Abstract of Losie, Lynn Allan. “The Cleansing of the Temple: A History of a Gospel Tradition in Light of Its Background in the Old Testament and in Early Judaism.”

Note: Most universities now require the author of a PhD dissertation to write an abstract.  The following abstracts have been taken from the author’s written summary of his/her work.

Losie, Lynn Allan.  “The Cleansing of the Temple: A History of a Gospel Tradition in Light of Its Background in the Old Testament and in Early Judaism.”  PhD diss., Fuller Theological Seminary, 1985.  [Israel/Herod/Christian]

Abstract:  The Gospel pericope of the cleansing of the temple provides a special opportunity for the reconstruction of a history of tradition, since it is one of the few pericopes which is attested in all four Gospels. Although the pericope has received attention in journal articles and in books on related themes, it has only been subjected to monograph-length scrutiny in two modern studies: E. Lohmeyer’s Lord of the Temple (1942) and an unpublished dissertation by R. E. Dowda (1972) which limits itself to a consideration of the synoptic Gospels. Using the data provided in all four Gospels, the present study is an attempt to trace the history of this tradition from Jesus through the interpretations of each of the Gospel writers, on the basis of the background in the Old Testament and in early Judaism.

Part I consists of three chapters which provide an independent assessment, in debate with other opinions, of the critique of and eschatological expectation concerning the temple in the Old Testament (Chapter 1), the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (Chapter 2), and the literature from Qumran (Chapter 3). It is argued that (a) all three bodies of literature exhibit a belief in a new or renewed eschatological temple as the scene of God’s future reign, (b) the role of a messianic figure in relation to this temple is only rarely attested, and (c) critique of the temple is relative in the literature of Palestinian provenance and fundamental only in the literature of the diaspora, which is more greatly influenced by hellenism.

Part II then turns to the Gospels and analyzes the tradition to determine its earliest form (Chapter 4), evaluates the significance of the earliest form of the tradition and attempts to relate this to the life of Jesus (Chapter 5), and, after noting developments in the attitude toward the temple in the early church, considers in turn the interpretation brought to the event of the cleansing by each of the Gospel writers (Chapter 6). It is argued that the pre-Markan form of the tradition is prior to the pre-Johannine form, and that this earliest tradition interprets the cleansing as an eschatological act in preparation for the advent of the kingdom of God. It is further suggested that this interpretation coheres with Jesus’ ministry as the eschatological prophet, and that a background might be found in Isaiah 52:7-12 where the herald of good tidings proclaims the kingdom of God and calls for a preparatory cultic cleansing. It is then shown that the event was soon interpreted as a negative critique in which Jesus became the messianic judge of Judaism (Mark), brought a divine visitation which was rejected by the Jews (Luke), and superseded the temple as the merciful Son of David (Matthew) and as the locus of God’s glory (John).

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