Review: Mark Rooker, Leviticus (New American Commentary)

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This is taken from my review of this book, 17 April 2002 (with some modifications).

Rooker does a good job of treating the book of Leviticus on a level designed for a pastor. By many accounts the best evangelical commentary on Leviticus in existence is Gordon Wenham's in the NICOT series, but that is getting more out-of-date. John Hartley's more recent one (Word Biblical Commentary) updates it well but is much harder to use if you don't have a strong Hebrew background. Some evangelicals might also raise questions about Hartley's attitude toward scripture, so there's need for a good, readable, recent commentary on this book from a solidly conservative position. Rooker's is probably the best to fill this need.

It's not overly scholarly to the point of making it hard for non-academic use. At the same time it's clear that Rooker has been informed by much serious scholarship, which is especially useful in updating Wenham's excellent work. Rooker knows the literature and uses it, sometimes giving arguments and sometimes just citing other places to look for more detailed discussion. Almost all of this is in the footnotes, making an easier read for those looking just for a straightforward discussion of the text.

What's most refreshing about this book is that, unlike many books on Leviticus intended for non-scholars, this treatment offers a reasonable, balanced understanding of Leviticus for the church. It's not mere law for law's sake, and it certainly was intended only for the physical Israel, contrary to reconstructionist theomomists, yet it's not as if God has removed it, as many dispensationalists argue. Leviticus reveals God's character and his dealings with his people in a particular time in salvation-history. The most significant application we can take is what it teaches us about God and the general kinds of human action and interaction that are pleasing to him. Rooker is good at seeing the original purpose of these ancient laws but also excellent at tying them to the New Testament.


when you say tying them to the new testament are you saying in practical application or typology or something else?

He includes both.

excellent. thanks.

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