Monday, May 16, 2011

"He Kept the Measurements in His Memory as a Treasure": The Role of The Tabernacle Text in Religious Experience

Here is another piece of comparative reading for you. It is called "He Kept the Measurements in His Memory as a Treasure: The Role of The Tabernacle Text in Religious Experience, by Amy H.C. Robertson

(An abstract of a dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate Division of Religion, Hebrew Bible, 2010).

This is a very good attempt to underline the importance of the Tabernacle description and its role as a religious experience.

The article is not very technical and somewhat biased, even vague. The major downside is that it fails to identify the nature and extreme importance of the religious experience that would steam from the description of the Tabernacle. However, it is most certainly worth reading and I recommend you to do so.

Here is an abstract:

"This study examines the literary idiosyncrasies of the biblical description of the tabernacle (Exod 25-31 and 35-40) using categories and insights borrowed from ritual and literary theory. It makes the case that the very features of activity that cause anthropologists to identify a particular activity as ritualized are not only present in literary form in the tabernacle text, but form the foundation of its character as literature. Building upon this observation, it considers the question of the reader experience supported by this text, ultimately making the case that the experience of an absorbed reader of this text can be fruitfully compared to the experience of an individual who participates in a ritual. Insights about the effects of specific features of ritualized activity on participants are applied, here, to the profound repetition, formalism, sensory appeal, and ambiguity in this literature. Furthermore, because the tabernacle text includes significant lacunae alongside its repetition and formalism, the experience of reading this text is ultimately compared to ritualized mandala construction, whose texts evince a similar juxtaposition of detail and gaps, and whose ritual is, primarily, imaginative. In a final chapter devoted to the communication of implicit messages through ritual, in conversation with the field of art history and religious philosophy, this study discusses several messages that are suggested by the literary form of the tabernacle text, but which are left outside the realm of discourse. The conclusion sketches the application of the methodology employed in the present study to the Temple Text."

You can download and read the entire article right here.

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