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Jesus the Temple

On Credo’s “Reviews” page, Paul Cable, Ph.D. candidate in New Testament at Wheaton College, has written an insightful review of Nicholas Perrin’s new book, Jesus the Temple. Cable begins,

Nicholas Perrin is Franklin S. Dyrness Associate Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School and previously served as research assistant to N.T. Wright. Perrin clearly shares much with his mentor: a critical-realistic approach to historical Jesus studies, excellent facility with ancient sources, thematic convictions about continuing exile and messianism, and an engaging, accessible style.

Perrin’s thesis in Jesus the Temple is that “Jesus of Nazareth saw himself and his movement as nothing less than the decisive embodiment of Yahweh’s eschatological temple” (12). If, as Perrin claims in the introduction, the movement from which Jesus’ movement sprang can be shown to have been “counter-temple,” and if the movement which continued after Jesus’ earthly ministry could also be categorized as such, then it makes sense to argue that Jesus and his followers also saw themselves in a similar “counter-temple” light.

Preceding Jesus were multiple Jewish “counter-temple” movements, including Qumran sect and the community that produced the Psalms of Solomon. Perrin outlines common aspects of these two movements and compares them with that of another close predecessor of Jesus, John the Baptist. These movements, despite their clear differences, Perrin argues, share four major features that characterize them as “counter-temple:” 1) finding “fault with the ruling priesthood…so that they considered the temple defiled,” 2) believing that “a time of tribulation was underway,” 3) seeing themselves as “the scriptural fulfillment of ‘the poor,’” and 4) carrying out “temple functions” in response to perceived defilement of the Jerusalem temple.

Read the rest of Cable review here.

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