THERE – Theory and Empiricism of Religious Evolution: Foundation of a Research Program

5. Evolutionary Foundation of Systems Theory (fn)

This path is followed, for instance, by the compilation of the Book of Leviticus as part of the Pentateuch of the Hebrew Bible. Although it contains instructions for rituals, it is “not primarily a book for priests. It is not a priestly manual, and it does not seem to have priests as its target audience, though priests were no doubt a part of the intended audience. [...] The primary message of Leviticus seems to have been theological. [...] the writer of Leviticus wanted to express himself about conduct in the individual’s daily life, and conduct with regard to ritual purity and cultic regulations was parallel to what we might call moral and ethical conduct” (Grabbe 2003, 221–223). The Book of Leviticus is embedded within the compilation of the Pentateuch in the Sinai narration complex (for the relationship between narratives and ritual descriptions in Leviticus, see Bibb 2009). The core of Leviticus is chapter 19 (Douglas 2000, 228–229.239–240) with the central commandment in verse 18: “[…] you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Scofield Study Bible III 2002, 178). This way, “cultic institutions and the encounter with YHWH […] are transposed from their historical space to the ‘text space’” (Liss 2004, 23). (It is yet another question whether we can refer from the textual space to the historical space.) For reading as (sublimed or substitutive) sacrificial ritual, cf. Erbele-Küster (2014). I owe this example to lectures of and chats with Jim Watts during his time as a fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Dynamics in the history of religions between Asia and Europe”.

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