Review of Davies, G. I. “The Presence of God in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Doctrine.”

Davies, G. I.  “The Presence of God in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Doctrine.”  In Templum Amicitiae: Essays on the Second Temple Presented to Ernst Bammel, edited by William Horbury, 32-36.  Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991. [Israel/Second Temple/Presence/Theology]

This is a brief paper with a simple thesis.  Based on a statement in the Mishnah that five things, including the Shekinah, were missing from the Second Temple that were in Solomon’s Temple, the generally accepted belief is that the divine presence was not as strong in the Second Temple period.  He says R. E. Clement first questioned this on the basis of Joel 4:17.  Davies gives five passages from various times and backgrounds which show a rather consistent belief in the divine presence in the Second Temple.  They are: 1) Psalm 135:21; 2) Temple Scroll, 29:7-10; 3) Mt. 23:21; 4) Josephus, War 6:299, Tacitus Hist 5:13; 5) Mishnah, Sukkah 5:4.  He concludes with the interesting note that there are five passages in the Mishnah which speak of five things missing from the Second temple, but only one mentions the Shekinah.  So, perhaps this passage represents the exceptional view and deserves further consideration.

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