The Book of Leviticus - The Basis for Holiness

July 4-25, 2018


The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) is the third book of the Pentateuch (Torah). The essence of the book is expressed in a single word, ‘holiness’, an idea in the verse: “Holy are you to be, for holy am I, YHWH your God” (19.2).  Leviticus is all about how Israel was to live as a holy nation. Among the topics to be dealt with are: the sacrificial order, concern for the ‘other’ (sojourners, strangers, the unwanted), dietary laws, sabbath, festival and feasts, sexual relations, among others.



Based on readings from the Book of Leviticus and its accompanying prophetic readings, we will explore aspects of holiness and intimacy with God, utilizing rabbinic sources such as midrash and Talmud, as well as Jewish and Christian commentators from late antiquity to modernity. Of equal importance are the various academic and pastoral approaches to the Book of Leviticus that will encourage a new encounter with the Book and a renewed view on cultural and religious attitudes. The course is taught by a team of Jewish and Christian professors.


Partial bibliography:

Jacob Milgrom. Leviticus. The Anchor Bible.

Everett Fox. The Five Books of Moses. A New Translation & Commentary. Word Publishing.

Mary Douglass. Purity and Danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. Ark Publishing.

Elyse Goldstein, ed. The Women’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women                  Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions. Jewish Lights.

Arthur Green, The Language of Truth: The Torah Commentary of the Sefat Emet. Jewish Publication Society.

Nehama Leibowitz, Leviticus. The World Zionist Organization.