The Body/House Cosmogram

Mary Douglas

in Jacob's Tears

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780199265237
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602054 | DOI:
The Body/House Cosmogram

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Continues with the analysis of the structure of the Book of Leviticus that was started in the Ch. 5. Its literary scheme and the annual ritual cycle of the priests in the tabernacle both celebrate the same, all‐embracing model of the universe, which holds good for Mount Sinai, the Covenant and the tabernacle: this is the microcosm – a microcosm whose centre can be both at the summit and at the heart (or the head). The first part of the chapter introduces the characteristics of a microcosm and of its analogies, pointing out that it reduces ambiguities, although at the same time problems may be caused by the conflation of analogies, such as that between body and house in the gospels. Various examples of microcosms are outlined – the Chinese emperor, the flow model of the Lele people in the Congo, the Berber house (or world reversed) of Pierre Bordeau, Paul's microcosm in the New Testament, and the relations between analogy and practical reason are discussed. The last part of the chapter looks specifically at Leviticus’ body/temple analogy as a functioning microcosm (in which the analogies rest on a basis of proportionality – in this case, a tripartite design embodying the sacrificial animal, the shape of the tabernacle, and the proportions of the original epiphanic Mount Sinai), at the Book of Leviticus as a body, and at the view of the virtual tabernacle of the exile (which period was when Leviticus was composed and edited) and the changes in interpretation that occurred on return from exile.

Keywords: analogies; body/temple analogy; covenant; exile; God's covenant; interpretation; Leviticus; microcosms; models; Mount Sinai; sacrificial animal; structure; tabernacle; tripartite design

Chapter.  9218 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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