Temple Studies

Temple Studies is a relatively new field of Biblical study, focusing on the relationship between themes which underlie the older theology of the Bible and the theology of the First Temple, also called Solomon’s Temple.  This field has been pioneered by British Bible scholar Margaret Barker.  According to Dr. Barker’s website,

Temple theology traces the roots of Christian theology back into the first Temple, destroyed by the cultural revolution in the time of King Josiah at the end of the seventh century BCE.  Refugees from the purges settled in Egypt and Arabia.

From widely scattered surviving fragments, it is possible to reconstruct the world view of the first Christians, and to restore to their original setting such key concepts as the Messiah, divine Sonship, covenant, atonement, resurrection, incarnation, the Second Coming and the Kingdom of God. (http://www.margaretbarker.com)

According to an online encyclopaedia,

Temple Theology is an approach to Biblical studies developed by Margaret Barker in her books starting from The Great High Priest (2003) and Temple Theology (2004). This approach identifies some elements of the theology and worship of the first Jewish First Temple that endured beyond Josiah’s reform and survived in both early Christian theology and liturgy and in gnosticism. According to this view Temple Theology has been influential in molding the roots of Christianity as well as, or even more than, Hellenistic or synagogue culture.

According to Dr. Barker, the main ideas of Temple Theology are the following:

  • understanding the First Temple as the figure of the whole universe: the inner court (the sea) to be the figure of the pagans, the Holy (the earth) to be the figure of the Jewish people and the Holy of Holies (the heaven) to be the figure of the Garden of Eden;
  • entering the Holy of the Holies is a mystical experience that transforms man into an angel (theosis), thus entering the Garden of Eden and giving knowledge to understand creation. This idea is related to the Resurrection;
  • the main aim of the liturgy, and in particular of the Day of Atonement, was to maintain the Creation.
  • The Lord (Yahweh), the God of Israel, was the Son of God Most High. Jesus, from the very beginning, was recognized as the Lord in this sense.
  • The early Christian liturgy incorporated many elements of the First Temple Liturgy: the liturgy of the bread of the Eucharist traces its roots in the  +Saturday offering of the bread (Leviticus 24:5 -9 ) and the liturgy of the wine in the Day of Atonement.

Margaret Barker works from all the available sources (the Hebrew Bible, the LXX, the Dead Sea scrolls, the New Testament, the Jewish and Christian Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Gnostic texts, and other early writings and artwork). According to her, Sola Scriptura has hindered rather than helped the understanding of Christianity.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Barker)

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