The Two Screens

Mary Douglas

in Leviticus as Literature

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244195
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600548 | DOI:
 The Two Screens

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Leviticus consists almost entirely of divine laws, which are interrupted twice by narratives, and both of these interruptions are about encroachment on the divine prerogative; there is no accepted explanation for why they should occur where they do. The explanation proposed in this chapter is that the structure of law and narrative cuts the book to the shape of the controlling paradigm. This means that the book of Leviticus itself is structured as a tripartite projection of the tabernacle, and thus also as a projection of Mount Sinai. On this reading the two stories (narratives) correspond to two screens which, according to the instructions given in Exodus, divide the desert tabernacle into three sections of unequal size: the narratives interrupt the movement through the laws as the two screens interrupt the movement through the tabernacle. This thesis is discussed in sections covering: Leviticus as a projection of the tabernacle; fire for fire, and burning for burning; the curser cursed; the scandal of the law of talion (retaliation); and the language of oracles.

Keywords: Bible; }{burning; cursing; divine laws; divine prerogative; Exodus; fire; law of talion; Leviticus; literary form; Mount Sinai; narratives; oracles; retaliation; structure; tabernacle

Chapter.  8460 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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