Abstract

Too often in Christian circles, Levitical law is sidelined or ignored, with little attention given to the particular laws and rituals. In this article, it is argued that Leviticus is central to our proper understanding of God’s identity, particularly as displayed in the Gospel narratives. To achieve this understanding, the article proposes utilizing the epistemological framework of Michael Polanyi, whose work on knowing through participation is particularly apt for the ritual focus of Leviticus. To demonstrate the suitability of this hermeneutic, the basic tenets of Polanyi’s program are explained before applying it to the restrictions on menstruating women in Lev 15. Polanyi’s system suggests that discoveries expand upon existing knowledge and frameworks for seeing the world. With this in mind, the analysis of knowing God through Lev 15 is compared to Mark’s account of the hemorrhaging woman in Mark 5. It becomes clear that Levitical restrictions prepare both the hemorrhaging woman and the surrounding crowd to recognize Christ’s divine identity through the miracle of healing and removal of social and ritual isolation in the woman’s life. Thus, the law provides an initial framework for knowing God, which Christ eventually broadens by demonstrating God’s complete triumph over death. Finally, the article argues that participating in the rituals and overarching framework of Levitical law enables Israel to know God and provides a similar opportunity to readers of the text. Readers may participate, albeit at a distance, so they, too, may be formed to recognize God in Christ.

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