Isabel Cranz

Atonement and Purification

Priestly and Assyro-Babylonian Perspectives on Sin and its Consequences

[Sühne und rituelle Reinigung. Priesterliche und assyrisch-babylonische Perspektiven auf Sünde und deren Konsequenzen.]

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Published in English.
In this work, Isabel Cranz compares the consequences of sinful behaviour as illustrated in Priestly Writings of the Bible and the ancient Near East. This comparison demonstrates that Priestly ideas about expiation do not challenge ancient Near Eastern conceptualization of sin and its consequences.
Biblical scholars frequently attempt to contextualize the Priestly ritual corpus by comparing it to other ancient Near Eastern ritual traditions. This comparative approach tends to detect a hidden polemic at work in the Priestly Source (P) which was meant to highlight its distinctly monotheistic outlook. Isabel Cranz reframes current understandings of P by comparing Priestly rituals of atonement to their Assyro-Babylonian counterparts. In this way she shows how the Priestly ritual corpus is highly specialized and concerns itself primarily with sanctuary maintenance. Viewing P in this new light in turn helps to demonstrate that the authors of P were not interested in discrediting foreign rituals or pushing a monotheistic agenda. Instead P primarily aimed to confirm the Aaronide priests as the only legitimate priestly group fit for service at the altar. Subsequently if a polemical agenda is present in P it can be shown to be directed against rivals and critics of the Aaronide priesthood, not other rituals of the ancient Near East.

Isabel Cranz Born 1980; 2006 MA from Hebrew University (Rothberg); 2012 PhD from the Johns Hopkins University; since 2014 Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Pennsylvania.


The following reviews are known:

In: Journal for the Study of the OT — 42.5 (2018) (Dwight D. Swanson)
In: Zeitschr. f. d. Alttestamentl. Wissenschaft — 2018, S. 475–476 (R.A.)
In: Themelios — 44 (2019), S. 131–133 (Greg Church)