Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
A fine theological commentary.
I just finished a devotional journey of reading through the book of Leviticus alongside Balentine's commentary. And, quite honestly, it was one of the best devotional experiences of my life. Balentine is a wonderful writer, and one of the only complaints I have is that separate sections of just pure reflections were few and far between. He does a great job of connecting the seemingly irrelevant, ritualistic stipulations of Leviticus to our modern understandings of worshipping God. In particular I enjoyed his continual stating that Leviticus is a book that combines belief with action: "The measure of Israel's obedience to God is not only the purity of the rituals; it is also the morality of its everyday conduct" (153). The sad thing is that most folks will still tend to ignore the book of Leviticus in their sermon circulation. However, if you are one of those few who is brave enough to tackle Leviticus, this is by far the best resource available.
Samuel Balentine's Interpretation volume (2002) is from one of the more mainstream expositional series. This series in general tends to be somewhat less friendly to evangelical views and more in line with critical scholarship than most expositional series. Balentine's study reflects his academic expertise on ritual, putting in popular form many of the conclusions of Jacob Milgrom's work, along with other work by Mary Douglas and Frank Gorman. One reviewer I read says this commentary emphasizes theology, but another says it occasionally focuses too much on anthropology at the expense of theology. Balentine is interested in connections with the New Testament and questions of contemporary significance. Balentine does not shy away from seeing the sexual conduct issue in chs.18-20 as central to the proper response to the presence of God among his people, and thus he does not relativize sexual prohibitions the way some do today. Even so, he rightly recognizes that those chapters speak only of behavior, not of internals, and it does not do to derive from them a view on what the Torah says about homosexuality as a modern social construct having to do with attraction to people of the same sex. It simply condemns homosexual sexual behavior. The balance he displays on this particular issue is what seems to me to be lacking in many treatments of the issue from people on both sides. [Full Review]