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Many modern readers feel ill at ease with the book of Leviticus. They think it is too difficult for the average person. It seems to be out of date and lacking in any real spiritual significance. The various rituals and regulations found in this book seem to have little to do with our modern situation. But this fear is unfounded. We often fear the unknown, and Leviticus is feared at least in part because it is not known. Yet as we grow more familiar with this book, we begin to feel more comfortable with it. Leviticus is like some people whom we may not like when we first meet them, but we find that the better we get to know them, the more we like them. Underneath the hard, external appearance we find a warm and lovable person.
Although the average lay person and even some pastors may keep their distance from the book of Leviticus, a Bible translator cannot avoid it unless he is to produce an incomplete Bible. Leviticus is not only unavoidable, it is essential to a proper understanding of other parts of Scripture. For example, the Letter to the Hebrews is very difficult to understand without the background of Leviticus. And we should not forget that when Christ summarized the Law in Matthew 22, he quoted Leviticus as containing the second most important commandment (Lev 19.18). This book also provides a foundation for the understanding of forgiveness (4.20,26,31,35, and others) and holiness (19.2,20,26, and others).
It is true, however, that there are many passages in this book that require a great deal of study, perseverance, reflection, and prayer before they can be properly understood and translated. Since some people involved in translating the Bible around the world have had little opportunity for advanced theological training, this volume is designed to help them with the difficult but important task of translating Leviticus. By using this Handbook it is hoped that they will be able to translate in such a way that the average reader or hearer will easily understand the meaning of this book. The book of Leviticus comes from a strange and ancient culture that is very different from those into which the Scriptures are being translated around the world today. Yet it has a message for people living today.
Published 1990 Pages 467