There are many investigations of the Old Testament priests and the New Testament’s appropriation of such imagery for Jesus Christ. There are also studies of Israel’s corporate priesthood and what this means for the priesthood of God’s new covenant people. However, such studies are less frequently connected with each other: key interrelations are missed, and key questions are not addressed.
In this New Studies in Biblical Theology volume, Andrew S. Malone makes two passes across the tapestry of Scripture, tracing these two distinct threads and their intersection with an eye to the contemporary Christian relevance of both themes in both Testaments.
Malone shows how our Christology and perseverance as God’s people in an unbelieving world are substantially enhanced by the way the book of Hebrews pastorally depicts Christ’s own priesthood. Furthermore, Christians better understand their corporate identity and mission by discerning both the ministry of individual Old Testament priests and Israel’s corporate calling. Combining the various biblical emphases on priesthood in one place provides synergies that are too easily disregarded in atomizing, individualistic Western societies.
Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D.A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.
“At the least, we find that the priest himself is a representative of each party as he speaks on behalf of one to the other. The priest is more an authorized and recognized ambassador than a background courier.” (Page 10)
“The majority of a priest’s task is to facilitate the reduction of the gap between God and humanity, regardless of which party initiates the move.” (Page 46)
“We should not underestimate the significance of the tabernacle or the successive instantiations of the temple that would come to replace it. It serves as the proverbial ‘slice of heaven’—a geospatial representation of God’s presence among his people. To pick up the political imagery glimpsed in my previous chapter, the tabernacle is God’s embassy, wherein his local representatives function and where he describes himself as dwelling among his people.” (Page 14)
“The priest is in every way an intermediary. The priest’s own goal is to bring God and people together and, as far as they remain estranged, he aims to be as translucent as possible as he mirrors the two parties to each other.” (Page 38)
“Conceptually, the tabernacle represents a concentration of God’s presence in creation” (Page 18)
Among the many strengths of Andrew Malone’s impressive work, this book fills out both individual and corporate priesthood themes. . . . It carefully surveys the voluminous biblical material on the Levitical priesthood, but it does not ignore how the Melchizedekian priesthood intersects with the Levitical priesthood in ways that make sense only where there is a sensitive biblical-theological reading of the data.
Andrew S. Malone is lecturer in Biblical Studies and dean of Ridley Online at Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Knowing Jesus in the Old Testament? and numerous essays and journal articles.