The Jewish matrix and some New Testament books other than Hebrews are indispensable sources for those who explore the priesthood of Christ. As regards the Jewish matrix that must enter any adequate appreciation of Christ’s priesthood, we should first recall such passages from Paul as 1 Corinthians 5: 7 (‘Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed’), 1 Corinthians 10: 18 (about the sacrifices that were still going on in the Jerusalem Temple), and Romans 3: 25 (the sacrificial ceremony on the Day of Expiation). Some knowledge of Jewish sources is indispensable for grasping what Paul intends to say. Add too the priestly and sacrificial vision of the whole Church founded by Christ that 1 Peter proposes and that cannot be adequately grasped without reference to relevant passages in Exodus and Isaiah.

The heavenly liturgy in the Book of Revelation which centres on the Lamb is patterned on ceremonies celebrated in the Jerusalem Temple. A reading of Revelation that ignores these ceremonies and Old Testament sources for the vivid language which this apocalyptic book employs will go seriously astray in grasping its message about Christ, Victim and Priest. The Letter to the Hebrews highlights the impact of Christ’s priestly activity in rendering ‘obsolete’ the ‘old covenant’, with its priesthood and practices (Heb. 8: 13). Nevertheless, to illuminate Christ’s priesthood Hebrews itself draws liberally on Jewish priestly and Temple imagery, as well as picking up very positively the figure of Melchizedek. It also endorses some Old Testament principles about priesthood: for instance, that being ‘taken from among human beings’ is an indispensable qualification for being appointed a priest by God (Heb. 5: 1), and that priesthood and sacrifice are essentially connected (Heb. 8: 3).