Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics
Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics

Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics

in Continental Commentary

by Jacob Milgrom

4.5 Rank Score: 5.1 from 6 reviews, 0 featured collections, and 4 user libraries
Pages 412 pages
Publisher Fortress Press
Published 2004
ISBN-13 9780800695149
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.


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This is a helpful, somewhat more concise summary of Milgrom thoughts on Leviticus for those who do not wish to wade through his 3-volume Anchor commentary. It offers an insightful, Jewish counterpoint to evangelical commentaries like Wenham’s, but I would not recommend it on its own because it does not do a verse-by-verse analysis. Instead the bulk of the book is made up of short topical essays (that in other commentaries would be called “excurses”). Still, this is a thought-provoking book by an expert on Leviticus.
Jacob Milgrom is a Jewish scholar who has spent a lifetime studying Leviticus.
Jacob Milgrom is considered by many to be the world's foremost expert on the book of Leviticus. He has written a massive (2500 page) three-volume commentary on Leviticus in the Anchor Bible series. The Continental Commentary is a more accessible version, without all the technical details. I haven't ranked it higher because Milgrom approaches Leviticus from an unnecessarily critical stance. [Full Review]
You can find Milgrom's conclusions from his longer Anchor Bible commentaries with some - but nowhere near as much - support in his volume on Leviticus in the Continental Commentary series, an odd duck in that series for at least two reasons. One is that it isn't a translation of a continental scholar's work but was first written in English. The other is that it's a more popularized work based on a more detailed commentary, and this series tends to be almost as detailed as the Anchor Bible series. In this case, popularizing doesn't mean making it an exposition, however. Three huge volumes shortened into one shorter one can still be extremely detailed, and this may be a very helpful way to access Milgrom's work for those who don't have the time, training, or moneybags to make good use of Milgrom's longer commentary. The downside, of course, is that you lose over something over 2300 pages in the distillation (though that includes the huge index and bibliography of the AB volumes). [Full Review]
Leviticus by Jacob Milgrom, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Berkeley, is part of the Continental Commentary series published by Fortress Press. The purpose of the series is to provide commentaries by scholars outside of the United States, primarily from Europe. Milgrom, however, was invited to write on Leviticus because of his extensive research and writing in the area. He is author of several works on Leviticus, including the three-volume commentary on Leviticus for the Anchor Bible series. The present commentary is not intended to be a technical work like Milgrom’s Anchor Bible commentaries. Instead, he provides a concise look at the book of Leviticus by dealing with key elements of each chapter and with underlying themes that run throughout the book. Milgrom notes the Protestant hesitancy that he has experienced to study and teach from the book of Leviticus. Its ritualized nature seems foreign to many Christians. However, Milgrom believes the importance of studying the book of Leviticus is found in a proper perspective of its rituals. Underlying the rituals of Leviticus is the idea of values that show how one is to relate to God and to others. This concept of values plays a central role in Milgrom’s commentary. Rituals are not to be seen as an end in themselves. Instead, they provide opportunities to teach the community’s values. “To be sure, when rituals fail to concretize our theological commitment they become physical oddities, superstitions, or small idolatries” (1). [Full Review]