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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 3 - The Tabernacle in Hebrews -47


Chapter 3 The Tabernacle in Hebrews The author of Hebrews uses the OT with the goal of instructing his readers in matters of doctrine and faith, and for the purpose of communicating the relation between the OT and Jesus to individuals, who, according to the author, should have been “teachers,” but instead have to be taught them- selves (5:12–14). To this end, his primary motifs are priesthood, covenant, and sacrifice. The author of Hebrews claims a common ancestry with his audience: “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets” (1:1), but at the particular point in their corporate history they also need to be encouraged to, “pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). This pattern of reminding/ warning, together with comparing and reinterpreting the OT in light of Jesus’ suf fering, death, and resurrection can be traced in the entire text. In his opening remarks, the author makes eight claims about God’s Son: i. God has spoken “to us” through his Son (1:2), ii. God appointed him heir of all things (1:2), iii. God made the worlds through him (1:2), iv. The Son ref lects God’s glory (1:3), v. He is “the exact imprint of God’s very being” (1:3), vi. He sustains all things by his powerful word (1:3), vii. He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven...

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