Sunday, 25 November 2007

Master's Thesis: Fulfillment of Temple Theology in Matthew's Gospel

1994 Master's Thesis: Fulfillment of Temple Theology in Matthew's Gospel (Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., copyright 1994 by James M. Leonard)

Chapter 1

Introduction to the Problem
and Preview of Argument

1.1. Introduction

This chapter is designed to introduce the issue of Jesus and Temple in Matthew's Gospel. The history of research is outlined, followed by a preview of the argument contained in the subsequent chapters.

1.1.1. Review of Modern Scholarship

Developments in modern biblical scholarship have made a study on Jesus and the Temple in Matthew a timely endeavor. Such a study is propelled by advances in the third quest for the historical Jesus and in recent analyses of Matthew's theology. Both of these fronts are briefly analyzed in the following paragraphs.

1.1.2. The Third Quest for the Historical Jesus

The third quest for the historical Jesus has often found the relationship between Jesus and Temple at its center. This is the case, at least to some extent, in works by Marcus Borg, S.G.F. Brandon, Craig Evans, Richard A. Horsley, Ben F. Meyer, Jacob Neusner, but especially so in works by Bruce Chilton, Ernst Lohmeyer, E.P. Sanders, and N. Thomas Wright. The relationship between the historical Jesus and the Temple is explored further in section 3.2., and one may read Sanders for an extended analysis and review of the quest for the historical Jesus. Based upon the insights and contributions of these recent scholars, one may conclude that any resolution to the problem of the historical Jesus must explain Jesus' relationship to the Temple.

A study of the relationship between Jesus and the Temple in Matthew contributes to the quest in two significant ways. First of all, upon mature reflection of the text, one may find numerous indications of the historical relationship between Jesus and the Temple. Second, Matthew, as a member of the primitive community, is able to proffer his own assessment of the relationship between Jesus and the Temple, which may in fact reflect the historical situation. While the following chapters do not emphasize the quest, they certainly invite further consideration of the issue, especially in regard to Matthew's document.

1.2. The Theology of Matthew

In the 1960s and 1970s, redaction criticism came to the forefront as a critical tool of biblical scholarship. Remarkable advances have been made using this tool in conjunction with synoptic studies. However, just a few works providing a more comprehensive overview of Matthew's theology have been published, despite the availability of numerous works which detail specific aspects of Matthean theological peculiarities. To date, there is no work which provides a careful analysis of Matthew's Temple theology.

This last statement needs some qualification. H. Frankemö1le analyzes Matthew's Presence theology, focusing on 1:23 and 28:20 and other texts which refer to Immanuel's presence with his Church. Frankemö1le, however, does not seem to relate his discussion to Matthew's Temple theology. A few works, briefly or in passing, discuss Matthew's Temple theology in counterpoint to one or more of the other Gospels (e.g., Telford, Chance, and Weinert), or in the context of a general overview of Temple theology (e.g., R.E. Clements, B. Gartner, Lloyd Gaston, and R.J. McKelvey). However, the value of these works in regard to Matthew is largely vitiated by their brevity and lack of in depth analysis. No article or monograph provides a comprehensive discussion or even an adequate overview of Matthew's Temple theology.

Given the general interest in redaction criticism and in the Temple's role in the third quest, this dearth of inquiry regarding Jesus and the Temple in Matthew is striking. One would think that a study of Jesus and the Temple in Matthew would considerably advance present knowledge of Matthew's theology and the historical Jesus. Furthermore, such a study would almost certainly impact the issue of early Jewish Christianity and the parting of the ways since Matthew seems to have such a Heimat and since the Temple would likely have been a significant factor in debates between the parent and child communities (cf., e.g., the role of the Temple in Qumran's quarrel with the parent community). Consequently, a study of Jesus and the Temple in Matthew offers the potential to make considerable advances toward a better understanding of the historical Jesus, Matthew's own theology, and the relationship between primitive Christianity and Judaism.

1.3. Preview of Argument

Matthew inherited from the OT a rich and multifaceted Temple tradition. At the heart of this tradition was the notion that God had made his dwelling with his holy people and that God's abiding presence was manifest in the Temple. These traditions developed throughout the course of Israel's history, beginning at Mt. Sinai and continuing with numerous national crises, so that in the last and succeeding years of the kingdom, there arose a vision of a new eschatological Temple associated with the establishment of God's rule. In conjunction with this new vision, there arose disputes regarding cultic procedures and other issues which created some dissent within Jewish society, so much so that some fringe groups distanced themselves from the Temple and engaged in a thoroughgoing polemic against it. Against this background, Jesus and the Christian movement arose. There is evidence that Jesus himself took some (prophetic) action against the Temple and predicted its destruction. Some Christian communities reflected on Jesus' actions and predictions and concluded that the Temple had become obsolete and that somehow the eschatological Temple had arisen and was now comprised of members of the Church; in short, OT Temple theology was viewed as being fulfilled in the Church. Matthew's Gospel seems to reflect one such community.

That Matthew viewed the Church as fulfilling OT Temple theology is suggested variously throughout his Gospel. First of all, Matthew emphasizes God's presence with his faithful people, the Church, in the person of Jesus who is Immanuel, God with us. This emphasis is obtained by Matthew's repeated allusions to the Immanuel passage or its theology. In so doing, Matthew has incorporated the absolute fundamentum of OT Temple theology in describing Jesus' relationship to the Church. Second, Matthew describes the founding and functioning of the Church in terms which have a Temple domain. Third, Matthew hints at the Temple's defilement and underscores Jesus' declaration of judgment against the Temple in such a way as to establish that it is no longer the dwelling place of God. These elements of Matthew's Temple theology are explored in the following chapters with the intention of establishing that Matthew viewed the Temple as having been surpassed by the presence of Jesus in his Church in the new age, and therefore, as having become obsolete and destined for destruction. Matthew's community, then, is probably to be viewed as belonging to a larger Christian community which also viewed the Temple as obsolete and surpassed by something greater in the eschatological age.


jim thompson said...

love your site, brother. xapis kai eipnvn....

Iusephus said...

Salve! Very interesting your hobby, for me coptic culture is important too. If you have need in such slavic or romanic versions of Gospels I can help you. I write a work about Lord's Prayer in my language, but I think is very important to research the oldest versions too... I searched Lord's Prayer from Schoyen Codex, isn't on the Internet. Ufff, sorry for my English language...I forgot it. With the best wishes,

Rev. James M. Leonard said...

I'll write back about Lord's Prayer in Codex Schoyen, when I get a chance.