The distinction between clean and unclean animals—probably originating in tensions between shepherds and farmers—is transformed into an important theological principle in the biblical laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. In this wide-ranging and elegantly written study, Houston argues that the avoidance of “unclean” foods is a mark of the exclusive devotion of Israel to one god. In a concluding chapter, it is suggested that the abolition of the distinction in early Christianity corresponds to the universal horizon of the new faith.
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Walter Houston is Fellow Emeritus at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, and Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester, UK. He is a contributor to the Oxford Bible Commentary and Eerdmans Bible Commentary.