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The Politics of Ritual Rhetoric: A Proposed Sociopolitical Context for the Redaction of Leviticus 1-16

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Recent studies have indicated the rhetorical purpose of Leviticus 1-16 as reification for the ritual authority of the Aaronide priesthood. In the present study, it is suggested that the literary shaping of these chapters was a response to external stimuli that threatened the priesthood. After weighing a variety of historical and socio-political contexts in which such a threat might have emerged, the tenure of Nehemiah as governor is considered as an example of the type of competing leadership typology that encroached upon the priesthood, and the rhetorical features of the Nehemiah Memoir are reconsidered in this light. The redaction of Leviticus 1-16 provides a sacral counter argument to administrative agents such as Nehemiah and his supporters, supporting an ideology where national survival was ensured not through interaction with Persia but through the integrity of Temple ritual entrusted solely to the Aaronide priests.

Affiliations: 1: Temple University Philadelphia, PA


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