Leviticus, Deconstruction and the Body
AbstractThis paper is a contribution to a discussion of feminism, deconstruction and embodiment at the Canadian Society for Biblical Studies Meeting in June, 1999. I briefly align and contrast deconstruction, as a practice of resistance to totalizing discourses, with feminism, as a practice of resistance to totalizing hierarchies. I then engage with three student responses to a course I taught on Leviticus, as part of the dialogic of biblical studies (and certainly deconstructive/feminist ones). In one, I discuss Leviticus as pornography, in the context of the nexus between prohibition and desire, and pay especial attention to the points where Leviticus changes subject position. A second concerns land, imagined in anticipation and retrospectively from exile, as the object of memory and frustration, and speculates on the sexual imagery of sacrifice. A third turns to narrative in Leviticus, in particular that of 24.10-23, as potentially destructive of the whole rhetorical enterprise of the book, which posits a static society. In my conclusion, I express distrust of pure deconstructive or feminist programs, and turn to the paradox that Leviticus is both a text preeminently about the body, and profoundly phallocentric.