Knowledge by Ritual
How It Connects with Hebraic Thought
In Knowledge by Ritual, Dru Johnson seeks to uncover the Hebraic understanding of knowledge by examining the nature and purpose of rituals in Scripture. Johnson argues that in the Bible, people are directed to perform rituals—from Sabbath-keeping to animal sacrifices to communion—primarily to gain knowledge. He concludes that an Hebraic, biblical epistemology regards knowledge as essentially ritualed, meaning that knowledge-acquisition is an embodied, diachronic process of relevant practice guided by skilled knowers in community.
Knowledge by Ritual explores the epistemological role of ritual in Scripture. The Hebrew Bible repeatedly presents rituals as being performed for the sake of gaining knowledge. These rituals include those of keeping the Sabbath, dwelling in Sukkah, and building stone memorials. Johnson argues that knowledge is acquired through skilled practices—rituals—guided by experts in a community. Johnson discusses biblical rituals in light of philosophical and scientific epistemology, concluding that rituals are central to the biblical view of knowledge, as well as to the scientific understanding of knowledge. According to Scripture, he says, all knowledge-acquisition resembles that of the scientific community. This book has far-reaching implications not only for epistemology, but also for ethics, sacraments, and the significance of the rituals Christians improvise and practice the world over.