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image of Vetus Testamentum

There are several diverences between the laws of cult and the pre-supposition regarding ritual and impurity in the Priestly Schools and the book of Deuteronomy. Both sources regard the relationship between the priest and the laity and the access to the sacred in diverent ways. The fundamental reason that lies at the base of these diverent cultic systems is distinct perceptions of holiness. The diverence is not in the concept of what is holy and what is profane, but rather in the understanding of what holiness really is. The Priestly Schools view holiness as dynamic, sensitive and dangerous, and maintain that the access to the sacred should be limited. In contrast, in Deuteronomy holiness is static, and the access to the sacred is far less restricted, since it is not dangerous or threatening. In other words, in Deuteronomy holiness is not an active entity but a status. These opposing world-views regarding the holy are actually related to general conceptions about the character of the relationship between humans and nature on the one hand, and between man and God on the other hand.


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