My review of Peter Leithart’s commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles in the Brazos Commentary Series.
Goals of the Book:
It’s no secret to anybody that I am a huge fan of Peter Leithart. His book, Deep Exegesis, is easily one of the most formational books I’ve ever read in my life. Any of his books will help you understand the Christocentric nature of the Bible from Leviticus to Revelation. Any of his commentaries on a single book is more aptly described as a biblical theology of the Bible disguised as a commentary on a single book.
Okay, is that effusive enough? Should I pull back a bit before going too far? Yeah, probably. But I do want to emphasize how important Dr. Leithart’s theology and books have been in my faith. I was very excited to see that Dr. Leithart was following his commentaries on 1 & 2 Kings and Revelation with a commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (and soon, Leviticus!). The goal of this book is to shed light on the text of Chronicles, how it impacts Christian theology, and what it tells us of Christ using a wide-angled biblical theology.
What does this book offer the Church?:
Well, here’s one way to answer this question: when is the last time that you studied Chronicles in depth? More than that, when was the last time you even read Chronicles? Be honest with yourself. There’s a lot of Bible, so it’s understandable that some of your time has been spent elsewhere. This isn’t a place to judge that. Don’t you wish that you had a chance to read more about Chronicles and understand it even better? This is the book for you, then!
Here’s, simply, what this book offers the church: a way to understand an unpopular, widely seen as boring, and long book. Most pastors might struggle to preach on the genealogies that dominate the first nine chapters of the book. Many laypeople might skip right over those and start in chapter 10 – or decide that they’d rather just skip the book entirely. Dr. Leithart uses this book as part of an effort to give us our Bible back. When we understand the whole Bible, we understand better the faith, kingdom, and family we’ve been brought into.
James B. Jordan said that the Holy Spirit never wastes his breath. Dr. Leithart writes with this in mind when he seeks to bring the entire text of Chronicles to life for a Christian church because it has immense value for today’s Christian. This book has a huge focus on worship because, according to Dr. Leithart, 1 & 2 Chronicles are an instrumental piece of understanding Christian worship. (Pun intended, obviously.) You can’t understand the Church’s worship without understanding the history of her worship as described and commanded by God. In this light, I think worship leaders would find a lot to learn from in this book even if it doesn’t focus on the same subjects most contemporary worship books do.
How successfully does this book meet its goals?:
You probably already know that I’m going to say that this book succeeds admirably. One thing that I appreciate about Leithart’s work is how close he has us stick to the text while reading his books. Very rarely do you leave the Bible for long when reading one of his books.