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Leviticus as Literature - Mary Douglas

Leviticus as Literature

Hardcover Published: 1st July 1999
ISBN: 9780198150923
Number Of Pages: 304

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This first full-scale account of Leviticus by a world renowned anthropologist presents the biblical work as a literary masterpiece. Seen in an anthropological perspective Leviticus has a mystical structure which plots the book into three parts corresponding to the three parts of the desert tabernacle, both corresponding to the parts of Mount Sinai. This completely new reading transforms the interpretation of the purity laws. The pig and other forbidden animals are not abhorrent, they command the same respect due to all God's creatures. Boldly challenging several traditions of Bible criticism, Mary Douglas claims that Leviticus is not the narrow doctrine of a crabbed professional priesthood but a powerful intellectual statement about a modern religion which emphasizes God's justice and compassion.

`This is a provocative and important book and deserves to be widely read and discussed. At the very least it should make unsympathetic readers of Leviticus think again.' Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 52, no. 2 `With panache she seeks to reverse attitudes and interpretations that have dominated the reading of these texts for thousands of years. Douglas works out the symbolic logic of Leviticus, with impressive insight and thoroughness.' Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 52, no. 2 `In engaging with some of the most alien texts in the Hebrew Bible she shows to advantage her anthropological expertise. This is not only a sympathetic exposition of the priestly worldview, but also a lively 'apologia' to modern readers who inhabit a very different world.' Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 52, no. 2 `Reading Mary Douglas is always an adventure in imagination and originiality.' Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 52, no. 2 `a rich and stimulating work' International Review of Biblical Studies, Vol.46, 1999/2000 `well-produced ... stylishly constructed ... Leviticus as literature presents a particularly explicit theoretical engagement with ethnographic materials that remain part of the religious and/or educational background of many teachers and students of anthropology.' Richard Fardon, School of African and Oriental studies `fascinating study ... Dr Douglas is able to shed light on a number of puzzling points.' Bernard Robinson, Priests and People, Vol.15, No.2, Feb 01. `Douglas offers an effective introduction for both novice and scholar to a book too often slighted or misread.' W. Lee Humpreys, Religious Studies Review, Vol.26, No.4, Oct.2000. `the most breathtaking book of 2000 was Mary Douglas' Leviticus as Literature.' Christopher Howse, The Tablet 23/12/00. `intellectual excitement ... Mary Douglas has given students of Leviticus much to ponder, and we remain as ever in her debt.' Walter J.Houston, Journal of Jewish Studies, 2000. `Like everything that Mary Douglas writes it is easy to read and fertile in ideas.' Walter J Houston, Journal of Jewish Studies, 2000. `Leviticus has fascinated Mary Douglas for many years. And Mary Douglas has fascinated biblical scholars... One of the chief reasons for Mary Douglas's importance within biblical studies is that she is a distinguished social anthropologist... richly suggestive argument... This is a fascinating study, which will certainly lead to much further debate.' The Expository Times. April 2000. `I found it as thought-provoking as all her previous works ... This is a fascinating study, which will certainly lead to much further debate.' The Expository Times, April 2000 `Mary Douglas has stepped in with a rich, dense work entitled Leviticus as Literature... once again... her basic argument has the clarity and simplicity of the obvious once it has been made... What Mary Douglas's reading does is... to see these chapters not as isolated islands of ethical teaching in a barren sea of outdated and meaningless sacrificial and dietary laws, but to see the whole as a beautiful and powerful expression of the order and dignity of the universe... Mary Douglas has done an inestimable service by unpacking the remarkable patterns of Leviticus.' Gabriel Josipovici, TLS 28/07/2000

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
The Ancient Religionp. 1
Two Styles of Thoughtp. 13
Two Styles of Writingp. 41
Mountain, Tabernacle, Body in Leviticus 1-7p. 66
The Totally Reformed Religionp. 87
Oracles Support Divine Justicep. 109
Land Animals, Pure and Impurep. 134
Other Living Beingsp. 152
Atonement for Sick Bodiesp. 176
The Two Screensp. 195
Inside the House/Book of Godp. 218
Inside the Holy of Holiesp. 241
Referencesp. 253
Index of Bible Referencesp. 265
General Indexp. 271
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780198150923
ISBN-10: 019815092X
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 1st July 1999
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.25 x 16.15  x 2.52
Weight (kg): 0.46