The Tabernacle: Microcosm & Macrocosm: (Part 6) Alastair Roberts


Video from The Theopolis Institute


Alastair Roberts shows how the tabernacle is a microcosm and macrocosm.


"The Importance of Ritual Spaces

Jonathan Z. Smith has written poetically about the ways in which human beings create sacred space and about the relationship between ritual and sacred places:

Ritual is, first and foremost, a mode of paying attention. It is a process for marking interest. …It is this fundamental characteristic…that explains the role of place as a fundamental component of ritual: place directs attention….[This] understanding of ritual is best illustrated by the case of built ritual environments—most especially crafted constructions such as Temples. When one enters a Temple, one enters marked-off space…in which, at least in principle, nothing is accidental; everything, at least potentially, demands attention. The Temple serves as a focusing lens, establishing the possibility of significance by directing attention, by requiring the perception of difference.[1]

Sacred spaces, Smith stresses, are built and constructed, not inherently sacred. Further, with their power to mark difference, to facilitate ritual, and ultimately to push ritualists to pay attention and become aware of the significance of the space, sacred places—whether physical or even just imagined—tend to hold deep cultural meaning.[2]

In what follows, I would like to consider what the Tabernacle, as a textually constructed sacred space, may have meant to the ancient Israelites.[3] Drawing, in particular, on the literary relationship in the text between the construction of the Tabernacle and the first creation story of the world in the beginning of Genesis, I would like to suggest that central to the conception of the Tabernacle as sacred place was a fundamental idea about order in the world." from the article: The Tabernacle, the Creation, and the Ideal of an Orderly World