Book Review: The Book Of Leviticus In The Revised Version

The Book Of Leviticus In The Revised Version, with Introduction And Notes, by A.T. Chapman and A.W. Streane

This book is worse than useless.  I read this book because it was one of the few I was able to find that dealt with the wave sheaf offering, which is a subject far more suited to sermon messages than to published works, it would appear.  That said, this book is not only written without a great deal of scriptural knowledge on the part of its authors, but the fact that the authors of the book hold to the documentary hypothesis, their supposed knowledge is less than nothing because their beliefs about the Bible are wishful thinking and speculations based on evolutionary hypotheses that simply do not hold water.  The fact that the authors appear so impressed with their ideas about the textual history of the book of Leviticus (and presumably other books of the Bible) and with their ability to find rare biblical words in later nonbiblical texts does not hide the fact that the authors have little interest in or knowledge of the continuing validity of the moral law or the symbolic purposes of the sacrificial law.  Even their mention of the wave sheaf focuses more on a supposed aspect of meat involved in the sacrifice based on their reading of the Revised Version rather than a sound exegesis of the passage and its meaning.

This book is less than 250 pages but it could easily have been far less and been far better for it.  The introduction to this book takes up 40 pages and has the authors showing off their belief in the Holiness and Priestly codes and their origins and textual history while also discussing what sacrifices mean to them, without getting to any moral aspects of Leviticus, including the Sabbath.  Even the religious value of the book, the last part of the introduction, completely fails to show a religious value that the authors believe that Leviticus still has.  The next 150 pages or so are spent on a discussion of the book of Leviticus itself, which contains more discussion of the author’s supposed knowledge of words and their similarities as clues to the book’s compositional history that is bereft of theological worth.  Finally, the book ends with a series of appendices that contain more opportunities for the authors to beclown themselves by thinking that they are more knowledgeable about the text than they end up being, through a discussion of such aspects as critical theory, the holiness and priestly codes, the wave sheaf, and the Azazel sacrifice.  Again, the authors care almost nothing about the Sabbath or clean and unclean meats or laws of sexual morality, all of which remain in effect.

What is the value of a book like this?  If you want to read the book of Leviticus, which is the main contents of the book, then you would do better to read it out of other Bible translations that have a greater fidelity to the Hebrew text and that don’t contain the authors’ distracting and erroneous speculations about the writing and textual history of the text, given that there are few discussions of the moral meaning of the laws of the book.  Most of the additional materials in this book that are not the book of Leviticus with useless footnotes are materials that show the authors’ professed knowledge about the book that ends up being mistaken and therefore worse than ignorance.  In reading this book one is struck by the understanding that the authors would have been better off by far if they had instead of writing the book while professing to be experts on its contents and textual history to have simply taken up a copy of the King James Version and sought to read it and apply it.  Unhappily for us, they did not do so.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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