Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Holy One of God and ritual impurity

Discovering that one's scholarly work finds use by other scholars is always gratifying, so John Poirier and I were both pleased to find mention in Matthew Thiessen's book Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels' Portrayal of Ritual Impurity (2020). At issue here, so to speak, is the healing of the woman with a flow of blood:

[T]his depiction of Jesus portrays something unexpected. Whoever Jesus is, even contact with his garment can provoke an unconscious flow of healing power from his body. Such power (dynamis) emanating or leaking out of Jesus's body through mere contact with his clothing (with, of course, the woman's trust) demonstrates that Jesus's body contains some sort of contagious holiness. Jesus is the Holy One of God. He is a force of holiness that opposes the forces of impurity. As Horace Jeffery Hodges and John Poirier observe, "The dynamism of Jesus' holiness is a closer parallel to the dynamism of the holiness present in the inner sanctuary that the high priest enters on the Day of Atonement than the holiness of the high priest himself.[Footnote 74] "Contact with Jesus's clothing is analogous to contact with a variety of holy objects within the tabernacle or temple. After all, contact with the altar or certain tabernacle furnishings or even certain offerings renders an object holy . . . Just as the tabernacle and its accoutrements exercise no will in sanctifying objects that come into contact with them, Mark portrays Jesus's body automatically and involuntarily purifying those who touch him in faith. In contrast, when Jesus presumably wants to heal others in his hometown of Nazareth, their lack of confidence constrains his power (Mark 6:1–5).

The article by Poirier and me is cited in footnote 74 ("Jesus as the Holy One of God"). I've read a lot on impurity systems and find them really fascinating. Anyone who wants to understand the New Testament needs to read some anthropological work on (im)purity systems.


At 1:23 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Mary Douglas is whispering dirty things in my ear.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What can one expect of the Bog Irish?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home