Monday, February 25, 2013

"We have to explain the explanation": more links on which veil was torn

The fact that most evangelicals assume it, and have never heard a common ancient interpretation is par for the course.

Doesn't everyone know that when the curtain in the temple was ripped at Jesus' death, it was the veil in front of the holy of holies, signifying that believers all have direct access to God through Christ? (:

Tony Campolo is no stranger to provocative statements and exaggerations (calling Jack Heaslip "elderly"!) , but he is also often just prophetic and speaking truth.  In unpacking this passage, he matter of factly states as a given that another curtain altogether--and thus another theological point--is being pressed.  After explaining the TWO curtains and the three sections of the temple, he concludes:

It was this curtain--which separated the  Outer Court from the Holy Place--that was torn in two at the moment Jesus died.  What divided Jewish men from Jewish women and Gentiles was ripped down.  The system of stratification that Judaism had cultivated and found expression in the temple was symbolically done away with  -Adventures in Missing the Point, p133
Campolo doesn't even mention the standard evangelical interpretation (shibbeloth?).
It's all about subverting  social stratification.  All this in a chapter about women in ministry.

Of course, this is ground covered before on this blog, though most interpreters focus on the inclusion of Gentiles:

"Behind the second curtain was a room called the Holy of Holies"
-Hebrews 9:3

We all know "the curtain of the temple was torn in two as Jesus died."

And most assume it was the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, meaning Jesus provides direct access to God.

Good and true that he does that, and it is the proper "evangelical answer"..

but what if the temple torn in two was not the second curtain (or second curtain only),
but the first..

what would the implications be?
The first curtain separated the outer court from the Holy Place; the second curtain, Scripture speaks of dividing the Holy Place and Holy of Holies..

So Jesus here would be dying not only to give us direct access to God, but to provide "direct access to direct access" to the foreigner/outcast/leper/prostitute....the folks who normally couldn't step beyond the outer court into the Holy Place, let alone the inner place, the Holy of Holies.

Why don't most evangelicals know there was a first curtain? And recognize that we may have re-built it in our time..  link:"temple tantrum/ which curtain was torn?:::

I love the  suggestion that Jesus parodied and overturned table  manners (Carroll and Green, p. 177)  throughout his ministry. So, in the "Temple Tantrum" literally overturned literal tables tables...also making a point about stratification and prejudice; if you've never heard that spin on the temple encounter and just assumed it was about commercialism,  see  my Salt Fresno magazine article : “Temple Tantrums For All Nations"-- perhaps the same prophetic point was being made,

Tim Geddert, an amazing scholar:

Mark alludes to the meaning of Jesus' death in the two events  he reports immediately after the announcement that he has died....As so often, Mark "explains" the meaning of something, but leaves a good bit of work to the interpreter.  We have to explain the explanation.

I have encountered  35 proposals for interpreting the torn temple veil.  Among them, at least these five can be well-defended by the context and/or the context of Mark 15:38:

1.The veil over Jesus'  divine sonship is removed (for those with eyes to see, Jesus' death reveals he is truly God's Son)..
2.  Jesus' death renders obsolete a whole range of ceremonial and sacrificial  exercises centered in the temple
3. The coming destruction of the temple, now inevitable because Jesus has been rejected, is already symbolically beginning
4.Through death, Jesus enters into God's presence, having accomplished the sacrifice that atones for all human sin (he fulfills the Day of Atonement)
5)  Through Jesus' death, Gentiles have access into the very presence of God (emphasis mine)
                                -Mark, Believers Church Bible Commentary, pp 380-81

We have all seen the first four, perhaps in quadrophonic.. But the fifth item: is it part of a ..uh, quintophonic ..view, or is it the lens through which to view this text and event:?

Tyndale   New Testament Commentary on Mark:

The symbolism of this rending is used later in the NT to denote the breaking down of the barrier between Jew and which all barriers between God and man were abolished  (Heb x:20; Eph ii:14) -Cole p,245

 A JBL article:
Interpreters also find a certain ambiguity in the Markan narrator’s
statement that “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom”
(15:38) at Jesus’ death. Since the temple had two significant curtains—one at the
entrance of the temple itself, another at the entrance of the Holy of Holies—it is
not entirely clear which curtain is intended in Mark’s story.
It is clear, however, that the “splitting” (ejscivsqh
, 15:38) of the enormous curtain “from top to bottom”is a divine act, like the “splitting” (
scizomevnou"[1:10, the only other Markan use of scivzw63]) of the heavens at the Markan Jesus’ baptism.

Thus most interpreters concur that “the destruction of the veil is the proleptic destruction of the temple,
the cancellation of the cult that had been prophetically enacted by the Markan
Jesus in 11:15–16 and explicitly predicted by him in 13:2. . . . The positive aspect
of the tearing of the curtain is the release of the divine presence into the world.”
What does the Markan Jesus’ death mean? It means not the end of God’s presence
on earth but its outward expansion. For Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ death means the
release of the divine presence into the world—into the whole world, to be recog-
nized by Gentiles as well as Jews. The strong yet unstated message of the implied
author to the implied audience at this point is soon echoed by the explicit message
of the young man at the empty tomb to the three women: “Go, tell” (16:7)
JBL 125, no. 2 (2006): 271–297

 Mishi, our beloved  (non-messianic) tour guide in Israel, stated simply  (as if everyone knew this) that the "Holy of Holies".. was "where the Holy Spirit lived."   Could it be that now that the Spirit has been let out of the box (temple) via the death and veil-rending event of Jesus..that the point is that everything is now missional and not attractional, especially the inclusion ofall nations in God's economy and salvation?

A Messianic Jewish perspective:
 it could indeed have been the
first veil that was torn, allowing all people who b lieve in Yeshua to act as priests in the
order of Melchizedek.  link

PS:One last (minor? ) twist:

As to which curtain was torn the gospels do not specify, however, New Testament scripture points us toward the inner curtain that set apart the Most Holy place from the rest of the temple, symbolizing that great work of Christ. In the words of Matthew Henry;
He died, to bring us to God, and, in order thereunto, to rend that veil of Guilt and wrath which interposed between us and him, to take away the cherubim and flaming sword, and to open the way to the Tree of Life (Matthew Henry, 1991, vol.5; p.349)
According to Jerome (Letter 120 to ‘Hedibia’ and ‘commentary on Matthew’ 27:51), in the Gospel of the Nazaraeans, it records that “not that the curtain of the temple was torn, but that the astonishingly large lintel of the temple collapsed” Gospel Parallels (ed by B. H. Throckmorton, jr, 1992, p.201, Nelson), echoing the destruction of Pentheus’ palace stables.

The Non-Rending of the Veil




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