Augsburg Fortress

Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care

Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care

Maps and Meaning is rooted in the authors’ experience as clergy and chaplains and is relevant to those looking for a fresh perspective on biblical narratives related to the role of the priest, patients, soldiers, and others who spend time “outside the camp.” Drawing on diverse fields, from neuroscience to anthropology, the authors consider the geographical, interpersonal, temporal, and spiritual transitions individuals experience when they move “in” and “out of the camp” and the impact their time outside the camp has on family and community. They offer a unique perspective on self-care for caregivers of different disciplines who negotiate these transitions in their work. And they explore the lives and transitions of patients and returning veterans. 

Drawing on contemporary explorations of stigma, the authors raise communal questions related to healthcare, returning veterans, and incarcerated people. They propose a societal approach that embraces the inevitability of life’s ebbs and flow and that draws maps to facilitate these journeys.

This book is a finalist in two categories for the 2014 National Jewish Book Award, 'Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice' and 'Modern Jewish Thought and Experience'!


  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451482942
  • eBook ISBN 9781451487541
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 208
  • Publication Date August 1, 2014


1. “Alert and Oriented” in the Hebrew Bible and Contemporary Life
2. Mapping Human Communities: A Layering of Maps
3. The Levitical Priest as a Guide for the Way
4. Empathy, Overload, and the Ash Heap: The Unmoored Caregiver
5. Outside the Camp: Patients and their Loved Ones
6. The War Camp and the Returning Warrior
7. The Priest, Prophet, and Pastor in Each of Us



Foreword by Claudia Setzer

Foreword by Neil Gillman


Chapter 1


"Here is a book that is fresh, ambitious, and inviting about the book of Leviticus . . . of all things! Wiener and Hirschmann bring to this study their competence in neuroscience discussing human 'wiring' as reflective of being in or out, pure or impure, near or far; they make their case with a pastoral sensibility that focuses on the lives of real people, and they discern a genuine pastoral ministry in the tradition of Leviticus. They suggest the ways in which Leviticus is designed and functions that fit none of our caricatures of this material. Attention will be well invested in this imaginative study."
—Walter Brueggemann
Columbia Theological Seminary

"Wiener and Hirschmann's scholarly text Maps and Meaning provides a welcome addition to the literature on the complex experience of veterans returning home from war. While basic training in the Armed Forces is tightly structured and regimented, the process of coming home and re-integrating into society is one that both military and civilian structures leave largely unaddressed. The authors take seriously the spiritual and moral work required for re-entry, as well as the role that ritual plays in facilitating that process. Their expertise at mining the Hebrew Bible for guidance in this arena is both incisive and innovative and will be an invaluable resource for caregivers across disciplines."
—Mary Ragan
Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute (NYC)

"The pastoral care movement that emerged in the United States in the mid-twentieth century has always sought to explore the intersection of theology and the behavioral sciences to improve spiritual care practice, an exploration all the more necessary in this religious and culturally pluralistic age. Rabbis Jo Hirschmann and Nancy Wiener break new ground for us by exploring key elements of the biblical Torah through the lens of neuroscience to explore fresh ways of addressing the spiritual care needs of cultural outcasts. This book is a valuable resource to all who provide spiritual care or train spiritual care providers."
—Gregory A. Stoddard
ACPE Supervisor

"Rabbis Wiener and Hirschmann bring new vitality to Leviticus. They understand the ways ritual space shape human consciousness, and they appreciate how being outside the camp lives in dynamic—even healing—relationship with being inside the camp. With deep insight, they have revalued the margins making them part of the sacred center, creating more space inside the fold for all who have been marginalized."
—Mychal Springer
Jewish Theological Seminary

"Maps and Meaning is a fascinating and rich resource for chaplains, pastoral and spiritual caregivers, and spiritually-oriented health professionals who feel spiritually stretched and challenged by stepping into the existential worlds of the terminally and chronically ill in hospitals and nursing homes, and those in zones of danger and death like military zones and prisons. This book provides a complex theological and clinical approach to care—both other and self-care—that draws upon the Hebrew Bible, Jewish ritual, and the creation of sacred spaces within institutions in order to foster shalom (peace) and shleimut (wholeness) in persons, families and organizations."
—Carrie Doehring
Iliff School of Theology