Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Temple as the House of God

In the Priestly literature, God’s presence is in the Temple, not in heaven. This view is criticized in Solomon’s Temple dedication prayer, the Levites’ Prayer and Stephen’s Sermon. Is there any evidence that Second Temple Judaism believed that God’s presence was in the Temple? This question needs to be addressed in light of Stephen’s criticism.

According to Eusebius, the "Shekinah" Glory left the Temple and hovered over the Mount of Olives during "the siege of Jerusalem" (66 to 70 CE). The Shekinah is the presence of the Lord in the place where He has chosen to dwell. Josephus mentioned that in the Spring of 66 CE some astonishing events took place within the Temple. In War VI, 290, Josephus stated that a great light shone over the altar for thirty minutes at 3 o'clock in the morning (a week before Passover in 66 CE) and then it departed. Both of these can be interpreted to mean some Jews believed that God's presence was in the Temple.

In Matthew 12:4, Mark 2:26 and Luke 6:4, Jesus characterized the pre-Solomonic tabernacle dwelling as “the house of God.” In Matthew 23:21 (with no parallels in Mark or Luke), Jesus states, “and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it.” This statement implies that the Matthean Jesus viewed the Temple as the dwelling place of the living God.

Copyrighted 2006


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