Friday, January 01, 2010

Temple tantrums and the "others"

More on Jesus' temple tantrum as against the racist religious system, and not all about "don't sell stuff in church.":
By intercalating the story of the cursing of the fig tree within that of Jesus' obstruction of the normal activity of the temple, Mark interprets Jesus' action in the temple not merely as its cleansing but its cursing. For him, the time of the temple is no more, for it has lost its fecundity. Indeed , read in its immediate context, Jesus' subsequent instruction to the disciples, "Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea'" can refer only to the mountain on which the temple is built!

What is Jesus' concern with the temple? Why does he regard it as extraneous to God's purpose?
Hints may be found in the mixed citation of Mark 11:17, part of which derives from Iasaih 56:7, the other from 11:7. Intended as a house of prayer for all the nations, the temple has been transformed by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem into a den of brigands. That is, the temple has been perverted in favor of both socioreligious aims (the exclusion of Gentiles as potential recipients of divine reconciliation) and politico-economic purposes (legitimizing and
consolidating the power of the chief priests, whose teaching might be realized even in the plundering of even a poor widow's livelihood-cf 12:41-44)....

...In 12:10-11, Jesus uses temple imagery from Psalm 118 to refer to his own rejection and vindication, and in the process, documents his expectation of a new temple, inclusive of 'others' (12:9, Gentiles?) This is the community of his disciples.
-John T, Carroll and Joel B. Green, "The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity," p. 32-33

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