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Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus (by L. Michael Morales)
Volume 37, New Studies in Biblical Theology
Published: November 2015
ISBN-10: 0-8308-2638-6

Abstract

“Who shall ascend the mountain of the LORD?” —Psalm 24:3

In many ways, this is the fundamental question of Old Testament Israel’s cult—and, indeed, of life itself. How can creatures made from dust become members of God’s household “forever”? The question of ascending God’s mountain to his house was likely recited by pilgrims on approaching the temple on Mount Zion during the annual festivals. This entrance liturgy runs as an undercurrent throughout the Pentateuch and is at the heart of its central book, Leviticus. Its dominating concern, as well as that of the rest of the Bible, is the way in which humanity may come to dwell with God. Israel’s deepest hope was not merely a liturgical question, but a historical quest.

Under the Mosaic covenant, the way opened up by God was through the Levitical cult of the tabernacle and later temple, its priesthood and rituals. The advent of Christ would open up a new and living way into the house of God—indeed, that was the goal of his taking our humanity upon himself, his suffering, his resurrection and ascension.

In this stimulating volume in the New Studies in Biblical Theology, Michael Morales explores the narrative context, literary structure and theology of Leviticus. He follows its dramatic movement, examines the tabernacle cult and the Day of Atonement, and tracks the development from Sinai’s tabernacle to Zion’s temple—and from the earthly to the heavenly Mount Zion in the New Testament. He shows how life with God in the house of God was the original goal of the creation of the cosmos, and became the goal of redemption and the new creation.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The glory of God’s house: the lampstand and the table of the Presence
1. Leviticus within the Pentateuch: A theological structure
Introduction
The structure of the Pentateuch
Conclusion

2. Longing for Eden: Genesis, the narrative context of Leviticus
Created to dwell in God’s house: the Pentateuch’s prologue
Deepening exile from the presence of God: the Pentateuch’s plot
Excursus: cultic theology in the primeval history

3. Returning to Eden: Exodus, the narrative context of Leviticus
Redeemed through the waters: Exod. 1:1 – 15:21
Brought to the mountain of God: Exod. 15:22 – 24:18
Tabernacle, life with God: Exod. 25 – 40
Conclusion

4. Approaching the house of God: The dramatic movement of Leviticus 1 to 10
Introduction
The narrative drama from Leviticus 1 to 10
Understanding the sacrificial cultus (Lev. 1 – 8)

5. Cleansing the house of God: The dramatic movement of Leviticus 11 to 16
Introduction
The narrative drama from Leviticus 11 to 16
Understanding the laws on clean and unclean (Lev. 11 – 15)
Leviticus 16: the Day of Atonement
Excursus: Adam’s fall

6. Meeting with God at the house of God: The dramatic movement of Leviticus 17 to 27
Introduction
The symbolism of the lampstand and bread of the Presence
The dramatic movement of Leviticus 17 to 25
Understanding Israel’s call to holiness (Lev. 17 – 22)

7. Establishing the earthly house of God: From Sinai’s tabernacle to Zion’s temple
Introduction
Zion, mountain of God as Israel’s inheritance
Exile and restoration
Conclusion

8. Entering the heavenly house of God: From the earthly to the heavenly Mount Zion
Introduction
The ascent of Christ’s humanity
The descent of Christ’s Spirit
Conclusion