OLah: The rhetoric of burnt offerings

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8 Scopus citations


The 'òlàh 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 'òlàh can be used to reconstruct ancient religious practices reliably. A comparative analysis of the rhetoric about the 'òlàh 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 effect of this rhetoric in later Jewish and Christian traditions was to separate the ideal of “sacrifice” from any necessary connection to actual animal offerings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-137
Number of pages13
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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