2nd Temple Judaism, The Temple, and Biblical Theology

N.T. Wright, in Paul and the Faithfulness of God, has a section describing the worldviews of a 2nd temple Jew. He provides valuable insight in the purpose and function of the Temple. When matched with the Temple themes in the NT, a holistic change is brought forth. If he is right, it is no wonder early Christianity was not received well by the Jewish people, especially when it comes to the Temple.

But nonetheless, these comments do shed light for modern interpreters on the importance of knowing 2nd temple literature and having an idea of the contemporary worldviews because of its aid in shedding light on interpretation. Continue reading

Trinitarian and Cultic Imagination: Ignatian Christology (Part II)

As mentioned in Ignatian Christology: Part I, this is a non-scholastic description of Ignatian Christology. The following are beginning thoughts and a running commentary on a passage involving the Trinity and the Temple. One helpful aspect to reading the Apostolic Fathers is their imaginative explanations. They create imagery with their explanations, and Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians is no exception.

Below is a small passage highlighting why we ought not to be deceived by “evil doctrine.” The Trinity, and our faith and love create a cultic image whereby Christ is the mechanism constructing us into a temple.

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Ign.Eph 9.1 — “But I have learned that certain people from elsewhere have passed your way with evil doctrine, but you did not allow them to sow it among you. You covered up your ears in order to avoid receiving the things being sown by them, because you are stones of a temple, prepared beforehand for the building of God the Father, hoisted up to the heights by the crane of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, using as a rope the Holy Spirit; your faith is what lifts you up, and love is the way that leads up to God.”

Ign.Eph 7–9 seem to indicate a central idea of avoiding or being aware of evil men and false teachers. Ignatius praises the church (9.1a) because they did not allow the men with evil doctrine to be sown among them. The subject is “you”. Ignatius provides a list of four appositives to further define the hearer: being stones, prepared beforehand, those hoisted up, and making use of a rope. The following is a brief clausal diagram demonstrating the relationship between clauses.

(a) ὡς ὄντες λίθοι ναοῦ (Apositional equative clause: You)

(b)        προητοιμασμένοι    εἰς οἰκοδομὴν θεοῦ πατρός,

(c)         ἀναφερόμενοι           εἰς τὰ ὕψη διὰ τῆς μηχανῆς Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

(d)                                                         ὅς ἐστιν σταυρός,

(f)          σχοινίῳ χρώμενοι

(g)               τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ·

(h) ἡ δὲ πίστις ὑμῶν ἀναγωγεὺς ὑμῶν,

(i) ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη ὁδὸς

(j)             ἡ ἀναφέρουσα εἰς θεόν.

This Trinitarian expression includes cultic overtones (i.e. a Temple). The people serve as stones for the temple, of which the Father has prepared before hand. Imagery of the cross is then symbolized as a crane (μηχανή). This crane is potentially mirroring a Gnostic background, but “his allegorization of the material robs it of its Gnostic overtones or at least significantly mutes them.”[1] Regardless of a Gnostic background, symbolism of the cross was commonplace among apostolic literature.[2] This crane, possibly, may symbolize the later use of the term as a ships mast.[3] This crane, known to Ignatius, could have had two elements: two upright pieces of wood, held at an angle by pieces of rope, and a rope for lifting stones, most likely with pulleys and wheels.[4] The following phrase, ὅς ἐστιν σταυρός, aids the mind of the reader to properly observe this crane imagery as the cross of Christ.

The assembly of this crane needs rope not only to prop the crane upright, but also involving a pulley system to move stones. The rope, then, as Ignatius continues to bolster this creation, is the Holy Spirit. The participle “making use” (χρώμενοι) uses a dative as its object “rope” (σχοινίῳ).[5] Being separated by the verb, the second dative phrase is in apposition to the first: the rope is the Holy Spirit.

Ignatius’ imaginative vision is a temple and all its components. The reader is stones and in order to be part of the temple, the crane (i.e. cross of Jesus), serves as the support beam to lift up these stone to the heights. The rope, possibly a pulley system, is the Holy Spirit moving you into place. The way there is by means of faith and love.

[1]Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch, 66–67.

[2]Justin Martyr, in his First Apology, has a section on “symbols of the cross” whereby he has imagery of a ship and others. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, The Ante-Nicene Fathers 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 181–82.

[3]Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch, 67.

[4]Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch, 67.

[5]BDAG, 1087.

1 Peter, Familial Language, and Cultic Imagery

The following is running “thought-process” as I’ve taken a short break from Patristic literature to study 1 Peter 1. In a way, I’m thinking out loud on patterns that caught my eye.

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Similar language of family, child, newborn, birth, rebirth, etc. are only found in 1 Pet 1.3–2.10 within his two epistles. Why? Peter uses imagery of kindred and familial language to describe the new people of God. The following is a progressive reading and noting its surrounding ideas.

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Two Reasons Why “Israel” Can Possibly Be a Spiritual Term for the “People of God”

Theological continuity between the testaments will no doubt create a close relationship between the Church and Israel. Viewing a “big-picture” theological portrait of the testaments, will provide a close relationship between the Church and Israel. I want to propose a continuity of a few theological thoughts that appear early in the OT and frequently reappear in the OT and NT undergoing various modifications. I don’t have another framework to think through, other than “theological modes”. That is, a theological thought will use a vehicle to communicate theology and this theological thought will frequently reappear throughout the testaments but with varying vehicles of communications.

Take for example the “vehicle” of Eden. Eden is viewed as the initial dwelling place of God; Beale, in The Temple and the Mission of the Church, views Eden as the first temple. However, throughout Isaiah and Ezekiel, Eden is subsequently viewed as a place of refreshment for the people of God in Exile as a land far off. Yet it will be the renewed created order (heavens and earth) in the remote future that will provide the fullest expression of Eden-like realities (God’s dwelling place, trees of healing, endless rivers, etc.). Though not fully explained in this small paragraph, Eden initially, as a physical place, also serves as a vehicle of sinless life and possibly an initial temple; the mode changed to refer to a land that would provide refreshment to those in Exile and final culmination with the New Heavens and New Earth.

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