Moral and Ritual Knowing

The biblical authors largely consider ethical preparation to be an essential feature of a ritual’s ability to “work.” By “ethical,” I mean their moral responsibilities based on their history and relation to God, enemies, neighbors, aliens, children, animals, homes, and the dirt beneath their feet. By “work,” I mean the ritual’s ability to show the participants something they could not otherwise see—to know through the ritual. 

In my 2016 book—Knowledge by Ritual—I argue that the Torah envisions good knowing as a process where one heeds authoritative teachers and embodies their ritual instructions in order to know. The ritual instructions, however, entail the ethical behaviors prior tothe rite, a complication that gets meted out variously in the prophetic material. 

Israel’s prophets prescribe and recall rituals intent on fostering knowledge in tandem with a panoramic matrix of ethical behaviors. More striking, we do not find Israelites in the Hebrew Bible described as thinkers who then act. Rather, the prophets’ expect Israel to practicea nexus of ethically-induced rituals aimed at intellectual formation. In light of this, I argue below that it’s the ethical preparation of a ritual that then constitutes Israel’s knowledge as much as the rites she performs.[1]


It may not be immediately obvious why I am discussing the sacraments of Israel in the language of ritual theory. “Ritual” offers a conceptual umbrella under which liturgies and sacraments are particular forms of rituals. However, if we attempt to discuss liturgies or sacraments apart from ritual thinking (as many current works on liturgy tend to do), we encounter all the theological hoops needed in order to understand why Communion is different from dinner (or Passover!). While those hoops may be necessary in the end, I would rather work from the broader to the more specific. Hence, many biblical scholars have found the anthropological theories of ritual to be helpful here—especially the likes of Mary Douglas and Catherine Bell. I’ll focus here on Bell’s significant contribution to ritual theory in general and biblical rituals in particular.

Catherine Bell’s 1992 work Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice” changed the framework for understanding the nature and function of ritual.”[2]Without rehearsing all the ways in which this might be true, we will take her core observations as directive. One of her main complaints with her colleagues is their presumptions about the symbolic nature of ritual.

Basically, if rituals are primarily conceived of as symbolic expressions of beliefs—beliefs in the minds of the participants—then ritual is fundamentally a thinking-man’s game where actions represent thoughts directly. And it works in that direction: inner thoughts to outer actions. Bell argues that an inner-outer approach foists more onto ritual than seeks to understand what actually happens in and through ritual. For my purposes, such a view excludes what the Scriptures plainly report, that at least some of Israel’s rituals—if not all of them—are meant to form knowers and not merely express what is already believed or known. 

Bell identifies the center of this problematic discourse amongst ritual theorists as the thinking-acting dichotomy: Because we think, we therefore act. Several movements in scholarship have buffeted this thinking-acting dichotomy in the twentieth century.[3]The “guerilla activity against the dualities of mind—body” proliferated across a broad spectrum of criticisms. Phenomenological approaches argued for the value of human experience as philosophically rich. But also, the rise in analogical thought as grounds for human reason[4]along with the ideological critiques caused a broad re-appraisal of the body as integral to thought.[5]Basically, the body as the conceptual center of epistemology had a rigorous and growing defense by the mid-twentieth century.

If ritual participants are not just thinkers symbolically expressing their thoughts, how are rituals a kind of thinking? Two problems immediately present themselves. First, we must describe rituals so that we can differentiate what is normal non-ritualed human activity and what is special ritual activity. For instance, archaeologists and anthropologists who work on ancient sacrifices often note the difficulty in determining whether animal or human remains are merely ordinary interment, sacred graves, or human sacrifice.[6]When archaeologists find a child’s remains under the corner foundation of an ancient house, it is hardly clear how and why the body was placed there. This to say—both among archaeological finds and anthropological study today—it is not always obvious what rituals are, as opposed to ordinary human practices.

The problem of differentiating rituals from normal practices does not evaporate by observing current rather than ancient rituals, or, actual rather than textual accounts of ritual. Today, omnivores like me participate—either by proxy or directly—in slaughtering animals and interring human remains as often as did the ancients. What makes a modern American slaughterhouse different than the slaughter activities at the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem? What makes a cemetery burial different than an ancestral home burial of the Bronze Age? Saying that one is formal and the other informal does not resolve the ambiguity. 

Bell answers this quandary by developing the view of ritualized practice, which is meant to overcome the thinking-acting dichotomy. Seen through Bell’s version of ritualized practice, the question of rituals is not, “What beliefs enable or connect these rituals actions together?” Rather, we ask, “Why was this common practice of animal slaughter, eating a meal, or bathing appropriated to serve as a ritual?” Further, “How does this ritualized practice strategically shape the participant to understand her reality differently?”

Second, although ritual theory has helpfully adjusted away from what Catherine Bell termed the thinking-acting dichotomy, less attention has been paid to a constructive view of how a ritual might form knowledge by means of participation. Rituals aren’t merely aimed at one goal—establishing a priesthood, atoning sin, appeasing a god, etc. Rather, rituals gather actions and represent a nexus of outcomes, one of which is knowing. But as Anne Porter has recently argued, the knowledge that might be constructed through rituals is not a “one-to-one relationship” between the action and a belief.[7]Rituals are epistemologically rich and so the epistemic goals of participation cannot be reduced to discrete propositional beliefslike“ John knows that circles are round.”

In order to assess the Israelite rituals as they are presented to us across Scripture, I must offer a comprehensive view of human knowing that aptly critiques the long-held theories that “rituals express beliefs.” With Catherine Bell, I am reject the thinking-acting dichotomy,but need to show why her view that “rituals make knowers” fits the biblical accounts with higher fidelity than current epistemological constructs such asjustifiably true beliefs about the world.


Jonathan Klawans claims, “Ancient Israel was a culture that not only lived with animals but thought and theologized with them too.”[8]

The act of animal sacrifice has had an inordinate gravitational pull in the study of rituals. To theanthropologist’sdeficit, the preparation for animal sacrifice often features less in ritual theories. But according to the Torah, the Israelite’s connection to the animal, grain, or fruits being offered might have as much to do with the ritual practice as the butchering and/or burning of the sacrifice

Our Obsession with Animal Killing

A rite is a biography of events construed together, and yet we normally focus our examinations on the killing that happens at the temple. For instance, would a priest be within his rights to ask an offerer if her grain was harvested in field whose fringes were left for the poor to reap? If we think a priest ought to be able to ask, then we can see that the Levitical stipulations requiring an intentional care for the vulnerable might have direct implications beyond charity. If we think the Levite has no business asking about the condition of the sacrifice, then what do we make of the Levites ability to judge a blemished animal or the “prostitutes wages” as an offering?[9]

The point is that sacrifices began in the attentive domain of the homestead well before they come to a climax in the tabernacle/temple sacrifice. The failure to attend to this single reflection has led many anthropologists to scrutinize the study of ritualsoutofcontext. Gillian Goslinga is worth repeating on this point. Goslinga attempts an insider-sensitive approach to modern day sacrifices only to find out that she had unduly focused on the wrong cluster of events. She suggests that her myopia is similar to Christian cruci-centric understandings, which cause an undue focus on the killing of Jesus and its coordinate theological reasoning without understanding what all leads up to that event. 

This Judeo-Christian bias makes the sacrificial act the “center of gravity” of allanalyses because . . . For this reason, the sacrifice itself is typically read as the moment of greatest symbolic significance in the anthropological literature and the animal appears structurally as the “victim” because it “naturally” bears on its body the violence that should accrue to the “guilty” patron.[10]

How well can we claim to understand a rite at a clinical distance and apart from understanding the narrative of which the rite is a climax? Goslinga proposes a new view of rituals, which encompasses concentric circles leading up to the rite and then ensuing it as well.[11]

A ritual’s “center of gravity” must be understood as plotted along a multitude of centers of gravity, on either side of the act itself, and in and around the humans, converging on the ritual from the past and the future and many dispersed points in the present. These centers of gravity taken together express, quite literally throughthe everyday biographies of humans and ritual objects, one particular instantiation or perhaps orchestration of the relationship between the collective of devotees andthe divinity.[12]

So too with ancient Israel, who is given scripts of sacrifice, but even more so, instruction of normal agricultural and subsistence life in the land. Which sheep is led to the slaughter actually requires a discerning process of attentiveness to one’s flock. A subsistence-based agrarian hamlet in the Iron Age Israel simultaneously lives out many and overlapping scripts of farming, husbandry, multi-generation family relations, immigration policies, home management, participation in the local economy, and much more—all of which culminate in the sacrifice of an animal or grain on behalf of that home and family. Hence, Klawans concludes: “Rituals—sacrifice included—are multivalent entities whose levels of meaning cannot be reduced to any single idea or purpose.”[13][

A rite is a biography of events construed together, and yet we normally focus our examinations on the killing that happens at the temple, for instance. But what happens at the temple is predicated upon a series of events and biographies that build before anything happensat the temple. Below, I will argue why the biographical view of ritual is necessary in order to make sense of the Torah’s insistence and the prophetic critique regarding the ethical preparation of ritual.

The Biography of Torah Rituals

This regulation [re unblemished animals] requires of all offerers of sacrifice, priestly and otherwise, to remain keenly aware of the familial relationships among the animals to be offered as sacrifices.[14]

We do not have any extant biblical commands about how to regulate proper preparation for rituals. Although the rabbis will take up the project in detail,[15]we do not have any biblical rules on answering a question like the one posed above: Can an Israelite offer grain from a field intentionally harvested to its edges for the sake of cutting out the poor and sojourner? The question pertains to the interpenetrating nature of Torah commandments. To put it more generally, must Israelites follow the ethical teaching as preparation for their sacrifices? 

I want to suggest that Israel’s sacrifices are premised upon the explicitly moral codes in the Torah, a fact which—if it were not patently obvious in the Torah itself—is clarified repeatedly in the later prophetic critique. However, does the Torah suggest that which the prophets thought to be obvious, that ethical treatment of plants, animals, fellow Israelites, and foreigners is precisely what they brought with their sacrifice—an invisible feature of their ritual. YHWH later reveals that their invisible gifts, the Torah-crafted life of justice and righteousness, enabled the sacrifice entirely visible to him. 

First, and most obvious, the Torah contains within it a consistent expectation of moral behavior for Israelites towards the land, plants, animals, neighbors, strangers, and enemies. Moral impurity such as sexual sins, idolatry, or murder, do not just pollute an individual’s sacrificial offering. Rather, some moral sins pollute the land itself.[16]

In giving the rituals central to Israel’s livelihood, moral dynamics are directly tied to ritual practices. Hence, Leviticus and Deuteronomy can declare without explanation that Israel is not to prostitute her daughters (Lev 19:29) nor bring the wages of prostitution into the temple (Deut 23:17–18).[17]Leviticus 19 famously expounds upon the commands given on Sinai, including practical outworkings of loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Lev 19:18) and loving the resident aliens in Israel (Lev 19:33–34). What does loving the alien look like? This is partly answered in the equivalent treatment that begins within Israel between the poor and great in legal judgments (Lev 19:15–16) and extended in the market to the foreigner (Lev 19:33–36). 

Does the Torah teach that these two areas of law, ceremonial and moral, are actually inter-tangled so that one effects the other?[18]In other words, must a sacrifice be prepared according to the moral law as well as the ceremonial? 

Beginning with the priesthood, it is uncontroversial to insist that their moral behavior directly pertains to the ceremonies of Israel. Aaron and the Levites must be specially consecrated, specifically so that Israel offerings can be accepted (Exod 28:38). Indeed, one of the few narratives in Leviticus concerns the priestly failure to obey the ceremonies so that offerings could be accepted. Ultimately, this failure leads to the death of the Levites, Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10). 

Similarly, we see that Hophni and Phinehas are killed by YHWH for conniving the food offerings for themselves (1 Sam 2:12–17) and sexual promiscuity surrounding the tabernacle (1 Sam 2:22–25). Samuel’s response to his sons reveals that their role as prepared mediator condemns them (1 Sam 2:24–25). Returning to the Torah, the challenge to Levite authority in mediating access to YHWH also results in the death of Korah and his multitude (Numb 16:1–40). Notice that despite Korah’s attack on the ritual control of the Levites, Numbers characterizes their transgression in more moralistic terms: “then you shall know that these men have despised (na’atz) YHWH” (Numb 16:30). 

As it pertains to the priesthood, the Torah directly relates moral and ceremonial conduct. But with the priests, it’s because Levites must make Israel’s ritualized offerings acceptable. It appears that they must be ritualistically and morally prepared for their service as mediators. What about the other tribes of Israel? What about the average Israelite?

Consider some of the more intimate laws, those which would have been taxing on the family unit. The Torah supposes all sorts of circumstances where one is ritually and morally impure and where that status can only be known or determined within the family unit. For instance, how many people would actually know whether or not someone had:

a bodily discharge (Lev 15)? 

sex during menstruation (Lev 18:19)? 

a strategically located leprous condition (Lev 14:1–32)? 

mold growing in a house (Lev 14:33–54)? 

To a greater or lesser degree, all of these required individuals to attend to their bodies and lives and self-report problems when discovered. This Torah instruction would have serious financial and functional ramifications for an agrarian subsistence family struggling to survive in the Central Hill Country of Judah and Israel. In other words, implicit within the Torah is an expectation that ceremonial commands are moral, demanding a sober reflection and the integrity to act upon discovery, all of which prepare the Israelite’s offering in the temple ritual.

I would suggest that the Torah is not schismatic on this front. The Torah supposes that individual Israelites have moral culpability so that such a matrix of self-diagnosing laws—which had no personal advantage to the individual—was considered a reasonable way to live in the land. If this is the case, then Israelites would have to follow such instructions about their “private” homes and bodies out of moral compunction alone. I am merely extending that ideal of Torah guidance to the rest of the torah. Hence, the way an Israelite raises crops, reaps the fields, husbands livestock, and treats others, regardless of their national status, all invisibly prepare the sacrifice to be acceptable. 

To employ an illustration I once heard from Jerry Unterman, we imagine a spouse participating in the ritualized practice of flower-giving on Valentine’s Day. However, it is not the ritual of flower-giving that makes the rite work, as it were. The behavior of the flower-giving spouse throughout the weeks and months leading up to the gift makes the ritual “work.”

But if we modify this illustration, we must imagine a spouse who steals money from her office charity fund in order to buy flowers for her husband whom she has mistreated month after month. Her malicious behavior makes it plain to us that she brings home more than the flowers in the ritualized practice. Or, from her husband’s perspective, he does not merely receive flowers.The gift of flowers has been prepared—for good or ill—by the behavior of his wife. The biography of the ritual goes back to the weeks and months prior to the rite. We do not need to grasp precisely how the preparation works, but only see that it cannot be divorced from the ritual act, and is indeed itself part of the ritual’s whole biography.

 The Prophetic and Apostolic Critique of Ethical Preparation

Given the above, we can now make more sense of the prophets’ infamous diatribes against the cleaving of ethical preparation from ritual. The divorce of sacrifice from ethical preparation is the stated grounds for its rejection across the prophetic literature, specifically concerning the poor. In other words, Israel’s preparation for sacrifice not only includes attending to the livestock, harvest, and personal/familial purity, but also attending to the structural treatment of others as a society

Isaiah opens and closes the theme of rites without ethical preparation. In the opening volley concerning Judah, he decries that Judah’s offerings are futile because Judahites “do evil” and the prophet prescribes that they “learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the orphan, defend the widow” (Isa 1:17). At the very end of Isaiah, the prophet directly identifies the personal attributes of the prepared worshiper, the one “who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isa 66:2). Isaiah begins a familiar pattern where ritual sacrifices are identified as part of the normative lives of Israel, but their sacrifices are like flowers to the mistreated husband: counterproductive. 

Jeremiah’s screeds identify Judah’s pernicious greed, from prophet to priest, and panoramic deceit as the reasons that their sacrifices were ill-prepared (Jer 6:20). Why is deceit so injurious? Of interest to us, Jeremiah cites the communal and epistemological effect, where they cannot discern peace from danger (Jer 6:14). Their inability to discern, seemingly caused by a downward spiral that begins with greed and injustice, makes their sacrifice beside the point, as it were. 

Amos’ critique of Israel cites her oppression of the poor as indicative of her waywardness (Amos 2:6–7; 4:1–5). In this indictment, we see once again that the affliction of the poor and abuse of rites makes Israel’s ritual sacrifices only worthy of Amos’ sarcastic mockery. 

Micah makes similar proclamations based on stealing property and oppression of the poor (Mic 2:1–2). In the face of being charged with oppressing the poor, Israel rhetorically asked, “With what [sacrifice] shall I come before YHWH” (Mic 6:6), Micah’s answer points directly to ethical preparation.Notably, the prophet does notusurp the Torah, as is so often supposed. Rather, he insists that their sacrifices are prepared correctly by doing justice, walking humbly, and loving kindness (Mic 6:8).          

Remarkably, these indictments of Israel and Judah supersede any notion of individual ethical performance. Instead, a presumption of a national ethical matrix of moral preparation exists in the vision of the prophets. This leads the reader to believe that Israel was always meant to enact the rites communally, preparing them together in the home, regional, and tribal ethical behavior.[19]

Overall, the pattern seems to go like this: False worship blinds Israel so that she can no longer discern YHWH’s actions from her false gods’ actions. Oppression of the periphery ensues this blindness and the prophetic critique focuses on the disparity between the sacrifice and their moral corruption. The sacrifice, as it would now appear, was meant to be ethically prepared at every layer of society—the entirety of Israel’s life.  

Jesus’ rebukes and warnings exhibit no novelty on this front. At an individual level, Jesus suspends the sacrifice on account of a fractured relationship (Matt 5:23–24). His attack on the temple money changers seemed to target those who disregard the poor coming to worship at the temple.[20]

Although we must be careful about constructing theology based on chastisement alone, Paul also famously critiques the Corinthians on their ritualized meal. Remarkably, Paul teaches that the Corinthians may eat food sacrificed to false gods on a theological technicality (1 Cor 8). However, for the sake of their community, it might be an unwise action and Paul concludes: “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat [sacrifices to idols], lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Cor 8:13). 

Nevertheless, when it pertains to the ritualized meal of Communion, Paul insists that ethical behavior apart from the meal mediates one’s participation in the meal: “But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together [for the Communion meal] it is not for the better but for the worse” (1 Cor 11:17).[21]Why is their ritual meal counterproductive? Because of the divisions and strife (1 Cor 11:18), sexual immorality (1 Cor 5:1–13), and abuse of the sacrifice (i.e., bread and wine) itself (1 Cor 11:20–22). For Paul, their ritual preparation begins in an individual ethic (i.e., sexual immorality and idol food) that extends through the community (i.e., divisions and strife). 

Finally, James the purported brother of Jesus, writes sharply in his epistle about vain religion. As long as we allow for the concept of religion to include sacrifice, we can see that James also indicts the divorce of ritual preparation from the religion: 

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unblemished from the world. (James 1:26–27)

The connection between religious behavior and ethical preparation is distinguished, once again, by the disparity. James presumes that visiting the afflicted must jibe with the ritualized practices because visiting the sick is part of the ritualized practice itself.[22]

So What?

We might be tempted to think that rituals are symbolic performances or loaded with the presence of God Himself. Surely those aren’t wrong things to consider. However, the more obvious and repeated pattern to ritual-talk in Scripture seems to focus our attention on what we are meant to understand. They are our rites to know. But like scientific experiments, which are just another form of scripted ritual, our rites must be properly prepared in order to work—to know and understand.

Seeing the “mystery of the kingdom of God” and wisely discerning the work of God on earth are entangled with caring for the vulnerable and being attentive to what we do with our houses, bodies, families, and peoples. 

Scripture doesn’t pull the punch: we will come to understand our world through our ethical behavior and our rituals. Whether they are prescribed by our culture or the prophets. The question centers on whether we will know foolishly or wisely, and whether or not we will bring a life trued to God’s instruction to the rituals of the church. 

The Rev. Dr. Johnson teaches Biblical literature, theology, and biblical interpretation at The King’s College. He is an editor for the Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism series, an associate director for the Jewish Philosophical Theology Project at The Herzl Institute in Israel; and a co-host for the OnScript Podcast. He is also the instructor for our upcoming Pentecost Term Course on a Biblical Theology of Ritual. Click HERE for registration.

[1]In my book, Biblical Knowing, I considered knowing as a process described in the Hebrew Bible, primarily in the Torah. In that work, six formative principles of knowing emerged in the Torah that persist into the New Testament. I’ll briefly recite four of them here:

  1. Knowing is a process not an event.However, discovery can appear to be an event—e.g., the man’s “at last” in discovering the woman of Eden—but appears as the fruit of a process. Like scientific understanding, biblical epistemology is extensively concerned with good process, from which, proper knowledge is the rightful yield.
  2. Knowing is social.A person’s initial attempts at knowing requires an authoritative voice—a coach who already possesses the skill of discerning. That authority is accredited to the knower through authentication, and they are both bound to each other throughout the process. The knower does not learn if the authority does not commit to the process and vice versa.
  3. Knowing is embodied. The body is not accidental to one’s knowledge, but at the very least, instrumental or the analogical basis for what is known. This includes knowing abstract constructs (e.g., the quadratic equation) and knowing persons, somewhat or intimately (e.g., “to know” sometimes means “to have sex with”).
  4. Knowledge always results from participation in the process.Error can happen by not listening to the proper authoritative guide (e.g., false prophets)[1]or by listening, but not embodying the guide’s instructions to the degree required. Either way, submitting to a process is requisite in the initial stages of knowing.

[2]        Diane Jonte-Pace, “Foreword” in Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice(New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), vii.

[3]        For a helpful summary of body talk in scholarship: Caroline Bynum, “Why All the Fuss about the Body? A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Autumn, 1995): 1-33

[4]        George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Mark Johnson, The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). For precise examples from mathematics, see: George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 353–69.

[5]        The insights of Phyllis Trible, among many others, have been particularly helpful here. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986). 

[6]        This is the topic of the introductory chapter in the collection Sacred Killing: The Archaeologyof Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East, eds. Glenn M. Schwartz and Anne Porter (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2012), 1–32. Almost all of the authors in this volume struggle to determine whether or not interred remains are instances of sacrifice. 

[7]    Anne Porter, “Mortal Mirrors: Creating Kin through Human Sacrifice in Third Millennium Syro-Mesopotamia,” in Sacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East. eds. Anne Porter and Glenn M. Schwartz (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2012), 191–216.

[8]        Jonathan Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism(New York: Oxford University Press, 2006)73.

[9]        Hosea goes further to suggest that their reaping of fruit and grain are like a “prostitute’s wages,” which would indicate that there must be some kind of Levitical discernment for the various blemishes that could stain the sacrifice, seen and unseen. Cf. Deut 23:18; Hos 1:12; 9:1.

[10]      Goslinga, “On Cakti-Filled Bodies,” in Sacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East, eds. Glenn M. Schwartz and Anne Porter (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2012), 43. It is unclear to me whether “propriation” is a typographical mistake or if Goslinga is employing a technical phrase source I could not discover.

[11]      Seen in seminal form in Hubert and Mauss’ work: “Sacrifice is a religious act that can only be carried out in a religious atmosphere and by means of essentially religious agents.But, in general, before the ceremony neither sacrifier nor sacrificer, nor place, instruments, or victim, possess this characteristic to a suitable degree. The first phase of the sacrifice is intended to impart it to them.” Hubert and Marcel Mauss, Sacrifice: Its Nature and Function. trans. W. D. Halls (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1898), 19–20.

[12]      Goslinga, “On Cakti-Filled Bodies,” 43.

[13]      Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice and the Temple, 68. 

[14]      Re Lev 22:17–30. Klawans, 63.

[15]      For example, on the issue of a burnt offering given by an impenitent Israelite, Raba says “For how is it possible? If there there is no repentance, then the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination.” This comes amid an extended discussion of how preparation of particular animals could be misappropriated for the wrong sacrifices, already evincing the idea that what happens before the animal arrives for sacrifice is of consequence.  b.Zevochim7b.

[16]      Klawans, 53–56.

[17]      Immediately ensuing, we read about not creating a financial burden of interest on loans, and a reification of the laws requiring a field’s periphery produce to be left, but from the neighbor’s perspective. 

[18]      The popular tripartite division of the law—ceremonial, civil, and moral—is an artifice for the sake of comparison and helpful at a point like this where some might want to divide them. However, the Torah makes no such distinction between different laws. 

[19]E.g., the Benjaminite predicament, Judg 20.

[20]“The money changers have their impact on the impoverished because only the poor would feel pinched by the small surcharge assessed at the temple.” Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice and the Temple, 237. 

[21]Paul has previously cited their corrupt sexual behavior (1 Cor 5:1–5), which mitigates their participation in Communion. He directly relates Communion to the Passover festival where he says, “Christ is our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor 5:6–8). 

[22]Although it might not be apparent, the reference to Christ as “a lamb without blemish (ασπιλος)” draws upon the sacrificial language used in Peter’s epistles (1 Pet 1:19). Cf. 2 Pet 3:14; 1 Tim 6:14.