“Priestly” Writings from the 7th to 2nd Centuries BCE (G)

Syllabus – Priestly Writings from the 7th–2nd Centuries (Fall 2022)

In this course we will be looking at the category of “priestly” as it is used by scholars to describe a variety of ancient Israelite and early Jewish literary works. This course will examine a variety of writings from the 7th–2nd centuries BCE related to issues of ritual, cult, temple, priests, and sacrifice. Together we will investigate the possibility of literary relationships between some texts, question assumptions related to “rewritten bible” models, and reevaluate the common assumption that the pentateuchal priestly writings are the “base text” for nearly all later priestly literatures. We will consider each text as a literary work in its own right and as the product of a specific socio-historical context, an approach that will point to diverse and divergent cultic ideologies across Judea and the Diaspora (particularly in Egypt). Some of the texts we may study are: the pentateuchal priestly narrative (P), Ezekiel, Chronicles, documents from Elephantine, the Temple Scroll, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Aramaic Levi Document. Other texts may be brought into our discussions as well. Knowledge of Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and/or Greek is helpful, but not required for the course. All texts will be made available in English translation.