James W. Watts: 0000-0002-4872-4986
Leviticus, sacrifice, offerings, rhetoric, ritual
History of Religion | Jewish Studies | Religion | Rhetoric
The ‘olah offering receives pride of place in most lists of sacrifices in the Hebrew Bible, including the ritual rules of Leviticus. Its prominence in these texts suggests that the writers expected its mention to have an effect on their audience. This rhetorical effect must be evaluated and understood before the references to the `olah can be used to reconstruct ancient religious practices reliably. A comparative analysis of the rhetoric about the `olah suggests that its priority burnished the image of priests as devoted selflessly to divine worship and drew attention away from their economic interests in the sacrificial system mandated in the Torah. The later effect of this rhetoric in Jewish and Christian tradition was to separate the ideal of “sacrifice” from any necessary connection to actual animal offerings.
James W. Watts, “ ‘Olah: The Rhetoric of Burnt Offerings,” Vetus Testamentum 66/1 (2006): 125-137.