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In the WildernessThe Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers$
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Mary Douglas

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245413.001.0001

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A Priestly Hierarchy

A Priestly Hierarchy

(p.63) Chapter 3 A Priestly Hierarchy
In the Wilderness

Mary Douglas

Oxford University Press

A well-entrenched habit regards hierarchy as the natural organisational solution to adopt when a community has grown beyond a certain size. This is a mistaken idea. Scale has many influences on organisation but it does not necessarily affect cultural type. There can as well be massive enclave cultures as small hierarchies. Likewise, scale is important for many organisational questions, but not for indicating cultural bias. The heart of hierarchy is a distinctive pattern of accountability. In the old Christian usage the word meant the order of holy things, for example the episcopate or the angelic host. Hierarchy has its own recognisable and complex project of bringing space, time, and all the materials of living within the same pattern that governs the relations between persons, and making that pattern conform to the laws of the cosmos. Inevitably then it has a different pattern of responsibility than prevails in enclave culture.

Keywords:   hierarchy, scale, cultural type, enclave cultures, holy things, episcopate

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