About the Biblical Temple Theologies: From Wilderness Tabernacle to Heavenly Jerusalem course
‘How can God possibly dwell on earth?’ asks King Solomon, as the first Jerusalem temple is dedicated.
This course will explore various biblical answers to that question, focusing on how loss impacted the Bible’s understanding of divine presence and sacred space.
In ancient Israel, the Jerusalem temple was the fulcrum of religious life. It was seen as the dwelling place of God, the meeting point of heaven and earth. Its sacking by the Babylonians in 586 BCE proved the catalyst for the editing of written traditions, including an idealisation of the wilderness tabernacle.
Herod the Great’s building programme turned the second temple into one of the wonders of the Hellenistic world. Some regarded it as having cosmic significance, others were fiercely critical. Jesus’s overturning of the money changers’ tables, the aim of which is much debated, may have triggered his arrest.
Following the second temple’s destruction by the Romans in 70 CE, Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity gradually emerged as new temple-less religions, with different ways of conceptualising the presence of God. The New Testament uses temple imagery for both the incarnation and community life, as well as speculating about a heavenly sanctuary.
The course will introduce fresh perspectives on biblical texts, including an exploration of the complex relationship between the New Testament and the Jewish scriptures. There will be plenty of opportunity for discussion.