The Priestly Narrative

This is a graduate seminar, and has been designed as an introduction to the pentateuchal Priestly Narrative, with a specific focus on the question of the relationship between its narrative and ritual components. To that end, a significant focus of the course will be an engagement with different theoretical approaches, including (but not limited to) narratology, ritual theory, and the myth/ritual school of thought. This course has three main objectives:

  • to introduce students to the Priestly Narrative, its distinct worldview, and the place of these materials in the history of biblical scholarship
  • to practice reading extended sections of biblical Hebrew prose, with an eye to both structure and content, and
  • to engage with multiple different theoretical intertexts that have relevance not only for the Priestly Narrative, but also for other biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature.

The ritual materials in the Priestly Narrative have played a significant role in the reconstruction of ancient Israelite religion. One of the overarching questions this seminar seeks to address is what role ritual writing, and narrativized ritual materials more broadly, can and should have in the construction of histories.

The Priestly Narrative Syllabus

As part of this course, students are required to lead seminar-style discussions on theoretical texts. I have developed a handout to help them prepare for these sessions, and provided tips for reading theory.