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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

After briefly discussing the final literary structure of Leviticus, this chapter considers three parts of the book in light of particular themes: blood ritual and mythic drama in chapters 1–7 and 11–15; life, death, and ambiguity in chapters 8–10 and 16; and holiness and God’s people in chapters 17–27. By embedding ritual instructions within a mythical-narrative frame, the authors/editors of Leviticus created a sacred timeless and authoritative world that resists challenge from dissent and doubt. However, narratives interspersed within the ritual texts expose ambiguities within the system and raise questions about the ability of the law to accomplish its purposes. In the second half of Leviticus, the world of “holiness” is expanded and reframed in order to apply to the whole community, a recognition that priestly ritual is a cosmic reality that is broader and more transformative than what happens only in the tabernacle.

Keywords: Leviticus, ritual, holiness, purity, mythic past, ambiguity, ritualization, blasphemy, failure, sacred space

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