The Book of Leviticus is at once the most legalistic of Old Testament books and the book which most clearly presents the grace of God in providing for man’s redemption. Minute prescriptions are given for the correct observance of rites and ceremonies, fast days and feast days. The most intimate details of life are regulated. Yet the very system of sacrifices which looms so large in Leviticus was designed to provide an atonement for the sinner. The shedding of blood at the brazen altar spoke of a God who desired to bring his errant people back to fellowship with himself.
Authorship Of Leviticus
Leviticus, along with the other books of the Pentateuch, has been traditionally ascribed to Moses. It shared in the dismemberment of the Pentateuch as proposed by the school of Wellhausen. Legal and priestly portions were assigned to the priestly writer (P). Most of Leviticus fell under this classification.
Archaeological discoveries of the present century tend to discount the neat schemes of source analysis which were popular a generation or two ago. The thought that the Levitical institutions were a projection into antiquity of the practices of the second Temple (from 500 B.C. onward) cannot be seriously entertained today. Clay tablets dating back to the fourteenth century before Christ, discovered at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) since 1929, contain references to cultic practices which, in some cases, provide an exact parallel to Leviticus. In alphabetic script dating from the time of Moses we read of the burnt offering, the whole burnt offering, the peace offering, and the trespass (or guilt) offering.
That sacrifices were offered before Moses codified Israel’s law is taught throughout the Book of Genesis. Abel, Noah, Abraham ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more