Abstract of Geraty, Lawrence T. “The Jerusalem Temple of the Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context.”

Geraty, Lawrence T.  “The Jerusalem Temple of the Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context.”  In The Sanctuary and the Atonement: Biblical, Historical, and Theological Studies, edited by Arnold V. Wallenkampf and W. Richard Lesher, 37-66.  Washington, D.C.: The Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1981.  [Israel/Solomon/Second Temple/Canaan]

Abstract:  Given the scholarly notion that Israel’s temple was a syncretic development from older temples in the ancient Near East, this article reviews the fundamentals of Solomon’s Temple along with a short review of non-Israelite temples with the ultimate purpose of comparing and contrasting them.  Many floor plans accompany this article.  A few interesting but little mentioned details about Solomon’s temple are given such as a helpful listing of plunderings of the temple (pp. 45-46).  The discussion of non-Israelite temples often includes mention of most of the major temples then known for each culture.

The conclusion contains eighteen parallels involving architectural, functional, and theological similarities in these societies.  Five “very significant dissimilarities” are also listed.  Most of them deal with functional and theological differences and some details in architectural difference.  Geraty concludes there was cultural influence and even borrowing by Judaism, but reminds the reader that the plan for Solomon’s temple was revealed by God and it’s most important distinctions from the surrounding environment were functional and theological.  God’s presence wasn’t there so much as the temple was a place for his name and the focus of religious attention.  Pagan theology saw the function of temples as places to supply their god with his physical needs and to please or appease him with gifts, whereas Israelite sanctuaries were for worship, prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and a sacrificial system for atonement.

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