Notes from Temple Studies Symposium V: The Temple Hidden in the Bible

The following are my notes from the recent Temple Studies Symposium, held July 2, 2011 at the Temple Church, London.  As always, the event was a great success with many important insights imparted.  It was a pleasure to see my friends and colleagues there, including Margaret Barker, Revd Robin Griffith-Jones, Jeffrey Bradshaw, William Hamblin, John Welch, Richard Wellington, and others. I was also very happy to make the acquaintance of Ezekiel scholar Paul Joyce of Oxford University.

My notes, unfortunately, are not complete. I missed Margaret Barker’s presentation as Jeffrey Bradshaw and I battled the London Underground system and lost.  I also missed Dr. David Sheppard’s presentation on “Temple and Messiah in the Targum of Isaiah,” which I’m sure was wonderful and hope that he posts it online.  Any of the talks that are posted should appear at this site: http://www.templestudiesgroup.com/Symposia.htm.
The Notes:

Margaret Barker — “The Temple in Kings and Chronicles”

The full text of her speech is already posted online at the above link. I highly recommend taking a look at it!

Paul Joyce, Oxford — “The Hidden Temple in Ezekiel”

Ezek 1 — Word of the Lord came to “priest” Ezekiel. “Word of the Lord came to” is a prophetic declaration, but it comes to a priest – Ezekiel was an exiled priest who was called to prophecy in Babylonia – a priest who becomes a prophet. The content of the book is both prophetic and priestly –  it confounds the notion that these are worlds apart. There are prejudices in academia against the priestly element and against the Book of Ezekiel itself.

The book is full of temple themes – it is shaped by the temple. It was written by a boy who grew up in the Jerusalem temple – its imagery fills what he says – explicit and implicit in things it can tell us about the temple.

Ezek 28 – v 11 ff. –rebuke of prince of Tyre – he is a figure that was once in Eden that fell from grace – description of the Eden setting – uses very mythological language – primal human being in Eden with precious stones – straight out of descriptions of the high priest – indirect priestly imagery – things of temple are connected to Eden and Creation

–Ezekiel is, above all, a visionary – “I saw visions of God”

Chapter 1 – dramatic picture with living creatures – dome over their heads – description of living creatures – throne above the dome – something that seemed like a human form – splendor like a rainbow – one of the boldest visions in Bible despite the round-about way of speaking – ultimately it is the Lord – he is not where he should be (in Jerusalem) but in Babylonia visiting Ezekiel – God is with his people in the Exile – this is giving us a sense of looking into the Holy of Holies – this is a visionary entry into the Holy of Holies and glimpse of the Deity.

–30th year – crucial year in the induction of a priest – maybe he was taken from Jerusalem before age of 30 – maybe he is having his prophetic/priesthood induction at age 30 in Babylon (the Throne Theophany may be a part of his priesthood initiation)

–this vision led Judaism to speculate about the Chariot – throne of God with wheels – provide mobility – merkavah (root of merkavah mysticism) – contemplations of “hashmal” – this led people to want to experience this type of vision – Rabbis warned against this type of speculation – put limitations on reading Ezekiel 1 (need to by 30 years old) – warned that one could be burned by fire for seeking this vision

–Christopher Rowland in Open Heaven – apocalyptic literature is not so much about eschatalogical chronology but about the vision of heaven

Chs. 8-11 – back in the temple and its precincts – vision of the fiery being again – carried him by his hair to Jerusalem – this is before the temple was actually destroyed – this is a visionary experience – he knew the temple setting like the back of his hand – sees grounds for the departure of Kavod (Glory of God) from the temple – very bleak scene of what’s going on at temple is depicted – this is what causes departure

–Shown seat of the image of Jealousy – what is this image? The language evokes the image of a creator – a deity creation figure? Statue of alien deities?  — these are painted as negative, but may have been legitimate earlier

Ezek 11:16 – I have been a sanctuary to them for a little while in the countries where they are – a “small sanctuary” – the God of Israel himself has become a temple (mikdash me’at) – this is an interesting idea centuries before Christ – temple is wherever you are – its not about a particular place in Jerusalem – it can be wherever you are in the world

–but the rest of the book backs off from this idea – third vision

Chapters 40-48 – a vision of a restored temple

–set on a very high mountain – a structure of a city was there – angelic guide

–commonly thought to be a vision of the restoration of the temple

–God returns to his temple in Glory – returns from the East – goes through east gate – glory of the Lord filled temple

–what happened to 2nd vision? The particular place of the temple is never left behind, but people can have temple “in small measure” wherever they’re at

–in our days, we see return of Jews to that particular place, but many still live internationally

–are these chapters a blueprint for the restored temple? – are they modelled on temple that Ezekiel knew? Doesn’t match other biblical descriptions, but most likely related to First Temple – very precise dimensions given – visionary combined with the pedantically particular – there is some ambiguity – kind of a flat plan, no vertical measurements – Second Temple doesn’t match this description – is it to be a fture eschatalogical temple? Theological imagination and aspiration (details don’t matter?) Tuell argues that this should be seen in line with chapter 1, that this is the heavenly temple – 25th: he is seeing God’s temple in heaven

–ch. 41:17ff. – in the nave there was a pattern of cherub—palm tree–-cherub carved on the door

ch. 47 water flowing from below south threshold of the temple – flows east through desert and then purifies dead sea – river of life from Eden – draws from a deep well of creation thinking – these themes are based on heavenly reality

–Q&A – Stephen Tuell and Silviu Bunta – research on ascent to heaven in Ezekiel

William Hamblin — “The Hidden Temple in John 17

–Centrality of temple imagery in Gospel of John

John 17 should be contextualized within larger Passover narrative

–washing of feet was a temple ritual (John 13) – couldn’t ascend temple mount with dirty feet

John 17 is transition point between mortal ministry and ascension to heaven

1. My Father’s house – in Father’s kingdom are many mansions – when he says “Father’s house” he is speaking of the temple – John 14:2 – there are many rooms in the temple and he will prepare one for them – he is not talking about the physical temple – If I go prepare a place for you, I will come and take you so that where I am you can be also

Where are you going and what is the way there? Thomas asking – the way is the Christian way – this is the original term for Christianity (“The Way”) – Heb 10: the new and everlasting way (way to the temple, through veil) – “Where I am” is with the Father

“Where I am” statements may be related to “I am” statements

–referring to heaven; heavenly temple

–Christians have largely lost mythos of heavenly temple

Psalm 11:4

Heb. 8-10, Revelation

2. Revelation of Name of the Father

–Christ was given Name of the Father and revealed it to disciples

–Exod 3:14 – revelation of name YHWH

–restriction on prnouncing name during Second Temple period – so we get Adonai/Kyrios in Second Temple times – then ha-Shem

–not supposed to “take the name of God in vain” – initially you couldn’t “blaspheme” the name, but later you couldn’t pronounce the name at all

–only high priest could pronounce it on the Day of Atonement – they whispered or mumbled it so that others could not hear – it could only be said in secret in the temple

–we should understand that Jesus was sharing the name in this context – like Moses, God revealed the name to Jesus – to reveal the name to others, he needed to be claiming to act with priestly authority, and he does – the text doesn’t tell us what the name was – was Father the name that was revealed?

3. Christ as manifestation of God’s glory

John 17:1 – glorify the Son – glory = brightness, splendor – LXX uses doxa to translate kavod – Kavod YHWH is the visible manifestation of God in the temple/tabernacle – blazing fire/light enshrowded in cloud – Kavod was so glorious that it caused Moses’ face to glow – Christ is the Kavod

Christ had glory before the world was; Father gives glory to son, who gives it to disciples; many mentions of glory/glorification in John 17; mutual glorification of Father, Son and disciples; mutual oneness; disciples will be with Jesus in heaven where they will see his full glory – theophany in celestial temple

4. Expulsion of the evil one

Azazel – scapegoat – expelled from community of Israel – atonement

17:15 – protect disciples from the evil one – ho poneros – asks that the ruler of this world be cast out – this is related to the scapegoat ritual

5. Sanctification of Christ and Disciples

–anything associated with temple must be holy – washing and donning clean garments – everything involved in rituals needs to be consecrated – qadesh = to make holy –

John 17:17–19 – sanctify the disciples – Christ sanctifies himself first – this is what the high priest does on the Day of Atonement – first offering is to sanctify the priest himself – then he can sanctify the community – this language would have invoked

6. Celestial ascent and unification

v. 20 – that they may be one just as you are in me and I in you – the glory you have given me, I have given to them – that we may be one

–tht they may be with me where I am that they may see my glory

–17:22 – that they may be one even as we are one – necessary prerequisite for unification

–Christ is not fully glorified unitl after ascent – the temple is the place where the glory is seen – in celestial temple – tradition of heavenly ascent – John has vision of heavenly temple, as does Paul –

vv. 21-22 – unification – Early Christians believed that this had to do with theosis/deification – Rev. 3:21 sit down on throne with God – idea of “synthronos” comes up frequently and is an allusion to deification – seeing the glory of the Lord transforms us into that glorious image

1 John – when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we will see him as he is

2Pet 1:4 – partakers of the divine nature

–ultimate goal of Christian theosis –

disciples to go to celestial temple to see Christ’s glory

Temple mythos is foundational to John 17 – Lord’s high priestly prayer – it is hidden to us because we have lost Temple mythos

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M. Barker comments:

Prov. 29:18 – where there is no vision, the people unravel

Book of Revelation is the happy fulfillment to the high priestly prayer (of John 17) — and people still say they were written by different authors!

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