is incredibly readable. The prose is simple and straightforward. It avoids technical phrases as much as possible. It explains vocabulary when technical phrases are used. - The introduction frames well the interpretive issues. - The structure of the commentary continually keeps the overall flow of Leviticus in mind. The outlines are clear and helpful. This continual big picture perspective is incredibly valuable. - The explanations of the biblical text are thorough without being unnecessarily long. - The translations of the Hebrew text make it easy for the reader to follow: the translations are all in charts with three columns. The three columns include: the Hebrew, the English translation, and a detail outline. I love this. - The footnotes give both the source for the argument in the main text, as well as more detailed scholarly argument. I like the footnote rather than endnote style. - By continually tying together the details of any particular text with the unfolding of the larger context, the meaning of the text is made very clear. - The canonical and theological significance portion for each text is rich with thoughtful implications and applications of that text. The points in the canonical/theological section clearly are intended to help pastors think through how to preach and teach this book. - The author clearly is aware of and addresses concerns modern readers have when reading Leviticus.
Dr. Jay Sklar is a master at taking complex ideas and communicating them in understandable and engaging ways. Though this commentary series is written for the pastor or teacher, Sklar's explanations of the Hebrew language, the historical context, and the religious practices of ancient Israel are very accessible. The ZECOT format is, in my opinion, the most helpful commentary format out there. Each section offers both broad summaries and detailed analysis, both explanation and application of the text. Sklar also includes many helpful diagrams and excursuses at points where more clarification is needed. It is a large volume, but it never feels laborious. As a preaching pastor, I especially appreciate the "Canonical and Theological Significance" at the end of each section, which includes applications and preaching points that are rooted in the original context yet still very relevant for the Christian today. It is also worth noting that Sklar does an excellent job at handling the contentious topics of Leviticus, giving them the breadth and sensitivity they deserve. Sklar anticipates the well-meaning objections and addresses them respectfully, but without compromise to the authoritative teaching of Scripture. Perhaps this commentary's greatest strength is Sklar's persistent effort to explain God's heart behind His law. This, unfortunately, is too frequently ignored in other commentaries on Leviticus. While the law needs to be understood in its historical context, the law is from God Himself, revealing His character, His cares, and His mission. A historical and theological context are required to fully understand the message of Leviticus. Sklar gives special attention to both. He also demonstrates each step of the way how Levitical law anticipates and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. (I have received a complimentary copy but Zondervan Academic has not placed any requirements or conditions on my review as a condition of receiving the complimentary copy.)
I just received Jay Sklar’s latest and magisterial work, Leviticus, from within the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament series. This is by far the most engaging commentary I have read with respect to the book of Leviticus. Dr. Sklar brings his years of close research to full scope and depth, building upon his Sin, Impurity, Sacrifice, Atonement: The Priestly Conceptions and his Tyndale Old Testament Leviticus commentary and providing students and scholars alike a tremendous overview of the theological thrust of the book as well as insightful exegesis, in addition to the discourse analysis feature so welcome in this Zondervan series. This is an extremely accessible commentary for students and pastors, as well as those engaged in academic work in the book of Leviticus. Professor Sklar has succeeded in opening up the book of Leviticus and has provided a compelling framework for relishing this OT primer for living as the priestly people of God. I have received a complimentary copy but Zondervan Academic has not placed any requirements or conditions on my review as a condition of receiving the complimentary copy. Rev Martin L Hawley, PhD