“Behold, your house is left to you” : the theological and narrative place of the Jerusalem Temple in Luke’s Gospel (and beyond).
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Rice, Peter H. (Peter Harrison)
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This study examines the place of Jerusalem and its Temple within Luke’s Gospel, arguing, in Part One, that Luke’s treatment of these related entities must be explored and understood against the broader horizon of Luke’s use of Scripture, his rhetorical milieu, and his theological context. Attending to Luke’s rhetorical context indicates sensitivity to what is termed here “subtle communication,” especially via double-meanings and use of allusion (intertextuality). Placed within Luke’s theological context, the recent destruction of Jerusalem confronted Luke (along with other late-first-century readers of Israel’s Scripture) as above all a problem of theodicy: how to defend God in the face of Jerusalem’s utter devastation. In surveying previous literature on this topic, this study notes two frequent failures: to give Luke full credit as a theologian, as well as to account properly for the narrative shape of his Gospel. Attempting in Part Two to remedy these common shortcomings, this study undertakes a reassessment of the place of Jerusalem and its Temple in Luke’s Gospel, analyzing crucial scenes within the Gospel in light of the Gospel’s overall narrative flow. This analysis yields a portrait of the Jerusalem Temple in Luke’s Gospel that is complex, multi-fold, and coherent, one comprised of four interwoven strands constituting an engaging theological response to the pressing theodical concerns of his day. These strands are: 1) an interpretation of Jerusalem along the lines of Shiloh, the rejected one-time holy place of God; 2) an emphasis on the Temple’s role in disclosing Jesus’ identity, logically coupled with a narratival shift away from the Jerusalem Temple as a sacerdotal cultic site, begun with Jesus’ (and to a lesser degree John’s) arrival, and culminating at the cross; 3) an identification of Jesus as a prophet, indeed as the greatest of the prophets, vis-à-vis, and thus in conflict with, the city now described as murderer of the prophets; and 4) an appeal to a spectrum of (mostly prophetic) scriptures that depict God’s judging his people, especially the Jerusalem authorities, for their wickedness. It concludes with a brief treatment of Acts.