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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 5 - Old Questions – New Answers? -81


Chapter 5 Old Questions – New Answers? The Use of the OT in Hebrews Within the larger Greco-Roman context, the use of the OT in the first century was simultaneously widespread and idiosyncratic. The early Chris- tian communities, the Qumran community and the Rabbis of the first century, besides other groups, were dependent on the OT. Each of these groups produced their own texts and theologies by appropriating, inter- preting, and applying the OT to their particular contexts. So also the NT authors depended on the OT as their primary source from which they developed their theology. The dif ference between the way in which NT authors appropriated and applied the OT compared to other groups lies in their hermeneutics based on the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah. From his analysis of the history of the use of the OT in the NT, Harry Y. Gamble states that: It appears that there was never a time when the kerygma of the church was not accompanied by an appeal to Jewish scripture. The most primitive confessional and homiletical material incorporated allusions to and quotations from it. In the earli- est Christian documents preserved, the apostle Paul frequently resorts to Jewish scripture in writing to Gentile congregations. Paul’s heritage is Jewish but he clearly expects that his Gentile Christian readers will also be familiar with Jewish scripture and that scripture will carry the weight of authority with them. The same expecta- tions are evident in most of the rest of the literature...

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