Reading Ritual (Journal For The Study Of The Old Testament Supplement Series)
The first chapters of Leviticus are often thought of as a dull catalogue of rules with little relevance to the modern world, and readers are often turned off by instructions for the killing of animals and the sprinkling of blood....
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The first chapters of Leviticus are often thought of as a dull catalogue of rules with little relevance to the modern world, and readers are often turned off by instructions for the killing of animals and the sprinkling of blood. Wesley Bergen turns that idea on its head, arguing that the sacrificial rituals in Leviticus have much in common with our world. Using ritual theory and popular culture studies to read Leviticus, he argues for a fresh understanding of the role of these texts.
This book draws on a variety of disciplines to undertake a unique analysis of Leviticus 1-7. Rather than studying the rituals prescribed in Leviticus as arcane historical/theological texts of little interest to the modern reader, or as examples of primitive rituals that have no parallel in Western society, this book provides many points of contact between animal sacrifice rituals and various parts of post-modern society. Modern rituals such as Monday Night Football, eating fast food, sending sons and daughters off to war, and even the rituals of modern academia are contrasted with the text of Leviticus. In addition, responses to Leviticus among modern African Christians and in the early church are used to draw out further understandings of how the language and practice of sacrifice still shapes the lives of people.This study takes a consciously Christian perspective on Leviticus. Leviticus is assumed to be an ongoing part of the Christian Bible. The usual Christian response to Leviticus is to ignore it or to claim that all sacrifice has now been superseded by the sacrifice of Jesus. This study refutes those simplistic assertions, and attempts to reassert the place of Leviticus as a source for Christian self-understanding.This is volume 417 of JSOTS and volume 9 of Playing the Texts.
Wesley J. Bergen is visiting Professor at Wichita State University.
- 1. Introduction; A Basic Overview Of Ritual Theory, Using Catherine Bell, Ronald Grimes And Tom Driver As Major Figures. This Chapter Also Deals With The Question Of How To Use Anthropological Theory To Study A Text. 2. Leviticus Meets Mcdonalds; A Study Of The Modern Approach To Meat Processing And Consumption As It Compares And Contrasts With Leviticus 1-7.; 3. Leviticus And The Church Of Monday Night Football; A Comparison Of An Ancient Ritual (leviticus 4) And A Modern One.; 4. Leviticus In Africa And North America; A Study Of All Modern African Christian Responses To Leviticus Or To Sacrifice In General. Africa Is One Place Where Christians Still Participate In Animal Sacrifice. Their Response To Leviticus Allows North American Readers An Opportunity To See What We Don't See When We Read (or Don't Read) Leviticus.; 5. Sacrificing Our Sons And Daughters; This Is A Comparison Between Sacrifice Described In Leviticus And Sacrifice As Practised In The American Military.; 6. The Afterlife Of Leviticus 1-7; This Chapter Focuses On Various Responses To Leviticus. It Begins With A Prophetic Critique Of Ritual, Then Moving On To New Testament Texts And The Writings Of The Early Church. It Then Discusses The Current Debate In Atonement Theory, And How This Affects Our Understanding Of Sacrifice.; 7. A Postmodern Commentary On Leviticus 7; Meant As Both A Commentary And A Summary Of The Book, This Chapter Takes The Various Themes Of The Book And Weaves Them Together To Create A Commentary On A Specific Piece Of Leviticus.