This is from my review of the hardcover version. There is no significant difference between the paperback and the hardcover.
With this the third of three volumes, Jacob Milgrom completes his monumental commentary on Leviticus. No modern commentary matches Milgrom's in depth, breadth or keen insight. This volume, 3B, covers Leviticus 23-27. Milgrom argues that chapters 17-27 are composed chiefly from what is commonly referred to as the "H" ("Holiness") source, in contrast to chapters 1-16, which according to Milgrom are composed chiefly from the "P" ("Priestly") source. In my review of volume 3A, which covers Lev. 17-22, I briefly outlined the theology that Milgrom believes animates H and therefore I won't repeat it here. Instead this review focuses on the sort of commentator readers will discover Milgrom to be as they work their way through these three dense, difficult but always rewarding volumes.
One of Milgrom's most notable qualities is his thoroughness. On almost any given question, Milgrom sets out the competing answers offered by other scholars. Milgrom frequently credits others with insights he adopts and appears especially happy to credit his students with important insights. Milgrom esteems his students so highly that he compliments them by in his commentary arguing with their theories. Milgrom's generosity isn't simply a mark of good manners. Rather it is a boon to readers who cannot do the research themselves but appreciate a commentator who will give them the lay of the land. Thus, while some readers may not agree with an interpretation Milgrom offers, they may very well find more satisfactory one of the other interpretations reviewed by Milgrom.
Not only does Milgrom consistently cite the work of other modern scholars, he is also committed to demonstrating the relevance of ancient and medieval Jewish interpreters. Recognizing that classical Jewish interpreters differ from modern scholars with respect to certain assumptions (e.g., Mosaic authorship), he nevertheless demonstrates that the classical interpreters offer valuable insights and should not be overlooked. For example (p. 2378), Milgrom describes an interpretation by modern scholar Ephraim Speiser as "brilliant" but then goes on to note that Speiser's insight had been anticipated by Ralbag more than 600 years earlier.
Just as Milgrom seeks to demonstrate the relevance of classical commentators, so too he is committed to defending the integrity of P and H. Many modern biblical scholars have denigrated P as sterile and authoritarian. Others that distinguish P from H champion H over P. Milgrom argues that both P and H are humanely responding to the different worlds in which they live, all the while championing their shared, radical monotheism, whether it is by P's proffering of the chattat/purification offering as a balm to the guilt-ridden but repentant sinner, pre-exilic H's attempt to cure rising economic inequality, or exilic H's emphasis on the Sabbath after the destruction of the Temple. In the course of his commentary, Milgrom reveals himself to be humane and caring, qualities which he finds in P and H. Thus in response to an argument over Israel's slavery laws (p. 2192), Milgrom states: "That the biblical codes could contemplate and approve any situation whereby a father would sell off his children, even for a six-year period, before selling any part of his land, is beyond my comprehension." No doubt other modern scholars have no difficulty attributing such a doctrine or worse to ancient Israel and the readers must decide for themselves.
Make no mistake, Milgrom's commentary is challenging and difficult. Nevertheless, his work is worth every minute one devotes to it and those who do will reap rich rewards.