Gary Anderson

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Literature
Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame

Research project

Divine Presence in the Priestly Writings


Arguably, one of the most important parts of the Jewish scriptures is the story of the design, building, and dedication of the Tabernacle structure at the foot of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 25 – Leviticus 10). According to Rabbinic readers, the shape of the first two books of the Bible follows a pattern of fall and redemption. Over the course of the first eleven chapters of Genesis we witness the gradual departure of the divine presence from a special intimacy in Eden to its location in the seventh heaven after the Tower of Babel. After the calling of Abraham in Genesis 12, the divine presence begins to descend back toward the human race. When Moses receives the Torah at Mt. Sinai (Exod 19ff), something like the intimacy that Adam and Eve enjoyed in Eden can be re­experienced.


But in spite of the enormous significance of this narrative­‐complex, it has never been given the serious attention that is its due. Firstly, commentators on the book of Exodus generally tire of their work when they reach these chapters and give them scant attention whereas commentators on Leviticus have so much work in front of them that they can only allude in the briefest of terms to the Exodus material that provides the essential background to Leviticus 1­‐10. Secondly, because the material certainly came together as a result of a prolonged editorial process, many scholars spend most of their research efforts trying to break the work down into its various constitutive parts without concern for how the final form itself ought to be read.


This book will redress this problem and try to paint a picture of how the building and indwelling of the Tabernacle functioned in the final form of the Bible and how it was read by its earliest readers. It will begin with five questions: (i) the seemingly mindless repetition of the constituent parts of the Tabernacle, (ii) the correlation of tabernacle to creation, (iii) the temporal coordination of the erection of the tabernacle (Exod 40) and the consecration of the priesthood (Lev 8-­9), (iv) and the nature and function of the priestly error that takes place in Lev 10, (v) and the canonical significance of setting the story of the Golden Calf in the middle of this material. I will add a chapter (vi) on the nettlesome problem of how the Greek version of chapters 35­‐40 relates to the Massoretic version. Finally, the project will close with a chapter (vii) on the way in which the Tabernacle narrative functioned in early Christological debates and the emergence of the cult of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.




Gary Anderson is the Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, Biblical Studies/Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity at the University of Notre Dame. He holds a Ph.D in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. His research interests concern the religion and literature of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible with special interest in the reception of the Bible in early Judaism and Christianity. He is also interested in biblical narrative, canonical exegesis, biblical theology, Jewish culture and religion and Jewish-Christian relations.


Selected publications


''Through Those Who are Near to Me, I Will Show Myself Holy': Nadab and Abihu and Apophatic Theology', Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol. 77, 2015, pp. 1-19.

Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2013. 


'Life of Adam and Eve', in L. Feldman, J. Kugel & L. Schiffman (eds), Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 2013, pp. 1331-1358.

New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in Judaism of the Second Temple period and in Early Christianity, with R.A. Clements & D. Satran (eds), Brill, Leiden, 2013.

Sin: A History, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009. 



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Mathematics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Linguistics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Literature