The Laws of Clean and Unclean Animals of Leviticus 11: their Nature, Theology, and Rationale (an Intertextual Study)

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Moskala, Jiří
Biblical Studies; Jewish Studies; Religion
thesis / dissertation description
The present dissertation attempts to fill the gap in Pentateuchal studies on the Mosiac dietary laws concerning clean and unclean animals by investigating the nature, theology, and rationale of the food regulations.My study is divided into four chapters. After an introduction (where the problem of the topic, methodology, limits, purpose, and justification of the study are presented) chapter 1 deals with the chronological development of the interpretation of the laws of clean and uncle food. Chapter 2 reviews relevant explanations of these laws topically, analyzes them, and briefly evaluated the different approaches to the Pentateuchal dietary laws. Chapter 3 examines the context and the literary structure of Lev 11 and demonstrates on exegetical grounds various links among Pentateuchal passages (Gen 1-2, Gen 3, Gen 7-9, Lev 11, and Deut 14:2-21). Chapter 4 describes these dietary regulations in the broader perspective of a theology of eating. The rationale of dietary rules is explored. The final conclusion summarizes the main points of the investigation.This intertextual study within the canonical text of the Pentateuch demonstrates exegetically that the Mosaic laws of clean and unclean animals are to be taken as dietary laws (Lev 11:1-23, 41-47; Deut 14:2-21). The present thesis differentiates between two basic types of uncleanness: ritual/ceremonial and natural/hereditary. Ritual uncleanness is closely associated with elements of time, and/or isolation, and/or cleansing, and/or sacrifices. On the other hand, natural uncleanness, which is related only to the dietary laws, is permanent, and no rituals are involved. I argue that such a category of uncleanness belongs to universal law.The Mosaic dietary laws are built on the Genesis creation cosmology. The taxonomy of these laws reflects the categories of animals presented in the creation story. The first creation account stresses concepts of life, habitats, locomotion, separation, limits, different categories of living creatures, the image of God, and holiness. Gen 2 adds the important theological dimension of choice among the trees in the garden of Eden in relationship to eating. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil teaches humans their limits. Gen 3 presents new dietary regulations with the story of original sin. The flood story introduces the concept of clean and unclean animals, and the new creation order as presented in Gen 9 stresses prohibition of blood.The links between the main Pentateuchal sections related to the dietary laws are firmly established on terminological, conceptual, stylistic, structural, and theological grounds, especially Gen 1-2, Gen 3, Gen 9, and Deut 14:2-21 which are explored in relationship to Lev 11. This study reveals that there is a definite link between the Mosaic laws and the creation account.The primary rationale of the Mosaic dietary laws is respect for the Creator. Under this umbrella other important aspects are included: holiness (imitate Dei), natural repulsiveness, a wall against paganism, health, and respect for life.A model of Creation-Fall-New Creation order is reflected in the formation of the dietary laws. Laws regarding clean animals maintain and sustain life (originally included in the creation order of vegetarian Edenic food prescriptions); this principle of life lies behind the new creation order reflected in the prohibition of blood, and is included in the Mosaic dietary laws. On the other hand, the laws of unclean animals are connected to death: several factors must be integrated in order to explain the uncleanness, such as carnivorous habits of unclean animals, use of some of them in war, unsuitability for human health, etc. Thus the overarching criterion for the laws of clean and unclean animals is Creation itself, which is linked to ice, whereas departure from the Creation ideal (the Fall) is tied to death. Any factor which reflects primary concern for the life-death principle is taken seriously in this approach. Because the Creation-Fall-New Creation model lies behind the Pentateuchal dietary regulations, I call my theological interpretation the "Creation-Fall-New Creation pattern theory."