Best Resources on Leviticus

Best Resources on Leviticus April 13, 2010

As I have been working through the OT, I have already written lectures for Genesis and Exodus (only 64 books to go!).  Now I have just completed my lecture on Leviticus.

Once again, I am not providing an exhaustive list of resources for you, but a short list of ones I felt were particularly useful, and especially insightful for big-picture stuff.


One can hardly do better than dig into Mary Douglas’ ground-breaking Purity and Danger which outlines her structuralist approach to purity and taboo.

As far as wrapping your brain around the themes and ideas in Leviticus, I have benefited from T. Fretheim’s The Pentateuch – a basic, but profitable guide.

I also learned from N. Kiuchi’s article on Leviticus in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology.


There are some very excellent discussions in monographs which have not yet found their way into general resources as well.

Frank Gorman has an excellent book called Ideology of Ritual: Space, Time and Status in the Priestly Theology.

One may also find helpful Philip Jenson’s Graded Holiness: A Key to the Priestly Conception of the World.

The scholarly essays found in Holiness: Past and Present (ed. S.C. Barton) are first-rate, and not just because it is from a series of seminars at Durham!

For purity/impurity in general, I learned much from Hannah K. Harrington’s The Impurity Systems of Qumran and the Rabbis: Biblical Foundations.  I believe she was a student of Milgrom (see below).


The study of Leviticus must involve interaction with Jacob Milgrom’s now classic Anchor commentaries on Leviticus.  I am particularly persuaded by his theory that those things that were taboo often had to do with contact with death.

For good exegesis, one can hardly do better than Gordon Wenham’s NICOT volume – detailed, highly competent, and pastorally-oriented.

For a brief commentary that is excellent with the meaning and theology of the text, Samuel Balentine’s Interpretation commentary is top-notch.

On the broad horizon, I look forward to a commentary on Leviticus by Gary Anderson (Hermeneia) as it has been slated for the future.

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