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39 2 The Movement of the Body Is a Voice of the Soul Body and Character in Early Jewish and Christian Literature Early Jewish and Christian writings demonstrate awareness—but not uncritical acceptance—of physiognomic ideas. We turn now to the evidence. Jewish Literature Physiognomy is not a dominant theme in ancient Judaism,but one does see an interest in how inner qualities are reflected in outer characteristics, beginning with the scriptures of Israel.Several examples are found in the Deuteronomistic History,the authors of which had presumably ingested some physiognomic theories of Babylonian origin. Scriptures of Israel Saul is described as “a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and . See F. R. Kraus, Die physiognomischen Omina der Babylonier (Gräfenhainichen: C. Schulze, 1935) and Texte zur babylonischen Physiognomatik, Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 3 (Berlin, 1939). Parsons_LukeActs_JDE_djm.indd 39 9/15/06 1:27:23 PM 40 Body and Character in Luke and Acts shoulders above everyone else”(1 Sam. 9:2; cf. 10:23b). One thinks also of David who “was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome” (1 Sam. 16:12). About Absalom the narrator writes, “Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him” (2 Sam. 14:25). In addition to these examples taken from Hebrew narrative,the priestly restrictions regarding the temple cult also lend themselves to physiognomic interpretation.The need for unblemished sacrifices is well known. Consider the following example: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them: When anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing in Israel presents an offering, whether in payment of a vow or as a freewill offering that is offered to the Lord as a burnt offering, to be acceptable in your behalf it shall be a male without blemish, of the cattle or the sheep or the goats. You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable in your behalf. When anyone offers a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord, in fulfillment of a vow or as a freewill offering, from the herd or from the flock, to be acceptable it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. Anything blind, or injured, or maimed, or having a discharge or an itch or scabs—these you shall not offer to the Lord or put any of them on the altar as offerings by fire to the Lord. An ox or a lamb that has a limb too long or too short you may present for a freewill offering; but it will not be accepted for a vow. Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the Lord; such you shall not do within your land, nor shall you accept any such animals from a foreigner to offer as food to your God; since they are mutilated, with a blemish in them, they shall not be accepted in your behalf. (Lev. 22:17–25) Considerations of unblemished bodies extended from the sacrifice to the one offering the sacrifice. It is required that “priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies”(Lev. 21:5).The following is particularly noteworthy: . Jacob Milgrom,Leviticus 17–22:A NewTranslation with Introduction and Commentary,AB 3A (New York: Doubleday,2000),1875–82,notes that the blemishes of sacrificial animals correspond roughly with those listed for priests. He concludes, “mutatis mutandis, the same blemishes that invalidate officiating priests also invalidate animal sacrifices” (p. 1877). Parsons_LukeActs_JDE_djm.indd 40 9/15/06 1:27:23 PM 41 The Movement of the Body Is a Voice of the Soul For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, one who is blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or one who has a broken foot or a broken hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a blemish in his eyes or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781602584433
Related ISBN
9781602583801
MARC Record
OCLC
769189752
Pages
192
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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