Authors:    A-E     F-J     K-O     P-T     U-Z


Brenner, Athalya/Lee, Archie Chi Chung (ed.), Leviticus and Numbers (Texts@Contexts), Minneapolis 2013.

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Published abstract: Leviticus and Numbers focus attention on practices and ideals of behavior in community, from mourning and diet to marriages licit and transgressive. The contributions to this collection of essays examine all of these from a variety of global perspectives and postcolonial and feminist methods. The authors ask, “How do we deal with the apparent cultural distances between ourselves and these ancient writings; what can we learn from their visions of human dwelling on the earth?” The essays come with an identification of the contributors, a preface by A. Brenner introducing the articles, a common bibliography (pp. 227-251), an author index, and a scripture index.

Brett, Mark G., Natives and Immigrants in the Social Imagination of the Holiness School, in: Ben Zvi, Ehud; Edelman, Diana Vikander (Hg.), Imagining the Other and Constructing Israelite Identity in the Early Second Temple Period (Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 456), London 2013, 89–104.

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Abstract from OTA 38, 2015, 671, #2216: B. surmises that the policy on the “native” in the Holiness Code (H), which introduces a new vocabulary on the topic, must stem from a need to articulate a new understanding of the relationship between land and identity that was not present in earlier, Deuteronomistic theology, in view of a new set of problems about the legitimacy of land possession. The phrase “people of the land” must already have taken on negative connotations that prevented it from expressing a sense of equity between native and immigrant. The H editors of the Persian period were imagining new ways to express religious and economic integration via permeable boundaries that would allow a reconciliation of the peoples of the land who never went into exile with the “children of the gôlâ,” while at the same time opening possibilities for including the surrounding gôyîm as both land-owners and participants in the Jewish cult. [Adapted from published abstract—C.T.B.]

Büchner, Dirk, A Cultic Term (ἁμαρτία) in the Septuagint: Its Meaning and Use from the Third Century b.c.e. until the New Testament: BIOSCS 42, 2009, 1–17.

Büchner, Dirk, Writing a Commentary on the Septuagint, in: Peters, Melvin K.H. (Hg.), XIV Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Helsinki, 2010 (SCS 59), Atlanta 2013, 525–537.

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Published abstract: This paper highlights some issues encountered in commenting on Leuitikon 5–7. In these chapters in NETS some tricky moves were made to accommodate the translator’s response to Hebrew idiom. I intend to present a procedure for how one deals with syntactical and lexical difficulties in the body of a commentary such as the SBLCS. Tribute will be paid to Karl Huber’s Untersuchungen über den Sprachkarakter des griechischen Leviticus, published in 1916. In addition, these chapters begin giving attention to the matter of impurity, and some remarks will be made about this topic, with reference to Theodor Wächter’s Reinheitsvorschriften im griechischen Kult, published in 1910.

Büchner, Dirk, Brief Remarks on the Occurrence and Value of Blood in Greek Sources from Epic to Early Christianity, in: Kraus, Wolfgang; Kreuzer, Siegfried; Meiser, Martin; Sigismund, Marcus (Hg.), Die Septuaginta – Text, Wirkung, Rezeption. 4. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 19.-22. Juli 2012 (WUNT 325), Tübingen 2014, 255–271.

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B. presents brief observations about the scant significance that blood appears to have in Greek ritual and poses the question whether blood can be viewed as playing a purificatory role in Greek ritual. B. discusses several occurrences in Greek ritual descriptions and concludes that Greeks did not regard blood as a significant substance in θυσία, and that it was not considered a widespread cathartic medium outside of murder pollution. After that he presents the rather contrastive prominence given to blood in the Septuagint, Jewish-Hellenistic writings, the New Testament and Early Christianity.

Chavel, Simeon, Oracular Law and Priestly Historiography in the Torah (FAT II, 71), Tübingen 2014.

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Abstract from OTA 38, 2015, 800, #2621: This volume began as C.’s dissertation at Hebrew University under Israel Knohl. In it, C. argues that four texts from the Priestly strand of the Torah—Lev 24:10-23, Num 9:1‑14, 15:32-36; and 27:1-11—are best considered together as exemplars of the same genre, which he terms “oracular novella.” The four texts each have the same incidental character, essential plot, and structure; employ a specialized diction; portray in an unusually specific manner Moses’ precise role in the legislative and judicial process; straddle the fence between law and narrative; demonstrate a distinct method for generating law and establishing it thereafter; and give distinctive expression to certain elements that stand at the base of communal identity” (p. 1). Even so, the four texts are to be differentiated into two subtypes—an “action” type (Lev 24:10-23; Num 15:32-36) and a “situation” type (Num 9:1-14; 27:1-11). In addition to genre considerations, C. draws on sociological insights on how texts can be used by a community “to refresh itself” (p. 15). After his introduction, C. offers lengthy chapters on each of the four texts. In each case, the text is examined with regard to “(1) its internal coherence and poetics … compositional history … and tradition history; (2) its specific location within the Priestly history; and (3) its relationship with other texts in the Priestly history and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible and lore outside them” (p. 257). A summary and conclusion round out the study. A combined bibliography and list of abbreviations and indexes of sources and subjects are also included.—B.A.S.

Cranz, Isabel, Priests, Pollution and the Demonic: Evaluating Impurity in the Hebrew Bible in Light of Assyro-Babylonian Texts: JANER (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions) 14, 2014, 68–86.

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 Published abstract: The Priestly Source makes no explicit reference to the demonic when describing pollution which supposedly sets it apart from non-biblical conceptualizations of impurity. Most scholars explain the Priestly disregard for demons by referring to the advance of monotheism and the subsequent eradication of supernatural forces other than God. Depending on whether monotheism is viewed as gradual process or as the foundation of Israelite religion, commentators either detect a weakened demonic quality in Priestly pollution or claim that the Priestly Source has always been of a non-demonic nature. However, in recent years the idea that monotheism pervades most books of the Hebrew Bible has been increasingly called into question. At the same time, the extensive publication of Assyro-Babylonian ritual texts allows for better understanding of Assyro-Babylonian conceptualizations of impurity. These developments necessitate the reevaluation of the current views on Priestly pollution by examining Assyro-Babylonian texts pertaining to impurity and the demonic. Special attention is given to context and dating of the cuneiform sources used to exemplify the non-demonic nature of Priestly impurity. This renewed comparison of Priestly and Assyro-Babylonian impurity highlights how the Priestly writer frames the concepts of pollution within the context of the sanctuary and its maintenance. The Assyro-Babylonian texts dealing with impurity and demons, by contrast, focus on the individual and his/her relationship to the personal god rather than temple maintenance. Likewise, cuneiform texts that deal with pollution and temple maintenance do not concern themselves with demonic affliction. Consequently, it can be argued that the non-demonic nature of impurity in the Priestly Source is the result of the Priestly focus on the sanctuary and does not give witness to an underlying theological ideal.

Crouch, Carly L., What Makes a Thing Abominable? Observations on the Language of Boundaries and Identity Formation from a Social Scientific Perspective: VT 65, 2015, 516–541.

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Published abstract: Previous attempts to synthesise biblical texts’ usage of twʿbh have associated the language with cultic concerns in Deuteronomy and Ezekiel or with ethical concerns in Proverbs. The reconciliation of these interests, especially in conjunction with a number of additional outlier texts, has proved problematic. This investigation suggests that the texts which use twʿbh and tʿb exhibit a persistent focus on issues of identity, on the transgression of boundaries and on perceptions of the compatibility and incompatibility of fundamental social, theological and ideological categories. This understanding goes some way towards providing an explanation of the diverse appearances of these terms across the biblical texts.

Dennis, J., The Function of the חטאת Sacrifice in the Priestly Literature. An Evaluation of the View of Jacob Milgrom: EThL 78, 2002, 108–123.

Eberhart, Christian A., Blut des Bundes. Das Opferverständnis im Buch Levitikus und in der Eucharistie: BiKi 69, 2014, 69–73.

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Abstract: The Eucharist is the fundamental form of worship for all Christian denominations and confessions. The article examines the roots of Christ’s word about the cup and his blood. These roots lie at the heart of the prescriptions of the Book of Leviticus about sacrifices and atonement. The sacrifices in Leviticus invite to a joyful communication with the deity; the blood rituals clean humans and items used for the cult (the altars, the sanctuary) and thus achieve atonement. These traditional Jewish ideas form the basis for Christian soteriological concepts in the New Testament, especially for the Eucharist. To drink the wine as “blood of the covenant” is a process of consecration transmitting God’s peace and grace to human beings.

Eberhart, Christian A., Beobachtungen zu Opfer, Kult und Sühne in der Septuaginta, in: Kraus, Wolfgang; Kreuzer, Siegfried; Meiser, Martin; Sigismund, Marcus (Hg.), Die Septuaginta – Text, Wirkung, Rezeption. 4. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 19.-22. Juli 2012 (WUNT 325), Tübingen 2014, 297–314.

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Abstract: E. examines a selection of texts that are essential and revealing for the topics of sacrifice, cult, and atonement in the Septuagint. He first focuses on the narrative of the Sinai covenant in Exod 24:1-11. Here, the LXX follows the Hebrew text faithfully, with one exception: The LXX avoids the notion that the elders of the Israelites “saw” God directly and rather reads “and they appeared in the place of God.” This has to do with the general tendency of the LXX to avoid anthropomorphisms. Another example would be the fact that the LXX in the Torah translates lḥm (“bread”) when it is used for sacrifices never verbatim, but rather as τὰ δῶρα, “the offerings.” E. also discusses the longer text of the LXX in Lev 17:4a: This plus stresses the necessity to bring the animals as offerings to the sanctuary. Finally, E. demonstrates that the LXX equivalents for Hebrew kipper (ἐξιλάσκομαι and ἱλάσκομαι) confirm the wide semantic spectrum of this concept that ranges between purification and consecration. Hence, the LXX in major areas appears as a faithful interpretation of the cultic concepts of the Hebrew text.

Ellens, Deborah L., Fundamental Structure as Methodological Control for Evaluating Introverted Literary Structures in Leviticus, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 265–297.


Feder, Yitzhaq, The Semantics of Purity in the Ancient Near East. Lexical Meaning as a Projection of Embodied Experience: JANER (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions) 14, 2014, 87–113.

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Published abstract: This article analyzes the primary terms for purity in Biblical Hebrew, Ugaritic, Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite. Building from insights from cognitive linguistics and embodiment theory, this study develops the premise that semantic structure—even of seemingly abstract concepts—is grounded in real-world bodily experience. An examination of purity terms reveals that all of them can be related to a concrete sense pertaining to radiance (brilliance, brightness, shininess). The article then traces the semantic development of purity terms in distinct experiential context and shows how semantic analysis can elucidate the inner logic of fundamental religious concepts.

Feder, Yitzhaq, The Wilderness Camp Paradigm in the Holiness Source and the Tempel Scroll. From Purity Laws to Cult Politics: Journal of Ancient Judaism 5, 2014, 290–310.

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Abstract from OTA 38, 2015, 670, #2215: F.’s  paper explores the socio-historical implications of the levitical purity laws as these are understood in the Holiness Code (H) and the Temple Scroll (TS). Though the rhetoric of these sources is similar, closer examination reveals fundamental differences between them. In particular, F. focuses on the manner in which these sources understand the wilderness camp model, which serves as the primary framework for their respective applications of the biblical purity laws. In H, we find a repeated emphasis on the danger of polluting the Tabernacle (see, e.g., Lev 15:31; Num 5:4, 19:13, 20). From a strictly philological analysis of these H verses, it becomes clear that they have as their focus the purity of the centralized sanctuary. Interestingly, this stance finds echoes in the rabbinic view, which restricted the application of the purity laws almost exclusively to Jerusalem. In contrast, the interpretation of these same verses in TS construes them as requiring purity on other cities throughout the land as well. The comparison of the above source and the relationship between purity and the cultic establishment implied by them can serve as a basis for contextualizing H and TS historically. Such analysis can also enable us to trace the development of attitudes towards purity in Israel in the periods before and after cult centralization. [Adapted from published abstract—C.T.B.]

Ferch, John G., The Story of Torah: The Role of Narrative in Leviticus’ Legal Discourse: Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 2, 2013, 41–60.

Gane, Roy E., Didactic Logic and the Authorship of Leviticus, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 197–221.

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Abstract from OTA: G.’s starting point in this discussion of the Book of Leviticus is the question formulated by James Watts concerning Leviticus 1-16: who is trying to persuade whom of what by writing these texts? (Watts’s answer is that Leviticus 1-16 is the work of priests— whether preexilic, exilic, or postexilic—whose purpose was to persuade the Israelite community to accept the cultic monopoly of the Aaronide priesthood). In engaging with Watts’s claim, G. focuses on the book’s (his study extends to the whole of Leviticus 1-27) various didactic strategies (e.g., organizing items of information in recognizable progressions; providing perspective through logical hierarchy; reinforcing by repetition, simplifying by abbreviating) as well as its backgrounding or foregrounding concepts and practices and what this suggests about what its hearers/readers are presumed to know already (e.g, the basic notion of physical impurity) or, conversely, to require more detailed instruction about (e.g., the holy Yhwh’s ethical requirements for his holy people). On the basis of his findings regarding the above matters, G. concludes, contra Watts, that the book’s prevailing concern is to promote a communal ideal of ritual and ethical holiness to which all Israelites—both priests and lay—are subject. Moreover, the book’s invocation of the authority of the non-priest Moses (behind whom stands Yhwh himself) could suggest that its authors were not priests themselves (so Watts), but (possibly) prophetic figures.—C.T.B.

Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015.

Gilders, William K., חטאת as “Sin Offering”. A Reconsideration, in: Hodge, Caroline E. Johnson; Olyan, Saul M.; Ullucci, Daniel; Wasserman, Emma (Hg.), “The One Who Sows Bountifully”. Essays in Honor of Stanley K. Stowers (Brown Judaic Studies 356), Providence 2013, 119–128.

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Gilders befasst sich mit dem Entsündigungsopfer und der Schwierigkeit, den hebräischen Opferbegriff חטאת, ḥaṭṭāʾt, angemessen zu übersetzen. Er schlussfolgert: „Thus, for the Priestly tradents, the חטאת, a specific ritual complex with clearly defined technical elements, was a ‚purification offering‘ that dealt with ‚sin,‘ as well as a ‚sin offering‘ that dealt with impurity. We may assume that this reality made sense to the Priestly tradents.“

Goldstein, Elizabeth W., Women and the Purification Offering. What Jacob Milgrom Contributed to the Intersection of Women’s Studies and Biblical Studies, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 47–65.

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Abstract from OTA: Truly, the glass is either half full or half empty with regard to P and women. G.’s essay shows that Jacob Milgrom espoused the former view. He demonstrated the parturient’s utter lack of sin, re-read Lev 15:32 in favor of gender parity, and asserted that both men and women washed in their purification process. On the parturient (Lev 12:7-8), Milgrom pointed out: “This distinction makes it crystal clear that the parturient and all others who suffer physical impurity have committed no moral wrong that requires divine forgiveness.” This insight, among many others relevant to women’s studies, is one of Milgrom’s lasting legacies. G. herself finds that the Priestly writer of Leviticus 15 portrays male and female bodily impurities in basically parallel fashion, even though the differences between them are significant. Why does the writer do this? Perhaps the answer lies in the difference between those who led, operated, and performed the rituals and the one who wrote down their instructions. Officiating priests were always men, although not all men served as officiating priests. Despite the references to female functionaries at the sanctuary or temple, equal roles for women of priestly descent did not exist as they did for men. Nevertheless, it appears that the one who transcribed the rituals, the Priestly writer, intended to indicate the parallel and equally inferior status of potentially impure male and female bodies in relationship to the deity. [Adapted from author’s conclusion—C.T.B.]

Goldstein, Elizabeth W., Impurity and Gender in the Hebrew Bible, Lanham, Boulder, New York, London: Lexington Books, 2015.

Holmstedt, Robert D., The Nexus between Textual Criticism and Linguistics: A Case Study from Leviticus: JBL 132, 2013, 473–494.

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Published abstract: Forty-five years after James Barr’s Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament appeared, it is time to reiterate his call for a balanced approach to philology and textual criticism. Though the essential issues are the same as when Barr wrote, the amount of textual data from the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as methodological challenges to the standard view of the linguistic history of ancient Hebrew have produced a significantly more complex situation. As scholars move forward in both subdisciplines of Hebrew studies—textual criticism and historical linguistics—it is more critical than ever to keep in mind that the history of the text and the history of the language are inextricably bound to each other. Using two variants in Leviticus, I will illustrate what a reasonably balanced approach looks like from the perspective of a Hebrew linguist, with the hope that textual critics and Hebrew linguists will see the need to work more closely with each other.

Huber, Karl, Untersuchungen über den Sprachcharakter des griechischen Leviticus, Gießen 1916.

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Die „Untersuchungen“ beruhen auf folgender Septuagintaausgabe: Brooke, A.E.; McLean, N., The Old Testament in Greek, Vol. I. The Octateuch; part I: Genesis 1906; part II: Exodus and Leviticus, Cambridge 1909. Es handelt sich um sehr detaillierte philologische Analysen des griechischen Levitikustextes. Der Band wird durch ein griechisches und hebräisches Wortregister erschlossen; ein Stellenregister fehlt. Mit Schlussfolgerungen über die Arbeit und Tendenz des Übersetzers hält sich Huber sehr zurück. Manche Ergebnisse müssen gegebenenfalls an neueren textkritischen Ausgaben der Levitikus-Septuaginta (Göttinger Ausgabe, Rahlfs) verifiziert werden.

Hundley, Michael B., Sacred Spaces, Objects, Offerings, and People in the Priestly Texts: A Reappraisal: JBL 132, 2013, 749–767.

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Published abstract: In the Priestly texts, holiness is understood both as an absolute and as a relative term to demarcate the hierarchy within the holy sphere. Rather than primarily redefining the term “holy,” the present work aims to determine the term’s function in describing spaces, objects, offerings, and people in the Priestly account. While there are several different levels of holiness for people, places, objects, and offerings, the Priestly writers have only two terms at their disposal, “holy” and “most holy,” which they use in a dizzying combination to situate elements hierarchically. Nonetheless, once the Priestly language is clarified, elements in the holy sphere fit into a fairly consistent hierarchy. Within this taxonomic system, people have access to spaces and objects of one level of holiness higher than they themselves possess. While accessing one degree higher is acceptable, two degrees proves fatal. The Priestly labels “holy” and “most holy” mediate access, express the privilege and unnaturalness of access, and indicate the consequences of improper contact, thereby safeguarding the divine abode from improper encroachment and humanity from the corresponding punishment.

Hundley, Michael B., Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting? The Dual Nature of the Sacred Tent in the Priestly Texts, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 3–18.


Kazen, Thomas, Purity and Persia, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 435–462.

Kilchör, Benjamin, Mosetora und Jahwetora. Das Verhältnis von Deuteronomium 12–26 zu Exodus, Levitikus und Numeri (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte 21), Wiesbaden 2015.

Kline, Moshe, Structure Is Theology. The Composition of Leviticus, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 225–264.

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Abstract from OTA: The Torah is composed of non-linear, two-dimensional units that can be viewed as tabular, or woven. The identification of these building blocks makes it possible to discern the compositional structure of Leviticus. In this essay, K. presents examples of the Units, a detailed reading of Leviticus according to its three-concentric-ring structure, and a comparison between this structure and that of Genesis. Thematically, K. suggests that the structure of Leviticus leads to an experiential reading that involves a two-step process of individualization and socialization, pivoting on a core experience of imitatio Dei. The structural context of Leviticus, within two concentric rings created by Exodus and Numbers, indicates that the three central books of the Torah were constructed as five concentric rings, these reflecting the structure of the Israelite encampment in the desert. The historical narrative in the first half of Exodus, which is resumed in Num 10:11, parallels the Israelite camp; the second half of Exodus and Num 1:1-10:10 represent the Levitical camp; and the three concentric rings of Leviticus represent the court, the sanctuary, and the inner sanctum. This structure is reinforced by the structure of the Book of Numbers, which is itself formatted to reflect the structure of the camp … The present essay, with its detailed examination of Leviticus (and of Genesis and Numbers to some extent) gives credence to the view that the Torah was composed by “one major author.” The essay also resoundingly affirms Jacob Milgrom’s affirmation that “structure is theology.” [Adapted from published abstract—C.T.B.]

Marwil, David J., A Soothing Savor: JBQ 42, 2014, 169-172.

Meshel, Naphtali S., The Form and Function of a Biblical Blood Ritual, in: Vetus Testamentum 63, 2013, 276–289.

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There is a consensus in current research that Levitical law never requires blood to be tossed upon the upper surface of the altar. This conception has reinforced—and has been reinforced by—an understanding that YHWH is never to be offered blood. However, it appears that according to several priestly texts, the blood of many sacrifices, including wellbeing, whole-burnt and reparation offerings, is to be tossed upon the upper surface of the altar.

Meshel, Naphtali S., The ‚Grammar‘ of Sacrifice. A Generativist Study of the Israelite Sacrificial System in the Priestly Writings With the ‚Grammar‘ of Σ, Oxford 2014.

Meshel, Naphtali S., What Is a Zoeme? The Priestly Inventory of Sacrificial Animals, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 19–45.

Müller, Reinhard, The Sanctifying Divine Voice. The אני יהוה-Formular in the Holiness Code, in: Landy, Francis; Trevaskis, Leigh M.; Bibb, Bryan D. (Hg.), Text, Time, and Temple. Literary, Historical and Ritual Studies in Leviticus (Hebrew Bible Monographs 64), Sheffield 2015, 70–84.

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Abstract from OTA: M.’s essay explores the question of how Yhwh “speaks” to the people in the Holi­ness Code (H). He begins with the problem that Yhwh’s voice is not physically audible. So how do the people in fact hear that voice? Through an interior dialogue? A mediator? In either of these ways, the validity of divine communication would be fragile. As it is, however, the voice of Yhwh is mediated through the scriptural text and given voice in com­munal reading. M. argues that, in H, the repetition of the ʾni yhwh formula serves the rhe­torical function of sanctifying the people through the voice of the priests who read the text. In making his case, M. examines variations on the phrase and their distribution throughout H, and draws on ANE parallels in suggesting that the voicing of the formula makes Yhwh present in the midst of the people through—although distinct from—the voice of the priest. In fact, the repetition of the formula is a constant reminder that the speaker has no importance relative to the divine voice, an affirmation one finds in prophetic texts as well. M. goes on to suggest that this rhetorical purpose presumes a liturgical setting for oral delivery for H, a setting that would have been particularly important in local settings far from the divine presence residing in the central sanctuary. By addressing the people directly through the priests, Yhwh communicates the commandments by means of which the people are to sanctify themselves, and by which Yhwh will himself be sanctified in reciprocal fashion. The special place of the priests in this communicative process explains the requirement for their own sanctification in the midst of the community. [Adapted from published abstract— C.T.B.]

Niditch, Susan, Good Blood, Bad Blood: Multivocality, Metonymy, and Mediation in Zechariah 9: VT 61, 2011, 629–645.

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Published abstract: A number of scholars have pointed to the ways in which Zechariah 9 convincingly functions as a literary and conceptual whole. Approaching Zechariah 9 as a unity, however, raises important questions concerning a recurring motif in the chapter that has especially deep cultural connotations: blood.Blood is forbidden as food and unclean-rendering in Zech 9:7, blood is intimately involved in the covenantal relationship between Yahweh and Israel in 9:11 and it is part of the Israelites’ post-victory feast in several important Septuagintal traditions in 9:15. A study of the blood motif in Zechariah 9 through the lenses of a variety of anthropological and literary approaches reveals the ways in which blood operates as a symbolically rich, multivalent motif not only in this chapter but in the larger Israelite tradition.

Nihan, Christophe, The Priestly Laws of Numbers, the Holiness Legislation, and the Pentateuch, in: Frevel, Christian; Pola, Thomas; Schart, Aaron (Hg.), Torah and the Book of Numbers (FAT 2.62), Tübingen 2013, 109–137 (see OTA 37, 2014, 581–582 [no. 1936]).

Nihan, Christophe, Das Buch Levitikus. Entstehung und sozial-historische Bedeutung: BiKi 69, 2014, 64–68.

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Abstract: N. sketches a proposal for the history of origin of the Book of Leviticus. The central position of Leviticus within the Torah can be explained by its history of composition. Leviticus 1-16 marks the culmination of Priestly Narrative insofar as the presence of God within the cult is restituted. This concept corresponds to Israel’s new self-understanding as a community of the temple that replaces the king as patron of the cult. In the course of the emerging Pentateuch, Leviticus 17-26 continues the temple-oriented cosmic restitution of God’s presence within Israel: The cultic category of “holiness” becomes the basic concept of Israel’s entire existence.

Nihan, Christophe, Das Sabbatgesetz Exodus 31,12-17, die Priesterschrift und das Heiligkeitsgesetz. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit neueren Interpretationen, in: Achenbach, Reinhard; Ebach, Ruth; Wöhrle, Jakob (Hg.), Wege der Freiheit. Zur Entstehung und Theologie des Exodusbuches. Beiträge eines Symposions zum 70. Geburtstag von Rainer Albertz (AThANT 104), Zürich 2014, 131–149.

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Schlussfolgerung (S. 146): „In Ex 31,12–17 liegt eine nachpriesterschriftliche Komposition vor, die vor allem auf dem Hintergrund von Lev 17–26 zu verstehen ist, zugleich aber nicht auf einer Linie mit dem HG [Heiligkeitsgesetz] steht. Die Bedeutung dieser Einheit liegt in der Ergänzung des am Exodus orientierten Korrespondenzverhaltens Israels in Lev 17–26 um ein an der Schöpfung orientiertes Korrespondenzverhalten, bei welchem der Sabbat jetzt als privilegiertes Heiligungsmedium neben dem Tempel hervorgehoben wird, so dass beide Institutionen (Sabbat und Tempel) sich ergänzen und zusammen die beiden «Pole» der Sakralität für die nachexilischen israelitischen Gemeinden definieren. Die Komposition ist weder einer «Pentateuchredaktion» noch einer «Heiligkeitsredaktion» zuzuordnen, sondern geht auf eine spätere, das HG zugleich weiterführende und revidierende Bearbeitung des Pentateuch zurück, die priesterlichen Kreisen der spätachämenidischen Zeit in Judäa und Samaria entstammt.“

Nihan, Christophe, The Templization of Israel in Levitcus. Some Remarks on Blood Disposal and Kipper in Leviticus 4, in: Landy, Francis; Trevaskis, Leigh M.; Bibb, Bryan D. (Hg.), Text, Time, and Temple. Literary, Historical and Ritual Studies in Leviticus (Hebrew Bible Monographs, 64), Sheffield 2015, 94–130.

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Abstract from OTA: N. offers a detailed study of the connection between blood disposal and the functioning of the kipper ritual for inadvertent sin in Leviticus 4. He evaluates the major theories that have attempted to explain the purpose of the blood ritual, concluding that these are based on inferences prompted by gaps in the text and are dependent on unprovable parallels with other texts and ancient practices. Thus, e.g., N. discusses J. Milgrom’s theory that Leviticus 4 and 16 are companion rituals for the cleansing of sancta from impurity by inadvertent sins (chap. 4) and other offenses (chap. 16). However, for N., there is no evidence that the blood ritual must be consistent across P texts, such that Milgrom’s theory requires him to make several questionable harmonizing moves. N. further rejects Milgrom’s proposal that the function of the ḥṭʾt in Leviticus 4 is to purify the sanctuary rather than the offerer. He then considers several additional proposals inspired by Milgrom’s work, in particular the idea that the ḥṭʾt in Leviticus 4 has two functions, i.e., the purification of the altar as well as the worshiper. In the end, N. argues that what is needed is an interpretation of the blood rite in the kipper ritual that does not require a coherent, uniform meaning for the blood or its use. His own proposal is that the blood ritual of the ḥṭʾt functions to „index“ the „templization“ of the group identified as „Israel“ in the text. An „index,“ as distinct from a „symbol,“ is based not on social convention but rather on an existential connection with the object to which it refers. The manner in which the blood is handled is what sets the ḥṭʾt apart from other sacrifices, and the application of the blood to the sancta creates a de facto connection between the offerer and the inaccessible deity, and thus „indexes“ the role played by the sanctuary in the community. In addition, the blood ritual demarcates the basic ritual, social, political and legal-ethical hierarchies within „Israel.“ Thereby, the ḥṭʾt ritual becomes the site in which Israel establishes a relationship with its deity and also creates a coherent whole out of its component parts. [Adapted from published abstract—C.T.B.]

Otto, Eckart, Priesterschrift und Deuteronomium im Buch Levitikus. Zur Integration des Deuteronomiums in den Pentateuch, in: Hartenstein, Friedhelm; Schmid, Konrad (Hg.), Abschied von der Priesterschrift? Zum Stand der Pentateuchdebatte, Leipzig 2015, 161–185.


Pakala, James C., A Librarian’s Comments on Commentaries 36 (Leviticus and Also Some Problems for Commentaries): Presbyterion 40, 2014, 47–52.

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Published abstract: P. briefly surveys and evaluates six, English-language commentaries on the Book of Leviticus of the last 35+ years. In each instance, he devotes particular attention to how the given commentator deals with two long-standing problems posed by the book, i.e., the rationale for the requirement that the purification process for the mother of a female infant be twice as long as that for a male (see Lev 12:5) and the meaning of the term “Azazel” in Leviticus 16.

Rudnig, Thilo Alexander, Art. Heilig / profan / Heiligkeit: Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet: www.wibilex.de (April 2014). Link WiBiLex

Samuel, Michael Leo, Torah from Alexandria. Philo as a Biblical Commentator: Volume 3: Leviticus, New York 2015.

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Editor’s abstract: The third volume of Torah from Alexandria sets on display how Philo interpreted the role of the Temple, offerings, festivals, dietary practices, marital laws, and laws of purity. While Philo always remains firmly committed to the importance of the actual religious act, he consistently derives ethical lessons from these ritual practices, thus putting him alongside the great Jewish philosophers of history. Reading Philo alongside Rabbinic wisdom, Greek philosophy, Patristic writers, as well as Medieval and modern authors, breathes new life into the complexities of Leviticus and reinstates Philo’s importance as a biblical exegete. Reclaiming Philo as a Jewish exegete puts him in company with the great luminaries of Jewish history—a position that Philo richly deserves. Philo remains as one of Jewish history’s most articulate spokespersons for ethical monotheism. Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel has meticulously culled from all of Philo’s exegetical comments, and arranged them according to the biblical verses. He provides extensive parallels from rabbinic literature, Greek philosophy, and Christian theology, to present Philo’s writing in the context of his time, while also demonstrating Philo’s unique method of interpretation.

Schellenberg, Annette, More Than Spirit. On the Physical Dimension in the Priestly Understanding of Holiness: ZAW 126, 2014, 163–179.

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Again and again, the Priestly text emphasizes bodily issues – in addition to the reference to male and female in Gen 1,27 and the emphasis on circumcision as the sign of the covenant in Gen 17, this is demonstrated most clearly in regulations for impurity, sin, sacrifices, and rituals and in the special requirements for priests. This article maintains that this focus on bodily issues is a reflection of an understanding of holiness that comprises a physical dimension – even when it comes to God.

Schellenberg, Annette, „Ein beschwichtigender Geruch für JHWH“. Zur Rolle der Sinne im Kult (nach den priesterlichen Texten), in: van Oorschot, Jürgen; Wagner, Andreas (Hg.), Anthropologie(n) des Alten Testaments (Veröffentlichungen der Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft für Theologie 42), Leipzig 2015, 132–158.

Schenker, Adrian, Unreinheit, Sünde und Sündopfer. Kritische Untersuchung zweier verbreiteter Thesen: befleckende Sünden (moral impurity) und Sündopfer chaṭṭaʾt als Reinigungsopfer für das Heiligtum: BZ 59, 2015, 1–16.

Stendebach, Franz-Josef, Das Opfer in den Religionen der Menschheit, 2015, http://lev.thomashieke.de/stendebach-opfer/.


Vogels, Walter, Célébration et sainteté. Le Lévitique (Lectio divina, 207), Paris 2015..

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Abstract from OTA 38, 2015, 800, #2620: For many readers, both scholarly and non-scholarly, Leviticus is an off-putting and thus understandably neglected book. In this volume directed to non-specialist, but potentially interested readers, V. begins with an introduction which comments on Leviticus’ centrality within the Pentateuch and salvation history overall, as well as diachronic and synchronic approaches to the book. He then proceeds to survey the book’s four main sections (chaps. 1-7, 8-10, 11-16, and 17-27) and their component sub-sections in turn. In each instance, V. devotes particular attention to the internal organization of the given unit, the principles underlying its often arcane laws, and the enduring values those laws seek to promote, e.g., solidarity, mutual respect, and personal responsibility, and the interweaving of religious and social concerns (whence V.’s title “celebration and holiness” for his study of the book). The volume concludes with a brief list of recent French and English-language commentaries on Leviticus.-C.T.B.

Warner, Megan, The Holiness School in Genesis, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 155–174.

Whitekettle, Richard, A Study in Scarlet: The Physiology and Treatment of Blood, Breath, and Fish in Ancient Israel: Journal of Biblical Literature 135, 2016, 685-704.

Published Abstract »

Leviticus 7:26 and 17:10–14 state that the blood of land animals and aerial animals must not be consumed. These verses say nothing, however, about the blood of fish, implying that the consumption of fish blood is permitted. This difference in the treatment of land/aerial animal blood and fish blood is based on a belief that the blood of land/aerial animals is a breath/blood amalgam, while the blood of fish is simply blood. Thus, what Lev 7:26 and 17:10–14 prohibited was the consumption of a land/aerial animal’s breath/blood amalgam. And, since it was breath that set this amalgam apart from the blood of a fish, it was really the consumption of a land/aerial animal’s breath that was being prohibited. It was believed that the breath of a land/aerial animal was the essence of its life and that God had complete sovereignty over a land/aerial animal’s breath. Consequently, by prohibiting its consumption, the Levitical/Priestly tradents hallowed the breath of a land/aerial animal and acknowledged that sovereignty over it belonged exclusively to God.

HThKAT – fortgeführt …