Week 15: Leviticus

Israel’s own tradition saw the rules of Leviticus as one part of the whole.

Recall again the hermeneutical principle we considered last week that it is not possible to make sense of Leviticus without also listening to the Wisdom literature and to the prophetic writings. We should remember this important principle as we interpret any Scripture but especially these ancient texts in Leviticus. We must hear alternative voices and see the counter vision that developed within Israel’s own tradition, glimpses of a future time when all people would be welcomed and included in the reconciling, redeeming work of God . . .

Israel’s own tradition saw the rules of Leviticus as one part of the whole. Israel’s own tradition saw the visions of the prophets as an equally valid voice, rereading and reframing Israel’s social and ceremonial laws . . .

Whenever we try to make sense of texts like these, we must insist on faithful, sensible, and mature interpretive methods in order to unpack the historical situation and understand the cultural practices that shaped the writings of the original community . . .

When we read Leviticus, we should be very careful about bringing any of those cultural assumptions from another world and a different time forward into our own day. Faulty and unfaithful interpretations of the Bible and misapplications of some of these very obscure verses in Leviticus have been used again and again in the church to exclude and condemn people whom God is calling into relationship . . .

“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (through his flesh. . .)

Heb 10:19–22

In this theological reflection by the Hebrews author, in this image of Christ opening the curtain to the Holy of Holies, the work of the Christ has sanctified everything. Whatever was considered to be imperfect, unholy, inadequate, impure, unacceptable, all has been made perfect and holy and acceptable by the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ . . .

There are still too many Christians, too many denominations, too many local congregations that have not yet figured out how to be this kind of inclusive community. All around us, all kinds of people who have been shunned and excluded and made to feel unholy and unacceptable are yearning for a place of welcome, where the curtain truly is opened wide. So here and now, in our time, in our place, let us live boldly, let us go forward with confidence in this new and living way the Christ has opened up for all of us.

Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle. Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (p. 203). Resource Publications. Kindle Edition.


Living in The Story readings Week 15

Leviticus 17-27

Psalm 40

Psalm 99

Psalm 123

Hebrews 6-10

Luke 2

Author: Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

Charlotte lives and blogs in Paris TX. She is ordained within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and developed Living in The Story while doing doctoral work at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth. Charlotte also blogs about intersections of faith, politics, and culture at CharlotteVaughanCoyle.com.

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