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xi + 212 pp.

£50 / $85 / €75
List Price

£16.50 / $22.50 / €18.50

Sin, Impurity, Sacrifice, Atonement
The Priestly Conceptions
Jay Sklar

The goal of this closely reasoned study is to explain why, in Priestly texts of the Hebrew Bible, the verb kipper, traditionally translated ‘atone’, means the way of dealing both with sin and with impurity—which might seem very different things.

Sklar’s first key conclusion is that when the context is sin, certain sins also pollute; so ‘atonement’ may include some element of purification. His second conclusion is that, when the context is impurity, and kipper means not ‘atone’ but ‘effect purgation’, impurity also endangers; so kipper can include some element of ransoming.

In fact, sin and impurity, while distinct categories in themselves, have this in common: each of them requires both ransoming and purification. It is for this reason that kipper can be used in both settings.

This benchmark study concludes with a careful examination of the famous sentence of Leviticus 17.11 that ‘blood makes atonement’ (kipper) and explains how, in the Priestly ideology, blood sacrifice was able to accomplish both ransom and purification.

Jay Sklar is Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, St Louis.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 2
978-1-905048-12-0 hardback / 978-1-909697-88-1 paperback
Publication November 2005

Sklar’s careful contribution has underlined the growing realization that the Israelite cultic system was not of a random nature and was comprised of many individual strands and often-conflicting sources, but that one can note a coherent total that linked purity concerns with legal elements. Sin was not just a trifle or a personal problem, but affected the individual, the total community, and the physical environment of the Israelites. Gerald A. Klingbeil, Andrews University Seminary Studies

Sklar's presentation … is clear, precise, and concise, serving as an effective vehicle for unfolding his tight reasoning concerning a complex topic… Although Sklar's study is focused on a narrow question (Why does kipper occur in contexts of sin and impurity?), the answer he provides has far-reaching implications for the conceptual cohesion of the Israelite expiatory system and its theological meaning by demonstrating that the legal and purity spheres come together in one word. Henceforth, any serious study of Israelite cult or atonement must take Sklar's work into account. Roy Gane, Review of Biblical Literature

[A] benchmark study full of detailed exegetical observations … will be important for all exegetical studies that want to shed light on the concepts of ancient Israelite priestly theology. Reinhard Achenbach, Review of Biblical Literature

The book’s organization facilitates the clarity of its presentation and argumentation and makes it a valuable resource in any study on sin, forgiveness, and atonement. Mignon R. Jacobs, Religious Studies Review

The book is an eminently worthwhile read. Dale Patrick, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

Sklar has written a superb monograph that evidences careful scholarly research. Mark J. Boda and Benjamin J. Baxter, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society