Tattoos, Sexuality and Holiness

Redefining Our Standards in Light of Leviticus 18

Perhaps no image best captures the present-day abuse of Leviticus in general – and chapter 18 in particular – than the shoulder tattoo of Marcel Gemi. In still images from a 2009 television interview, Gemi’s tattoo spreads across his ample right shoulder, proclaiming Leviticus 18:22 for any who care to read it: “You shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman. It is an abomination.”[1] As the popular blog BuzzFeed was quick to point out, Gemi apparently was unaware of Leviticus 19:28: “You shall not … print any marks upon you.”[2]

And so it goes. Leviticus 18 and its companion, chapter 20, have been subsumed into a 20th, and now 21st, century culture war primarily over the legality and morality of homosexuality. The debates then consume ever-larger portions of the surrounding texts to buttress the cases of the various positions in the debate – easily dismissed prohibitions against sex with a menstruating woman[3] countered by more alarming concerns about incest and child sacrifice.[4] Leviticus 18 even has its own Facebook page.[5]

Such superficial debates do a disservice to the text of the Holiness Code. It was not intended to be a strictly literal series of legal norms, and those who rip its verses from their ancient Near Eastern context miss its message. Its metaphoric image of complete purity calls us to emulate God’s holiness in the whole of life. Only when we grasp what Leviticus 18 can teach each of us can we understand what it might say to others – one could say we should tattoo its lessons on our hearts before tattooing its words on our arms.

I.               Context

Leviticus 18 stands near the beginning of the larger Holiness Code of Leviticus 17-26. Scholars seem generally to agree that the Holiness Code is a complete work – the author or editor often is dubbed “H” – grafted into the larger framework of Leviticus, and that the code itself is cobbled from building blocks of older material. Nevertheless, the specific history is lost, and scholarship is “pessimistic” it can be recovered.[6]

Chapter 18 itself, however, carries unique characteristics. Seventeen of its 18 commands explicitly prohibit some kind of sexual activity – child sacrifice the lone exception. Even Chapter 20, which parallels 18 in several respects, devotes six verses to non-sexual prohibitions. The New Interpreter’s Bible calls Leviticus 18 “one of the most systematic and complete collections of laws in the Torah on the subject of incest and forbidden sexual unions,”[7] and Carmichael, citing the prevalence of centuries-old prohibitions against incest and homosexuality, argues the chapter has had a “greater effect on Western law than any comparable body of biblical rules.”[8]

One of the most striking features of Leviticus 18 is its similarity to Chapter 20, which adds punishments to many of the former’s prohibitions. Meanwhile, the chapter they frame is broader; 19:18 in particular was cited by Jesus as one of two summations of “the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:36-40).[9] The opening of Leviticus 18 shares a number of similarities to the close of Leviticus 20, adding to the argument for reading these three chapters as a unit.[10]

This framing device indicates the prohibitions of Leviticus 18 should not be read apart from their context, which itself suggests a nonliteral interpretation. Douglas argues the frame is designed “to show up the concepts of righteousness, liberty and justice which [the text] expounds in the middle.” In fact, Douglas argues the formality of the structure recasts the sexual prohibitions as “inescapably cultic” in nature, reflecting a concern about idolatry-based impurity.[11]

II.             Internal framing

Chapter 18 itself also features a frame, as verses 1-5 and 24-30 bracket a series of prohibitions against incest, homosexual behavior, bestiality, adultery and child sacrifice.[12] This frame begins a refrain in which Yahweh repeatedly tells the Israelites, “I am the Lord your God” – 25 times in Leviticus 18-20, including six times in this chapter.[13] The repetition of Yahweh’s self-identification “reinforces … the relationship between God and Israel in distinction from other gods and other nations.”[14]

Indeed, the first four and final seven verses emphasize Israel’s separation from its pagan neighbors, specifically Egypt and Canaan. The text, however, seems unconcerned with historical fact despite its description of historically verifiable nations. First, Yahweh is described as having removed Canaan from the land,[15] which ostensibly has not happened yet, and second, there is no historical evidence to indicate Egypt or the tribes of Canaan were more immoral than Israel. Grabbe calls such a description “a fiction,”[16] while Milgrom agrees and notes its usefulness as a method of stigmatization.[17] Regardless, the message of separation is clear, even if its literalism is questionable. A trait of holiness we can extract from this analysis, then, is that of distinction or separation.

While the opening frame focuses on the distinction of holiness, the closing frame seems to emphasize its purity. The Hebrew word for “unclean” appears six times in these final seven verses, and, as Hildenbrand notes, the people can transfer uncleanness to the land, causing them to lose it. Seeing a loose covenant-treaty form to the chapter, Hildenbrand interprets this as the enforcement mechanism: If or when the Israelites defile the land, God has a removal process to reclaim it.[18]

The frame, therefore, provides some contours for the discussion contained within. As befitting a chapter of the Holiness Code, the focus is on holiness, not simply morality or judgment. It indicates that to be holy is to be separate and pure. Holiness does not necessarily look like the surrounding culture, and it produces, as verse 5 argues, life – perhaps eternal, abundant or both. However, the interior of Leviticus 18 is more nettlesome. A detailed look at some problems raised by a moral-literal reading of the middle 18 verses will follow this more basic overview:

III.           Incest

Verses 6-18 contain the more straightforward prohibitions against incest. Starting with a general statement against approaching “any blood relative for sexual contact” (18:6), they, in order, prohibit the Ego from having sex with his mother (verse 7), stepmother (8), sister or half-sister (9), granddaughter (10), stepsister (11), paternal aunt (12), maternal aunt (13), paternal aunt by marriage (father’s sister-in-law) (14), daughter-in-law (15), sister-in-law (brother’s wife) (16) and a woman and her daughter or grandchild(17). Verse 18 includes a prohibition against marrying two sisters simultaneously.

Many scholars appear to seek a certain logic behind these laws, and they make some compelling points. Schenker argues these relationships are incompatible with marriage – and therefore damaging to the clan structure of Israelite society at the time.[19] Similarly, McClenney-Sadler sees a hierarchy in the ordering of the laws, beginning with the person “Ego is most duty-bound to protect,”[20] and Dearman says “all the forbidden sexual relations” in this chapter “are antithetical to the survival, purpose and function of the family.”[21]

Feminist criticism in particular, however, seems prone to question the presumed pro-family nature of these verses. Wegner, as cited by Ellens, argues the incest prohibitions are designed to protect property, not people.[22] Melcher also sees a distinctly patriarchal bent, equating women to “a whole collection of valuables” protected in the chapter:

Nowhere in these laws is a woman or group of women addressed directly. Generally speaking, the woman is represented as the passive recipient of the man’s “seed.” She is most often specified as the inappropriate partner for sexual intercourse. … Since women are discussed in the third person rather than addressed directly in the second person, one gains the impression that the “sons of Israel” have jurisdiction over proper sexual conduct for females.[23]

Melcher interprets the phrase most often translated, “It is your father’s (brother’s, mother’s, etc.) nakedness” as, “It is your father’s sexual function” and argues it shows clearly a cultural view of men’s authority over women’s sexuality. This still brings her to a similar conclusion: That family concerns – what she describes as “patrilineal descent“ – were of paramount importance.[24]

Though I’ve chosen to group 6-18 under the “incest” category, this is by no means the consensus. Verses 7-16 cling together most tightly, sharing a nearly identical literary structure – “You must not have sexual contact with your [relative’s] [relation]; it is your [relative]‘s nakedness” or “with your [relative]; she is your [relation].” Verse 6 acts as something of an introduction, or as Mohrmann describes it, a “general prohibition” that 7-16 define with specifics.[25] Verse 17 adds a twist, prohibiting relations with a stepdaughter or step-granddaughter because they are the blood relatives of the wife, not the Ego. Likewise, the text adds the word “shameful,” which presages the strong denunciations to come. Mohrmann argues that verse 17 is a transition to the rest of the chapter – from looking narrowly at immediate family concerns to focusing on “the larger society.”[26]

Therefore, verse 18, which prohibits marrying a woman and her sister “as a rival” and having sex with the sister while the first wife is alive, has begun to focus on broader matters. It shares much in common with the verses immediately after, not least of which is confusion about its intent. There is no other scriptural precedent for this prohibition,[27] which leads Tosato to argue it is a late addition referring to polygamy and divorce.[28] Still, it includes a restriction on familial relations, so I’ve chosen to include it with the more clearly grouped incest prohibitions preceding it.

IV.           Grab bag

The chapter moves to five non-incestual prohibitions, of which four remain clearly sexual – sex with a menstruating woman (19), adultery (20), sacrificing children to Molech (21), sex with a man (22) and sex with an animal (23). Schenker argues the five are tied by the man’s loss of “procreative capacity,”[29] though this does not account for the inclusion of women in the condemnation of bestiality – nor particularly well for the prohibition against sex with a woman on her period.  Indeed, Olyan argues further by noting there are numerous sexual acts that waste “seed” yet on which the text remains silent,[30] and the passage itself cites impurity as the reason for abstaining during a woman’s period – which Hildenbrand calls “unexpected.”[31]

The meaning of these prohibitions – indeed, the very decision to include them and not others – remains a subject of dispute, as described below.  Further, as Mohrmann notes, they tend to frustrate rather than illuminate the general guidance found in the chapter’s frame. “Its generalization seems fitting neither to the narrowness of the sexual laws nor their peculiar mixture.” A narrative frame surrounds a proscriptive list. Further, as noted above, verses 1-5 encourage distinction, yet most of the subsequent laws were “not peculiarly Israelite.”[32] This is the first of several major problems encountered in attempting a moral-literal reading of Leviticus 18.

V.             Problems

Vv. 6-18: Many scholars attempting an analysis of this passage struggle with the question of missing relationships. Despite specifying 11 cases in which sex is forbidden, nowhere is the male explicitly prohibited from committing incest with his daughter. Mohrmann calls this omission “especially problematic.”[33] Meanwhile, Carmichael argues the prohibition against sex with one’s mother is “so taboo,” its presence shouldn’t even be necessary. “By and large, lawgivers addressing societal problems are not motivated to set down in writing what no one questions.” Further, the prohibition is worded such that the child is the aggressor needing to be restricted, which Carmichael posits is highly unusual in every culture.

The concern with a child who initiates an incestuous liaison and the lack of any rule about more commonly occurring liaisons within a family suggest that the usual attempt to read these rules against the social practice of ancient Israel is the wrong approach to understanding them.[34]

Still, many scholars attempt this very thing, and a number of theories have been put forward to explain the “missing” prohibition against sex with one’s daughter. McClenney-Sadler argues verse 17’s prohibition against sexual contact with a woman and her daughter covers this relationship because “it is impossible for the father to [have sex with] his biological daughter without transgressing this prohibition.”[35] But the passage would fail to prohibit a man from taking advantage of his daughter in the event of the wife’s death, and it’s written such that it could be referring merely to a stepchild. Hildenbrand and Milgrom, citing Rattray, argue the general prohibition in verse 6 covers the father-daughter relationship with the subsequent list being a series of more specific examples.[36] [37] But this simply raises more questions; was the Israelite, or even the Canaanite or Egyptian, culture such that sleeping with one’s daughter was obviously taboo but sex with one’s mother was not? Mohrmann argues the prohibition is stated implicitly in verse 7, but he doesn’t seem particularly interested in defending the notion.[38]

Nihan opts for arguably the simplest explanation: The law considers the daughter – and her sexuality – to be the property of her father until she is married. “The father’s absolute jurisdiction over his own daughter was an evidence which could not be questioned.”[39] Similarly, Ellens also appeals to patriarchal sensibilities, arguing the absence of father-daughter and uncle-niece prohibitions betrays “gender asymmetry” and reflects Israel’s male-dominated clan culture. She also cites verse 22’s limited prohibition of male-on-male sex as an example.[40]

Vv. 19-23: If the incest laws are perplexing, they seem straightforward compared with the aforementioned “grab bag” of prohibitions in verses 19-23. The admonition against sex with a menstruating woman is so strange, the New Interpreter’s Bible simply ignores it.[41] Milgrom suggests the combination of 18:19 and 20:18, which adds the punishment of exile for both parties, strengthen the previous prohibition against this activity in 15:24 by moving it from the realm of purity to that of morality.[42] But that assumes Leviticus 18 itself has left the realm of purity, which is certainly disputed. In fact, Mohrmann argues just the opposite, tying verse 19 with the incest passages by describing it as a law against “interrupt[ing] ritual purity,” and that it and the law against adultery in verse 20 “come from an understanding that societal cohesion was at risk.”[43]

Likewise, the seemingly non-sexual restriction against child sacrifice has led to a multitude of interpretations. Milgrom tentatively sees a coded law against intermarrying with the neighboring pagans,[44] while Hildenbrand argues idolatry is “the equivalent of prostitution.”[45] Neither of these explains the specificity of child sacrifice, however. Mohrmann finds a link through the termination of “the fruit of legitimate sexual activity,” thus “weaken[ing] the nation’s future.”[46]

Verse 22, arguably the most famous of all these laws,[47] condemns only anal sex between men,[48] which is extremely specific in both gender and practice. New Interpreter’s glosses over this and states unequivocally, “There can be no doubt about this text’s position on the matter,” and even elides that it could be applicable today because of its place in the Holiness Code.[49]

On the other end of the ideological spectrum, Olyan notes the 18:22 prohibition and its companion in 20:13 are the only references to homosexual activity in the law, rare among this chapter’s admonitions, which generally are reiterated multiple times outside of the Holiness Code. Olyan argues the prohibition therefore stemmed strictly from purity, not moral, concerns, particularly with the mixing of fluids, which also would explain verse 19.  He not only rejects the notion that the Israelites “abhor[red] male couplings,” but argues “other sexual acts between men, in contrast to intercourse, are unthreatening to the purity of the land because they do not involve the mixing of two otherwise defiling emissions in the body of the receptive partner.”[50]

Perhaps alone among all of these prohibitions, the restrictions on adultery and bestiality do not elicit much controversy, as they are repeated elsewhere in the law and the immorality and impurity of the actions they condemn seems clear enough.[51]

Needless to say, all of this creates quite the mess for those seeking contemporary application of this chapter. From this analysis, I find three convincingly difficult dilemmas posed by a moral-literal reading of the text:

  1. Its proscriptive center does not match its narrative frame.
  2. The prohibited incestuous relationships contain gaps and inconsistencies.
  3. The “grab bag” prohibitions against sex during menstruation, child sacrifice, homosexuality and bestiality are difficult to reconcile – either because of extreme specificity or a lack of consistency with the rest of the chapter.

Yet there is a way through those issues, one in which these laws provide not a moral framework requiring strict literal adherence but rather a narrative framework through which to view God’s call for holiness in our own lives.

VI.           Conclusion

An understanding of Leviticus 18 in its context can help us grasp a practical idea of holiness. I argue we must look at the culture in which the passage was written, and how its meaning changes as the culture does. Seow assumes the point: “It hardly needs to be said that all the notions of purity and holiness in the Levitical code are culturally conditioned. … The more difficult and important question is the proper application of these provisions in our own context.” [52]

As Seow notes, Jesus himself cited Old Testament texts to rework traditional interpretations of the law. His use of David’s entry into the temple in seeming violation of the law’s literal words showed that “human needs provided the hermeneutical key for understanding the legal tradition.” Likewise, God himself in the vision of Acts 10:28 redefined Peter’s notions of biblical purity: “God has shown me that I should not call any person impure or unclean.” Seow argues “the gospel permits – nay, impels – us to come to the laws with new insights.”[53] If, as Olyan argues, purity is the overriding factor in such laws as the one barring homosexuality, these new insights could lead to a reworking of the meaning traditionally derived from Leviticus 18.

Indeed, Bauckham also rejects a literal step-by-step following of the law, the purpose of which he describes as “to inculcate general principles and values.” Speaking specifically of the political application of this text, Bauckham opposes its use as the basis for judicial law. “Rather its purpose is to educate the people of God in the will of God for the whole of their life as his people.” The mixing of cultic, personal and social morality indicates “the overriding concern is with obedience to God in the whole of life.”[54] Practically, this must be the case if the Leviticus 18 laws are a “theoretical construct” that did not reflect the current practices of either Israel or her neighbors.[55]

These prohibitions, therefore, discuss sexual boundaries as a way of defining the need for purity in all areas of our lives. Mohrmann, using Douglas as his basis, argues the Holiness Code focuses so much on sex and food because those two items relate most intimately to the boundaries of the human body. “Sex, like eating, deals with the entries and exits of bodily boundaries and as such becomes another, apt analogy for social, cultural and theological intercourse.”[56] Setting boundaries in this area means setting boundaries in all areas of one’s life; thus the laws are indeed narrative in scope – “H” uses literary devices to illustrate the importance of maintaining holiness and relationship with God.

But what is holiness? The passage indicates it is more than simply boundary-keeping. “H” does not use holiness in a narrow priestly sense; he uses it in an all-encompassing way, implying “total relation to the deity that … engages the people in their everyday lives.”[57] As 18:5 makes clear, holiness leads to life, though the literal text defines “life” “more by what it is not than what it is. … Living in Lev. 18:5 was first and foremost national life within the confines of its distinctive (holy) calling by God in relationship to its national neighbors.”[58]

This corporate instruction then becomes a personal call through the work of Christ. In the New Testament, Paul “displaces the theme of separation and holiness … with faith and righteousness as the defining attributes of God’s people.”[59] Indeed, though scholars disagree over Paul’s precise attitude toward the “life” language of 18:5, he “clearly believed in the necessity of obedience for final salvation … shaped and generated by Christ and the indwelling Spirit.”[60] The use of 18:5’s language from Leviticus through Ezekiel, culminating with Paul’s discourses in Romans and Galatians, shows the movement of holiness from conditional – based on obedience to the law –to unconditional – based on God’s grace. In Ezekiel, “the conditional nature of Lev. 18:5 … is thus replaced by divine intervention.”[61] Such reinterpretation and reuse of the Holiness Code is appropriate and expected, Mohrmann argues. “Should we not expect that each generation and author would fill these basic words according to their present customs and needs?”[62]

This continuous movement of scripture should be reflected today. “The Old Testament law, in envisaging a political society living out the holiness of a people dedicated to God, points towards the eschatological Kingdom, when such a society will be universally realized.”[63] The narrative arc of Leviticus 18, therefore, shifts as Christians continually strive to emulate the kingdom of God.  By using sexuality “as a metaphor for life,”[64] the passage calls its readers to examine our own practices and examples – not on the basis of adhering to an ancient Near Eastern law code, but in how we interact with the culture around us as receivers of the love and grace of God in Christ. “To do the law means to believe in Christ, or, if we may introduce a slight modification, it means to understand the law as a testimony to Christ.”[65]

In other words, living out Leviticus 18 means far more than tattooing its literal words on our shoulders. It means redefining our standards in the light of the distinct, pure, revolutionizing holiness of God, which touches all aspects of our life, including, but not only, our sexuality.


[1] Julie Bolcer, “Hate Crime Suspect’s Bud: Blame the Victim,” Advocate, October 16, 2009. http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2009/10/16/Hate_Crime_Suspects_Friend_Blames_Victim/ (accessed November 29, 2011).

[2] Matt Stopera, “Man Tattoos Leviticus 18:22 That Forbids Homosexuality On His Arm, but Leviticus 19:28 Forbids Tattoos,” BuzzFeed, entry posted February 2011, http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/man-tattoos-leviticus-1822-that-forbids-homosexua (accessed November 29, 2011).

[3] Barbara Mikkelson, “Letter to Dr. Laura,” Snopes, entry posted September 5, 2007, http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/drlaura.asp (accessed November 29, 2011).

[4] Ron Belgau, “Context of Leviticus 18:13 and 20:22,” City of God, entry posted 2003, http://www.cityofgod.net/essay/ron_onleviticus.htm (accessed November 29, 2011).

[5] “Leviticus 18,” Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leviticus-18/143681112311358 (accessed November 29, 2011). Only 12 people “Like” the page, however, which is perhaps a positive sign.

[6] J. Joosten, People and Land in the Holiness Code: An Exegetical Study of the Ideational Framework of the Law in Leviticus 17-26 (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 5-16 contains a thorough summary of Holiness Code research from Klostermann (1877) to the present.

[7] Walter Brueggemann, Terence Fretheim, Walter Kaiser and Leander Keck, The New Interpreter’s Bible: General Articles & Introduction, Commentary, & Reflections For Each Book of the Bible, Including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1994), Volume I, 1124.

[8] Calum M. Carmichael, Law, Legend, and Incest in the Bible: Leviticus 18-20 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ, 1997), 1.

[9] All biblical passages from this point forward are from the Common English Bible.

[10] Doug Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex: A Study of Leviticus 18,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 29, no. 1 (2004): 57-79.

[11] Mary Douglas, Leviticus As Literature (Oxford: Oxford, USA, 2001), 236-38.

[12] Michael Hildenbrand, Structure and Theology in the Holiness Code (North Richland Hills, Tex.: BIBAL, 2004), 87.

[13] According to my count, though it varies slightly depending on who is counting and what version or translation is used. I also include an occurrence of the phrase, “I, the Lord your God, …”.

[14] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 63.

[15] Verse 28: The land “vomited out the nations that were before you.”

[16] Lester L. Grabbe, Leviticus (Old Testament Guides) (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1993), 79.

[17] Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 17-22: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Anchor Bible, 2000), 1520.

[18] Hildenbrand, Structure and Theology in the Holiness Code, 110.

[19] Adrian Schenker, “What Connects the Incest Prohibitions with the Other Prohibitions Listed in Leviticus 18 and 20?” in The Book of Leviticus: Composition and Reception, eds. Rolf Rendtorff and Robert Kugler (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 166.

[20] Madeline Gay McClenney-Sadler, Recovering the Daughter’s Nakedness: A Formal Analysis of Israelite Kinship Terminology and the Internal Logic of Leviticus 18 (New York: T&T Clark, 2007), 106.

[21] Andrew Dearman, “Marriage in the Old Testament” in Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality, ed. Robert Brawley (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 166.

[22] Deborah Ellens, Women in the Sex Texts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy: A Comparative Conceptual Analysis (New York: T&T Clark, 2008), 73. She disagrees with Wegner, however, and prefers Douglas’ emphasis on separation.

[23] Sarah Melcher, “The Holiness Code and Human Sexuality,” in Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality, 92.

[24] Ibid., 94, 99.

[25] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 68-69.

[26] Ibid., 70.

[27] Hildenbrand, Structure and Theology in the Holiness Code, 103.

[28] Angelo Tosato, “The Law of Leviticus 18:18: A Reexamination,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 46, no. 2 (April 1984): 214.

[29] Schenker, “What Connects the Incest Prohibitions …?” in The Book of Leviticus, 168.

[30] Saul Oryan, “‘And with a Male You Shall Not Lie the Lying Down of a Woman’: On the Meaning and Significance of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 5, no. 2 (October 1994): 179-206.

[31] Hildenbrand, Structure and Theology in the Holiness Code, 104.

[32] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 58.

[33] Ibid., 70.

[34] Carmichael, Law, Legend, and Incest, 6-7.

[35] McClenney-Sadler, Recovering the Daughter’s Nakedness, 108.

[36] Hildenbrand, Structure and Theology in the Holiness Code, 93.

[37] Milgrom, Leviticus 17-22, 1527.

[38] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 70-71. After saying it’s “especially problematic,” Mohrmann uses all of two sentences to discuss the issue, adding: “The discussion will return to the other gaps.”

[39] Christophe Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch: A Study in the Composition of the Book of Leviticus (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), 434.

[40] Ellens, Women in the Sex Texts, 75-77

[41] Breugemann, et al., New Interpreter’s Bible, 1126. Under the “18:6-20” heading, the page’s second full paragraph discusses the possible meaning of verse 18. The first sentence of the immediately following paragraph begins, “Adultery is considered in v. 20.”

[42] Milgrom, Leviticus 17-22, 1550.

[43] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 71.

[44] Ibid., 1553.

[45] Hildenbrand, Structure and Theology in the Holiness Code, 105.

[46] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 72.

[47] It’s probably the only one with its own tattoo.

[48] Olyan, “And with a Male,” 202.

[49] Breugemann, at al., New Interpreter’s Bible, 1127.

[50] Olyan, “And with a Male,” 181-82, 205-06.

[51] Breugemann, et al., New Interpreter’s Bible, 1126-27.

[52] Choon-Leong Seow, “Textual Orientation,” in Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality, 18.

[53] Ibid., 20-21.

[54] Richard Bauckham, The Bible in Politics: How to Read the Bible Politically, 2nd ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2011), 24-26.

[55] Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch, 443.

[56] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 66. Emphasis in original.

[57] Bryan D. Bibb, Ritual Words and Narrative Worlds in the Book of Leviticus (London: T&T Clark Int’l, 2009), page nr.

[58] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 78.

[59] Doug Mohrmann, “Of ‘Doing’ and ‘Living’: The Intertextual Semantics of Leviticus 18:5 in Galatians and Romans,” in Jesus and Paul: Global Perspectives in Honor of James D.G. Dunn For His 70th Birthday, ed. B.J. Oropeza, C.K. Robertson and Doug Mohrmann (New York: T&T Clark, 2010), 171.

[60] Preston Sprinkle, Law and Life: The Interpretation of Leviticus 18:5 in Early Judaism and in Paul (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 202.

[61] Preston Sprinkle, “Law and Life: Leviticus 18:5 in the Literary Framework of Ezekiel,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31, no. 3 (2007): 293.

[62] Mohrmann, “Of ‘Doing’ and ‘Living’” in Jesus and Paul, 172.

[63] Bauckham, The Bible in Politics, 29.

[64] Mohrmann, “Making Sense of Sex,” 79.

[65] Friedrich Avemarie, “Paul and the Claim of the Law According to the Scripture: Leviticus 18:5 in Galatians 3:12 and Romans 10:5,” in The Beginnings of Christianity: A Collection of Articles, ed. Jack Pastor and Menachem Mor (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi, 2005), 142.

One comment on “Tattoos, Sexuality and Holiness

  1. J. Palmer says:

    “…tattoo its lessons on our hearts before tattooing its words on our arms.”

    Wise words.

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