Review of Skinner, Andrew C. “Seeing God in His Temple: A Significant Theme in Israel’s Psalms.”

Abstract:  Skinner, Andrew C.  “Seeing God in His Temple: A Significant Theme in Israel’s Psalms.”  In Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament, edited by David R. Seely, Jeffrey R. Chadwick, and Matthew J. Grey, 270-90.  The 42d Annual Brigham Young University Sidney B. Sperry Symposium.  Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2013. [Israel/Heavenly Temple/Ascent/Presence/Recommend]

In Sinai and in Israel at the time of Solomon’s temple, God told Israel that they could be in his presence and see his face in the Tabernacle and the Temple.  This article by Andrew Skinner examines the Psalms, traditional temple-related texts, for their teachings on this subject and finds it is one of the preeminent ideas in the book of Psalms.  He begins with a brief discussion of examples of theophanies in the Old Testament and then turns to the teachings of the Psalms.  The first concept he finds is that the Psalms most frequently spoke of such theophanies as transpiring in the sacred precincts of the Tabernacle/Temple.  In addition, one of the purposes of the pilgrimages God commanded the Israelites to make to the temple yearly was primarily so that Israel could see the face of the Lord.

A considerable portion of the paper considers the requirements in the Psalms for worshippers at the temple, a subject treated by others before.  One of the new things Skinner gives readers is an explanation of differences between the KJV and the LXX versions of Psalm 24.  He does this not to highlight unique differences about the requirements listed in each version, but rather the stated purpose of temple worship found therein.  The KJV has an unusual rendition in verse 6 which reads: “There is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob.  Selah.”  The LXX, however, is more explicit with its rendition: “This is the generation … that seek the face of the God of Jacob.”  Skinner observes, “Why the Septuagint is clearer on this point is open to debate.”  (p. 280)  His footnotes do not indicate whether he is cognizant of the work of Robert Hayward on this subject, but his recent article “Understandings of the Temple Service in the Septuagint Pentateuch,” shows the same phenomena in the MT and LXX versions of the Pentateuch.  The differences are so consistent that it raises the possibility of someone tampering with the MT to make it conform to the given position that no man can see God.

Concerning requirements for temple worship, Skinner finds the common denominator among those passages in the Psalms is the purity of the worshipper. “ This emphasis on purity for temple worship is also found in modern LDS teaching on the subject, both scriptural and otherwise.

A final theme found in Psalms is that of praise for the joy of God’s presence among the people and his urging Israel to seek his face.  Skinner concludes with the observation that for the Psalmist, “seeking the face of the Lord was the quest of mortality.”  (p. 287)

Latter-day Saints may also appreciate this article for several details not mentioned in the above review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *