OT3—Study Paper

2007

Brendan Moar

What's the go with the Temple and the Post Exilic Prophets?
1. Post Exilic Prophecy went out of fashion with scholars…
1.1. What happened to make people go off it?
4 things: Christians; Liberals; Comparative Religion School; History of Religion School Christians studying the OT were influenced by the NT and saw the cultic regulations and worship regulations as obsolete (esp. in light of Hebrews). Liberal Protestants didn’t like the lack of social justice aspects in the post exilic prophets. They're more concerned with the ethics of the bible than the supernatural and rituals. Comparative religions school looks at the bigger picture of the ANE. Apparently the cultic rituals are all borrowed form other places. The one big distinctive is ethical monotheism.

Ethical monotheism means two things: 1. There is one God from whom emanates one morality for all humanity. 2. God's primary demand of people is that they act decently toward one another. 1

History of religion school postulates that Israel's religion has evolved (like Darwin saw animals evolving). Went from polytheism (Patriarchs) through henotheism (local god being the best; under Moses) to ethical monotheism (8th C prophets). Saw the post exilic prophets as supporters of the establishment attacked in 8th C.

2. …but it came back in vogue!
4 things: the holocaust; rethink of post exilic period; new studies; collapse of historical-critical approach The Holocaust sparked a renewed interest in the Jewish religion. Christians began to wield a more politically correct approach towards OT study; adoption of BCE/CE and pressure to abandon the caricature of Jews as legalists.

1

Denis Prager, Ethical Monotheism, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/mono.html

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OT3—Study Paper

2007

Brendan Moar

The Post Exilic period is now seen as the birth-place of Judaism. The prophets complemented the work of the reformers (like Ezra and Nehemiah). In particular they kept alive the promises of the earlier prophets by reinterpreting them in the light of the realities of the post-exilic period. Paul Williamson The studies of Peter Ackroyd and Rex Mason fuelled interest in this period. The death of historical-critical approaches was brought on by post-modernism and literary-analysis. We don’t worry about J, P, E, and the other one any more.

3. The Temple is viewed positively by Post Exilic Prophets
The focus in the post-exilic prophets is on the rebuilding of the temple. The positive attitude towards the temple is almost unexpected. After all, the pre-exilic prophets spoke out with great vitriol against the temple and the cult. The contrast is here: Pre-exilic prophets abuse of the cult/temple led to jeopardised relationship with YHWH

post-exilic prophets no temple

4. So what does Haggai think about the Temple?
Temple is pre-requisite for blessing; Building the temple is God's work; Temple is a harbinger of the eschaton

4.1. Israel needs the temple for divine blessing
A Key Theme of the Book: building the temple is a necessary condition of divine blessing. • That's why he rebukes them for being lazy and focussing on themselves instead of building the temple. 1:2-11 • When they build the temple, YHWH will be present in exceeding glory 2:7-9 • Start building = start being blessed 2:15-19

4.2. Building the temple is God's initiative, not a work of merit for humankind.
• 1:14

Temple and Post Exilic Prophets

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OT3—Study Paper

2007

Brendan Moar

So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God,

• •

God is working with them 1:13; 2:4: 'I am with you". This grace, not works: God is using and sustaining his people to do his work.

4.3. The temple as a harbinger of the eschaton.
harbinger: something that precedes and indicates the approach of something or
someone else

The new temple may not have been as impressive as the old one, but it was mightily significant:
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Haggai 2:6-9 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake 7 the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired 8 of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty. 'The 9 silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."

• • •

Compare with Isa 60 where the nations come to see the Glory of YHWH in Zion, God's eschatological dwelling place. The blessings will come "in a little while": the temple is the harbinger of the eschatological blessing, not the fulfilment. NO LITURGY: the temple, and not the cultic rituals are the important thing.

5. So what does Zechariah think about the Temple?
He agrees with Haggai (1-8); but pushes the eschaton further into the future (9-14)

5.1. Haggai got it right (1-8):
Temple Comes Before Blessing • 1:12; where's the blessing?

Zechariah 1:12 Then the angel of the LORD said, "LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?"

Start building = start being blessed
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Zechariah 8:9-13 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "You who now hear these words spoken by the prophets who were there when the foundation was laid for the house of the 10 Before that time LORD Almighty, let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built. there were no wages for man or beast. No one could go about his business safely because of 11 But now I will not deal with the his enemy, for I had turned every man against his neighbor. 12 "The seed will remnant of this people as I did in the past," declares the LORD Almighty. grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will 13 drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people.

Temple and Post Exilic Prophets

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OT3—Study Paper

2007

Brendan Moar

As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong."

Temple is God's initiative • God will be there with the builders.
Zechariah 1:16 "Therefore, this is what the LORD says: 'I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt.

It is God who is the sustaining force behind the builders.

Zechariah 4:6 So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

5.2. Let me be clearer than Haggai: the eschaton is distant (914)
There are hard times ahead • God's community must face hard times and struggles before the realisation of eschatological blessings. (9-13) But God's Glory will fill the temple • Chapter 14 spells out the great eschatological hope of God's glory filling the temple and the whole city [14:20-21]!

Temple and Post Exilic Prophets

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