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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Ritual Words and Narrative Worlds in the Book of Leviticus
Bibb, Bryan D.

New York: T & T Clark, 2008 pp. vi + 182. $115.00

Series Information
The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 480

Description: This book argues that literary features and ritual dynamics within the book of Leviticus enlighten each other. The first two chapters establish that one may read Leviticus as a coherent literary work and define the genre of Leviticus as “narrativized ritual,” a complex blending of descriptive narrative and prescriptive ritual. In conversation with Catherine Bell, they present several aspects of the text that are ritualized and show how this ritualization implies a negotiation of power relations among participants. The third and fourth chapters examine the first half of Leviticus, both the legal sections in Lev. 1–7 and 11–15 and the narratives in Lev. 8-10 and 16. These sections alternate between establishing the ritual system and exposing gaps and ambiguities in that system.Chapter 5 turns to the second half of Leviticus, traditionally called the Holiness Code. The ritual language found in this section is less formal and precise, mirroring the way in which the concept of holiness is expanded and extended to the whole people. As this material concludes the book, it relativizes and democratizes the strict ritual system contained in the first half.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Leviticus, Literature

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Review by Dorothea Erbele-Küster
Published 1/9/2010
Citation: Dorothea Erbele-Küster, review of Bryan D. Bibb, Ritual Words and Narrative Worlds in the Book of Leviticus, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2010).

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