Saturday, March 08, 2008

The relationship of the Jewish Temple and Christian Liturgical Worship

Father Finigan has an interesting report up on The Hermeneutic of Continuity called The Temple and Christian Liturgy which talks about his recent involvement in the (always excellent) Society of Saint Catherine of Siena.

This particular event involved various groups other than Catholics, and surrounded an interesting theme of the relation of the temple and Christian liturgical worship. Father Finigan captures the thrust of the day:

...Margaret Barker, a Hebrew scholar from a Methodist background, has been publishing on the subject of the roots of Christian worship in the worship of the first Temple. Her latest book, just published by T & T Clark, is called "Temple Themes in Christian Worship". I was introduced to this book by Dr Laurence Hemming and other members of the Society of St Catherine of Siena 'Nicholas Group' for Study of Theological Issues in the Traditional Liturgy which I was invited to join. ('Nicholas Group' because it first met on the feast of St Nicholas last year.)

Yesterday, the Society held a seminar, on the theme of Margaret Barker's latest book, in the Senior Common Room of the London Campus of Notre Dame University, just around the corner from the National Gallery. There were a number or short formal responses to the book given by scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds. It was interesting to hear the reflections of Bishop Basil of Amphipolis from an Orthodox viewpoint...

It was actually through the fowarding of the announcement of this event a number of weeks back that I first learnt of Margaret Barker's work and it certainly struck me as interesting and something that I wished to look into further.

Barker has two books which seem to be of particular interest:

Temple Themes in Christian Worship


For a long time scholarship has been seeking the origins of Christian worship in the synagogue. In this new major book, Margaret Barker traces the roots of Christian worship back to the Jewish temple. By proposing a temple setting, a great deal more can be explained, and the existing rather limited resources can be more fruitfully used. By working with a great variety of sources (canonical, extra-canonical and Fathers, all presented here in tranlsation), it is possible to reconstruct something of the early Christian world view, which shows the Church as the conscious continuation of the temple worship.

Fundamental practices such as baptism and the Eucharist had Temple Roots, and familiar words in the liturgy of the church such as Maranatha and Hallelujah derived from the ancient belief that the Lord appeared in the Temple. Jesus was the God of Israel manifested as a the Great High Priest, and the Christians were his new angel priesthood, singing the angelic liturgy to restore and renew the earth.

The chapters in this book cover baptism, in theology and practice, the Eucharist, with special emphasis on the symbolism of the elements, the significance of music and hymns, festivals and pilgrimage, use of the Scriptures, both what the early Christians used and how they read them, prayers, including the Lord’s prayer, and the shape of church buildings.

The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy


Margaret Barker has been researching and writing about the Jerusalem temple for over twenty years. Many of her studies have remained unpublished. Here for the first time her work on the roots of Christian liturgy has been brought together.Whereas most scholarship has concentrated upon the synagogue, Margaret Barker's work on the Jerusalem temple contributes significantly to our understanding of the meaning and importance of many elements of Christian liturgy which have hitherto remained obscure. This book opens up a new field of research.The many subjects addressed include the roots of the Eucharist in various temple rituals and offerings other than Passover, the meaning of the holy of holies and the Christian sanctuary, the cosmology of temple and church, the significance of the Veil of the Temple for understanding priesthood and Incarnation, the Holy Wisdom and the Mother of God, angels and priesthood, the concept of unity, the high priestly tradition in the early church and evidence that Christianity was a conscious continuation of the temple. All scholars and students whose interest encompasses the origins of Christian (and Orthodox) liturgy, the Old Testament, early Christianity, Jewish Christian relations, Platonism and the origins of Islam will find this book a hugely rewarding source of information and new ideas.

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