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The Popular Religion in the Holiness Code

김선종 1

1한남대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article tries to reveal the popular religion of the ancient Israel hidden in the Holiness Code by analyzing the concepts of God and the land. According to Wellhausen's traditional historical criticism, the Holiness Code including Leviticus reflects the theology of the elite priestly group in the postexilic period when there was no king in Israel. These priests would have seized the political power as well as the religious one. Therefore, it is natural to assume that the religion of this power group formulates the state religion. However, this perspective may be a simplistic hypothesis on the history of Israel because several texts of the Holiness Code uncover the strata of the popular religion of the Israelites. First, the biblical readers find some texts in which God is demonstrated as a personal God. This fact draws our attention in that the individualized God is a particular character of the popular religion in the Ancient Near East. Moreover, the image of God who eats the food in the Holiness Code is different from God of the power elite who wants to abstract the popular image from God. So, the expression 'food of God' is used not merely for the anthropomorphic and literary usage but shows the naive idea of people on their immanent God. Second, the notion on the land of the Holiness Code is not the same as that of Deuteronomy. While, in this book, the land of Israel is conquered by the Israelites by the conquering war, people are expelled by the land when it is defiled by them in the Holiness Code. The land of Israel is described as God's extended sanctuary. This aspect is consistent with the H's description on the land as a Nazarite. As a being distinguished to God, the land has to maintain its purity. The land as a mother conceiving the creatures is an important character of the popular religion. This study on the popular religion of the Holiness Code demands us to reconsider the traditional hypothesis that has been estimated as the unanimous opinion on the formation of the Pentateuch. Although the Torah would have been finally edited by the priests or the scribes, this religious leader group does not reject unconditionally the religion of people but absorbs its dynamic faith.

Citation status

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