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Temple Theology: An Introduction Paperback – 23 Apr 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing (23 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 028105634X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281056347
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 0.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Margaret Barker is an independent biblical scholar and former President of the Society for Old Testament Study and a member of the Ecumenical Patriarch's Symposium on Religion, Science and the Environment; and a Methodist local preacher.


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Barker is not only an independent scholar in the field of Life of Jesus research, but also a Methodist minister as well, which might come as a surprise, since her writing is challenging and revolutionary. Her scholarship is refreshing in the fact that she writes both narrowly as an exegete but also broadly as a historian and which is unique in this field, although none the less challenging and refreshing. Her field of interest covers not just `Life of Jesus' research but also the history and tradition of the Davidic first temple cult and the origins of what became Christianity through to the time of Jesus and beyond.
This particular title may be considered as a general introduction to her work and was originally presented as a series of lectures given at Heythrop College, London University in 2003. It is a surprise to learn from her research that Christianity is older than Judaism, but her arguments (which are extensively explained and argued in great detail in her other writings) are solid and clear. Her argument being that Christian theology developed very quickly because it had evolved out of a preceding and fully formed and earlier faith - one which was not Judaism or the faith of the second temple, but the theology of the first, Davidic temple, and to which Jesus and his followers were the successors. She is therefore also parenthetically refuting the usual assumption that a mature Christian theology necessarily developed gradually through a confluence with Greek philosophy and culture.
Unlike many academics in this field - and one thinks here of writers such as Dominic Crossan - Barker does not project concepts framed within her/our culture upon the culture that she is researching.
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In May of 2003, Margaret Barker was invited to give the Cardinal Hume lectures at Heythrop College, University of London. These four lectures serve as the basis for her tenth book, Temple Theology: An Introduction. She comments that the invitation to do the lectures "gave me the opportunity to pause and look at my work. For many years I have been absorbed in a quest to discover the meaning of the temple...I have often been reminded how far I have traveled (or even strayed!) from the mainstream. In these lectures I describe something of the view from this point on the journey, and speculate about what may lie over the horizon, and how this could affect our perception of Christian origins." In this volume of about 100 pages, she provides an overview of her views for general readers.

The forward by the Principal of Heythrop College shows the significance that an academic Christian sees in her work. He quotes her declaration that "Temple theology is the original context of the New Testament. It knew of incarnation and atonement, the sons of God and the life of the age to come, the day of judgement, justification, salvation, the renewed covenant and the Kingdom of God." He is clearly impressed by Barker's solutions to several puzzles regarding Christian beginnings, and by her claim that Jesus "is the author and finisher of the faith, rather than the early communities, a supposition which has been fashionable for some time." There has been steady increase of attention given to her work in the form of numerous reviews, invitations to speak in prestigious forums, a term as the president elect of the Society for Old Testament Study, an invitation to head up a project at Cambridge to study the Temple, and her position as editor of a line of academic books for an English publisher.
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Having read most of Margaret Barker's works, she follows her same modis operandi in spelling out the Old Testament symbolism to gain a more clear understanding of Christianity. Where many Scholars assume that the first Christians had a very simple and undeveloped faith that evolved due to Greek influence, Barker shows that the Jewish Christian perspective was well developed and built off a much older tradition. This is a very short book and written in lay terms making it accessible to all readers. It focus' on Creation, Covenant, Atonement and Wisdom. The understanding of these Jewish concepts would change in the hands of the Greeks, but by understanding how they were seen through Jewish eyes, we have a much more clear understanding of what the first Christians were thinking and how they saw the Temple as a central pillar in their faith.
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Mrs Barker's writings should be required reading for all who claim to study the Bible (I'd like to say all Christians but that's hoping for too much!) and would-be be theologians. Most of her books are densely packed with technical references to ancient texts beyond the purview of most readers, but here is an accessible overview of her thesis. This is that Christianity is derived from the beliefs of the Israel of the First
Temple, the doctrine of the Son of God, the Trinity are not later importations but beliefs which were expunged by post-exilic Judaism.
One of the main problems shown by MB is that the modern Bible is very different to the scriptures accepted by Jesus and the early church and that the post-reformation church has too readily accepted the rabbinic redaction of the Old Testament.
I could say a lot more, but read it for yourself.
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