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Exegesis or Eisegesis: Does chiastic analysis help us to understand Leviticus 20?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChiasmus
Subtitle of host publicationThe State of the Art
EditorsJohn W. Welch, Donald W. Parry
Publisher or commissioning bodySociety of Biblical Literature
DateAccepted/In press - 6 May 2019

Publication series

NameWritings from the Ancient World, Ancient Israel and Its Literature
PublisherSociety of Biblical Literature


Contrary to the arguments of some scholars, Leviticus 20 is not simply a miscellaneous collection of legal material. Rather, the chapter is chiastic, structured according to who has responsibility to punish various offenses. Two parts of the overall chiasm are themselves chiastically structured, and the center-point of the chiasm (the punishments meted out by humanity) consists of a series of binary oppositions. A common structure in biblical law, these particular binary oppositions are based on the identities of the parties involved in sexual offenses. They are presented in increasing order of their deviation from the biblical norm of sexual relations. After outlining this sophisticated literary structure and speculating as to its purposes, a three-fold test for validating the presence of chiasmus is offered, which, it is concluded, this analysis satisfies.



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