Ancient, weird, violent, brilliant, surprising, mysterious. These adjectives describe Leviticus in Bell’s recent commentary, Blood, Guts, and Fire: The Gospel According to Leviticus, which is only available in audio format. Bell has released two parts in the series, and divides the content into Chapters 1-7 and Chapters 8-10. I found joy and grace when I explored Leviticus under Bell’s tutelage.
His approach is one that looks at scripture from 30,000 feet, in a larger context. He sees truth in Leviticus as being like nesting Russian Dolls. That means one can see the truth about God as multi-faceted and detailed. Bell proposes that one must understand culture to understand this third book in the Bible that is often mocked and carved up by people who want to prove the Bible to be irrelevant. For Bell, Leviticus is relevant, and, in fact, shows that the gospel was subversive from the beginning. Leviticus shows God’s big-hearted reach to all people. On the heels of the Exodus, Leviticus comes to a people whose culture was transformed after 400 years of enslavement. People in Mosaic time would not understand the stories we tell now about traffic and how that phenomenon overlays daily quality of life. Cars? Highways? Accidents? Engine trouble? Similarly, understanding these older stories will require us to consider the context.
Bell - Leviticus - Spirit - Reason - List
Bell suggests reading Leviticus for spirit, not form. Yet, there was a reason for the comprehensive list of directions. The idea that God conveyed in Leviticus was this: The world may be a mess, but here, with this, we are not a mess. God instructs about many details, and details elevate the every day. Rituals unite. Sing together. Breathe together.
Levitical rituals are not about leaving the world, but about coming together in the world to encounter the Divine. What an idea for people who had...
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