Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 56:1 (Spring 1994)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Philip Peter Jenson: Graded Holiness: A Key to the Priestly Conception of the World. (JSOTSup 106.) Sheffield: JSOT, 1992. 281. [L]45/$60.

This is a partially revised version of a doctoral dissertation submitted to Cambridge University in 1988. Its high quality of scholarship reflects well the tradition of that school and also of Tyndale House in Cambridge and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, all of which contributed to the author’s training and support. They, the publisher, and especially the author are to be congratulated for what this reviewer considers to be a fine contribution to the field of OT scholarship. Although there are weaknesses and significant limitations to his approach, the author openly recognizes and highlights them as he makes his own foray into the subject of the priestly theology of the Hebrew Bible. Jenson’s “vision for godly and learned scholarship” (p. 9) manifests itself throughout the volume.

The contribution of this volume is not primarily in the area of detailed exegetical work. There is very little of this in the book. Instead, Jenson’s is a welcome synthetic analysis and presentation of the priestly theology of the Pentateuch, what he calls “the Priestly conception of the world” (see the subtitle of the book, p. 19, and throughout the book). There has been a flurry of scholarly activity over the last 20 years or so in the study of the “Priestly Writing” (often referred to as P, but treated here as a type of literature defined by style and subject, not necessarily a separate “source”), especially the cultic core of P in Exodus 25–31, 35–40, Leviticus, and some parts of Numbers. Our author shows a thorough acquaintance with virtually all this relatively recent secondary literature and some of its major forerunners in the nineteenth century and earlier part of the twentieth century. He was unable to include references to Jacob Milgrom’s recent Anchor Bible commentary on Leviticus 1–16 but, of course, interacted heavily with Milgrom’s many important previous works as well as with those of M. Haran, B. Janowski, N. Kiuchi, B. A. Levine, R. Rendtorff, G. J. Wenham, and others.

Jenson’s approach is decidedly and self-consciously “structuralist.” He does not intend to deal with the kerygma or message of P in its historical context, a subject which is beset with great difficulty from a historical-critical point of view and for his purposes can be avoided. Instead, after arguing for the unity of P, he confines himself to developing “a systematic theology of the cult which starts from the final form of the text” (p. 31). He is aware of the “one-si...

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