Jonathan Klawans

in Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780195132908
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848850 | DOI:

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Reevaluation of the topic of impurity and sin is necessary since the question of the relationship between the two in ancient Judaism has not been adequately addressed since Buchler's Studies appeared in 1928. A few classic works on impurity in ancient Judaism, scholarship that has had, for better or worse, a significant impact on the scholarly discussion, are described in detail. The two “classics”—works of scholarship from before the Second World War, which remain significant today—are also presented. The first is Adolph Buchler's Studies in Sin and Atonement, with its two chapters on the defiling force of sin. Then, Gedalyahu Alon's essay “The Bounds of the Laws of Levitical Cleanness” is addressed. Next, the Introduction considers Douglas' Purity and Danger. It also examines Neusner's The Idea of Ancient Judaism. The second section of the introduction identifies the scholarship devoted to clarifying the relationship between impurity and sin in the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, the scholars who have contributed positively to the understanding of the fact that certain grave sins have their own distinct force in the Hebrew Bible are reported.

Keywords: impurity; sin; ancient Judaism; Adolph Buchler; Gedalyahu Alon; Douglas; Neusner; Hebrew Bible

Chapter.  9476 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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