Few Christians today linger over the ritual purity laws in the Pentateuch. This lack of familiarity with the Torah, and with how the Torah was understood in ancient Judaism, is often combined with a profound failure of historical imagination. The predictable result: major misreadings of the New Testament.
In this 28-minute video, prepared for students in my introduction to early Judaism course, I explain how Jewish systems of purity really worked 😏:
There are still plenty of mistakes in delivery, production and, no doubt, in content, but this one turned out better than most of the videos I've produced so far. (It also takes the prize for most time-consuming to prepare.) I justify its length by telling my students to watch it at 2x speed.
I should note that I make no claim to originality here. The model I present is essentially that of Jonathan Klawans with a side of E.P. Sanders.
Comments, corrections and recommendations for further reading are welcome.
A Working Bibliography
In addition to Klawans and Sanders, I found the chapter on Purity in John Meier's 4th volume as well as the recent essays by Wil Rogan and Cecilia Wassen especially helpful. It will be obvious that I am not finally persuaded by Thomas Kazen or John Poirier.