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Ascending Into the Hill of the Lord: The Psalms as a Key to Understanding the Rituals of the First Temple

Ascending Into the Hill of the Lord: The Psalms as a Key to Understanding the Rituals of the First Temple

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Published by David J. Larsen
Presentation by David J. Larsen at the 1st Annual Expound Symposium.
The Psalms contain many allusions and also direct references to the temple and temple ritual and are one of the few windows we have into the religious experience of the First Temple in Jerusalem. This paper will attempt to shed some light on ritual practices alluded to in the Psalms that I will argue were central to the ritual system of that Temple. Dr. Silviu Bunta, in a recent publication, argues that 1 Enoch 14 should not, as is commonly argued, be understood as the earliest example of the ascent to heaven motif in Jewish literature, but that Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 1 should be seen as a temple vision and, thus, as an earlier, biblical account of an ascent to heaven. Moving a step beyond Bunta’s conclusions, I argue that the heavenly ascent motif can be traced even further back, into the pre-exilic traditions of Solomon’s Temple, as illustrated by a number of pre-exilic Psalms and other biblical traditions, and that a ritualized ascent into heaven to see the face of God was one of the central features of the temple cult. Descriptions of temple pilgrimages, festal processions, passage through temple gates, divine theophanies, and other religious experiences involving the temple can be seen to parallel key elements of the later heavenly ascent literature.
Presentation by David J. Larsen at the 1st Annual Expound Symposium.
The Psalms contain many allusions and also direct references to the temple and temple ritual and are one of the few windows we have into the religious experience of the First Temple in Jerusalem. This paper will attempt to shed some light on ritual practices alluded to in the Psalms that I will argue were central to the ritual system of that Temple. Dr. Silviu Bunta, in a recent publication, argues that 1 Enoch 14 should not, as is commonly argued, be understood as the earliest example of the ascent to heaven motif in Jewish literature, but that Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 1 should be seen as a temple vision and, thus, as an earlier, biblical account of an ascent to heaven. Moving a step beyond Bunta’s conclusions, I argue that the heavenly ascent motif can be traced even further back, into the pre-exilic traditions of Solomon’s Temple, as illustrated by a number of pre-exilic Psalms and other biblical traditions, and that a ritualized ascent into heaven to see the face of God was one of the central features of the temple cult. Descriptions of temple pilgrimages, festal processions, passage through temple gates, divine theophanies, and other religious experiences involving the temple can be seen to parallel key elements of the later heavenly ascent literature.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: David J. Larsen on May 26, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/13/2012

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