Question of the week: Why Leviticus?
Related question of the week: Did you ever read Leviticus…all…the…way…through? Sure you did.
- Why all the sacrifices? Leviticus opens up with a lot of details about sacrificial offerings. A lot. But to really appreciate all those details, we have to understand that back in the day (and we’re talking 1,000 BCE or so), most people thought that gods in general would smite you if an offering was not done exactly right. We see that type of relationship in the early part of the Old Testament. Even though the Israelites were developing a new type of relationship to their God (Yahweh), they still incorporated sacrifices from the old world in their worship service.
- But why all the repetition? Because in these early times of Jewish history, people did not write things down. As we have discussed in previous 3BT editions, the first written versions of the Old Testament were not initiated until sometime around 500 BCE. Repetition makes it easier to recite stories in an oral tradition.
- Who reads it? Leviticus, as tedious as it is (and the Chief Editor is not planning on reading it in detail anytime soon), is a book that begins to bridge the gap between the old idea of a distant god and the Jewish concept of God as loving and connected. Even Paul in the New Testament referred to Leviticus as his tutor. From what we know about Paul, he probably did read it all…the…way…through.
Next week: What do some astronomers think about the Star of Bethlehem?