Illuminating Leviticus: A Study of Its Laws and Institutions in the Light of Biblical Narratives

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The origin of law in the Hebrew Bible has long been the subject of scholarly debate. Until recently, the historico-critical methodologies of the academy have yielded unsatisfactory conclusions concerning the source of these laws which are woven through biblical narratives. In this original and provocative study, Calum Carmichael-a leading scholar of biblical law and rhetoric-suggests that Hebrew law was inspired by the study of the narratives in Genesis through 2 Kings. Discussing particular laws found in the book of Leviticus-addressing issues such as the Day of Atonement, consumption of meat that still has blood, the Jubilee year, sexual and bodily contamination, and the treatment of slaves-Carmichael links each to a narrative. He contends that biblical laws did not emerge from social imperatives in ancient Israel, but instead from the careful, retrospective study of the nation's history and identity.