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Leviticus in Hebrews

A Transtextual Analysis of the Tabernacle Theme in the Letter to the Hebrews

Mayjee Philip

Scholarly consensus on the relationship of the Letter to the Hebrews to the Old Testament is far from universal or uniform. This book aims to address this area in Hebrews scholarship, which is lacking a critical account of the dependence of Hebrews on the Old Testament, especially Leviticus, in constructing a meaningful text. The book examines how the author of Hebrews uses the textual levitical tabernacle theme to construct the central motif of the heavenly tabernacle in Hebrews. In analysing the ways in which Hebrews relates to the Old Testament, the author makes use of literary theorist Gérard Genette’s concepts of transtextuality and transformation. These concepts help set in relief the variegated textual relationships Hebrews has with the Old Testament in general, and Leviticus in particular, and the transformations that are central to constituting meaning in Hebrews.


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Chapter 2 - The Tabernacle in Leviticus -23


Chapter 2 The Tabernacle in Leviticus The literary context of Leviticus is governed by the framework of the Sinai covenant to which it belongs and is largely characterized by God communicating to Moses on the one hand, and Moses in turn communi- cating God’s commands to the people on the other hand. The tabernacle represents God’s “dwelling” among the Israelites and is alternatively called the tent of meeting, the place where God meets with Moses and Aaron. Considerable amount of narrative space in Exodus (25–31, 35–40) is spent on the description of its design and construction. It is a richly bedecked, portable, tent-like structure that is central to ancient Israel’s religious life. The tabernacle has an outer court which contains a bronze altar for burnt of ferings and a water basin. A curtain divides the outer court from the next section, the inner court, which is further divided into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place. In the Holy Place are placed a lampstand, a bread table, and an incense altar. The Holy of Holies contains the Ark, which encases the covenant, and is therefore called the Ark of the Covenant. This is the most ornamented piece of furnishing1 in the entire 1 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood; it shall be two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside...

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