The Place of Chapter 24 in the Structure of the Book of Leviticus -- By: John R. Master

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 159:636 (Oct 2002)
Article: The Place of Chapter 24 in the Structure of the Book of Leviticus
Author: John R. Master


The Place of Chapter 24
in the Structure of
the Book of Leviticus

John R. Master

John R. Master is Professor of Biblical Education, Philadelphia Biblical University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

Even a casual reading of the Book of Leviticus reveals evidence of structure in the book. The sacrifices recorded in chapters 1:1–6:7, for instance, are arranged from the most costly to the least costly. Chapters 11–15 deal with the clean and the unclean; and some have called Leviticus 17–26 the “holiness code.”

Structure Of The Book

Scholars have proposed a number of possible patterns to explain the overall structure of the book. Warning has outlined the book according to “the divine speeches.”1 Hartley argues that Leviticus is part of a larger block of material extending from Exodus 25:1 to Numbers 10:10, 2 and he views the divine speeches in Leviticus as structural indicators. He divides the book into six divisions. “The divisions are logically ordered. Each one must necessarily follow the preceding one, for material in the preceding division is critical for a proper understanding of the section at hand.”3

Douglas argues for a carefully structured literary work as well. “When the literary conventions of Leviticus are examined, we find an overarching structure that bears an extremely cerebral, closely argued theological statement based on a series of expanded analo-

gies. In this structure impurity … is clearly subordinate to the positive view of the theistic universe against which it is balanced. The central place in the teaching is given to righteousness; impurity is the foil for displaying the meaning of righteousness. More than a literary foil, it is a statement about the nature of existence in a sacramental universe, a religious ontology.”4

Problems With Leviticus 24

Throughout these attempts to account for structure, however, scholars have struggled to understand how Leviticus 24 relates to the material before and after it. In the late nineteenth century Kellogg noted the following:

It is not easy to determine with confidence the association o...

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