Inside the House/Book of God

Mary Douglas

in Leviticus as Literature

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244195
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600548 | DOI:
 Inside the House/Book of God

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Exodus recounts how beautifully the tabernacle was made; the psalmist extols the house of God; but Leviticus honours it in its own style, opening with God calling Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, and with the tabernacle remaining throughout not just the ground and pivot of all its teaching, but the actual structure on which its literary form has been projected. The narratives (stories) in Leviticus have suggested an unexpected partitioning of the book (see previous chapter): they divide it into three unequal compartments with laws filling the spaces between them. These compartments correspond to the relative size of the chambers in the desert tabernacle built according to God’s instructions in Exodus, and the result is to project the three parts of the book onto the tripartite architecture of the tabernacle, itself modelled on the threezoned proportions of the holy mountain. When the laws have been placed, as it were, in each part of the building, as prescribed by their position in the book, they turn out to describe the contents or the actions that are supposed to be performed in the appropriate compartment, or to describe the requirements for entry into it; other markers are placed along the way to confirm the parallel. The different sections of this chapter discuss macro markers, the outer court of the tabernacle, the sanctuary, atonement and pedimental composition.

Keywords: architecture; atonement; Bible; compartments; Exodus; laws; Leviticus; literary form; markers; narratives; pedimental composition; sanctuary; structure; tabernacle

Chapter.  7603 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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