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Overturning the tables

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  • Bob Schacht
    Old-timer (i.e., participant on the old CrossTalk list years ago) Austin Meredith , a Quaker historian, wrote to me with ... So, to
    Message 1 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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      Old-timer (i.e., participant on the old CrossTalk list years ago) Austin
      Meredith <Ashley_Meredith@...>, a Quaker historian, wrote to me with
      the following comment/question, which he was unable to post to the list:

      >The discussion that is going on among Quakers here, about the significance
      >of the story in the gospels about the overturning of the tables of the
      >moneychangers, ... it becomes very relevant that whatever Jesus's act in
      >regard to the temple may have been, it amounted only to an ineffective act
      >of protest -- after which the practices at the temple continued as they
      >had been.


      >The topic I desired to post about, just recently, was the "overturning of
      >the tables of the moneychangers" story in the gospels. We need to ask a
      >question.
      >
      >The question we need to ask is about the nature of the evidences that
      >exist for this story. We have heard that there were moneychangers in the
      >outercourtyard, and we have heard that their function was the trading of
      >coins bearing images, that could not be offered in sacrifice, for coins
      >that were acceptable in sacrifice. We need to know whether this
      >information about moneychangers and moneychanging is entirely an
      >extrapolation from the scriptural accounts, of the "there must have been
      >moneychangers and moneychanging because the scripture says there was" --
      >or whether this information about moneychangers and moneychanging has
      >*independent attestation* in historical scholarship, evidence based on
      >non-scriptural sources. The reason why we are asking this question is that
      >in our discussions among ourselves, here in Providence, Rhode Island among
      >the Quakers, it has occurred to us that if the story in the gospels about
      >Jesus invading the great temple in Jerusalem and causing a commotion by
      >"overturning the tables of the moneychangers" has any basis in his actual
      >life trajectory, then it would seem that this guerilla theater must have
      >been a *singularly ineffective* gesture. Whatever temple practices were
      >being tolerated were practices that would have continued unabated, just as
      >soon as all the scattered coins had been picked up and the moneychanging
      >tables had been set back on their legs. --And this fact causes us to
      >wonder, what sort of attitude we ought to take toward symbolic gestures of
      >protest.

      So, to put things in order from my point of view,
      * Was the overturning of the tables event historical?
      * If historical, what was Jesus' frame of mind and intent, at least as
      it is presented? Was it merely a fit of anger, a bit of "guerilla theater,"
      or what?
      * Jesus' tactic, if I am using the word correctly, was to overturn the
      tables. But what, if any, was his strategy? That is, what was he trying to
      accomplish?
      * Was he really trying to reform commercial practices in the area
      in front of the Temple? If so, was the target of his reform the Roman
      ruling bureaucracy, or the Jewish establishment that authorized and
      regulated the transactions?
      * Was he really trying to get himself arrested, perhaps by
      establishing a reputation as a trouble-maker?
      * Or did he have some other purpose?
      Is there any evidence whatsoever that this tactic was successful in any
      way? Or was it, as Austin suggests, a "singularly ineffective" gesture, and
      that the practices at the temple continued as they had been?

      Bob Schacht
      University of Hawaii

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • jeff.krantz
      As a long time reader and infrequent poster to the group, I offer a response to Bob s questions, because this is a passage that s very dear to my heart. ...
      Message 2 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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        As a long time reader and infrequent poster to the group, I offer a
        response to Bob's questions, because this is a passage that's very
        dear to my heart.

        > * Was the overturning of the tables event historical?

        Given the danger of preserving this tradition in first century
        Palestine, it's difficult for me to imagine it being anything other
        than historical. Indeed, the difference in location between the
        Synoptics and the Fourth Gospel support this as something remembered,
        if altered.

        > * If historical, what was Jesus' frame of mind and intent, at
        least as
        > it is presented? Was it merely a fit of anger, a bit of "guerilla
        theater,"
        > or what?

        Though there may be anger in Jesus' "voice" as he overthrows the
        tables (or, as John has it, drives out the intended sacrificial
        victims) I believe firmly that his "frame of mind" was in fact what
        Mark interpreted it to be, "prophetic." Mark's intercalation of the
        story of the fig tree with the story of the Temple inevitably draws
        the reader to the quotation from Jeremiah (7:11) wherein the prophet
        proclaims the imminent destruction of the first temple. Jesus "sees"
        that there is no more "fruit" to be had from the old system of
        sacrifice (a long held theme in the prophetic tradition) and signifies
        its end, either by quoting Jeremiah and enacting the overthrow of the
        Temple system or by driving out it's intended victims.

        > * Jesus' tactic, if I am using the word correctly, was to
        overturn the
        > tables. But what, if any, was his strategy? That is, what was he
        trying to
        > accomplish?
        > * Was he really trying to reform commercial practices in the
        area
        > in front of the Temple? If so, was the target of his reform the Roman
        > ruling bureaucracy, or the Jewish establishment that authorized and
        > regulated the transactions?

        This question seems to miss the prophetic tone of the act altogether.
        If Jesus was acting as "prophet" he wasn't trying to accomplish or
        change anything, but proclaim something that God was already in the
        process of doing. Jesus didn't seek to reform, but proclaim the end
        of the system of sacrifice that "authorized and regulated" the
        exchange of victims.

        > * Was he really trying to get himself arrested, perhaps by
        > establishing a reputation as a trouble-maker?
        > * Or did he have some other purpose?
        > Is there any evidence whatsoever that this tactic was successful in any
        > way? Or was it, as Austin suggests, a "singularly ineffective"
        gesture, and
        > that the practices at the temple continued as they had been?

        I think that Jesus knew that by challenging one system of sacrifice,
        he would create the need for another sacrificial victim, which would
        indeed be himself. To suggest that this was ineffective because the
        system continued for a relatively short period of time (in terms of
        human history) seems shortsighted. His self-giving has continued to
        work through history to dismantle systems of victimage. It only
        requires a longer view of things to see just how effective what he did
        has been.

        Yours,

        Jeff Krantz
      • Jack Kilmon
        ... From: Bob Schacht To: CrossTalk Cc: Austin Meredith Sent: Monday, June
        Message 3 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Bob Schacht" <r_schacht@...>
          To: "CrossTalk" <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Cc: "Austin Meredith" <Ashley_Meredith@...>
          Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 4:26 AM
          Subject: [XTalk] Overturning the tables


          > Old-timer (i.e., participant on the old CrossTalk list years ago) Austin
          > Meredith <Ashley_Meredith@...>, a Quaker historian, wrote to me with
          > the following comment/question, which he was unable to post to the list:
          >
          >>The discussion that is going on among Quakers here, about the significance
          >>of the story in the gospels about the overturning of the tables of the
          >>moneychangers, ... it becomes very relevant that whatever Jesus's act in
          >>regard to the temple may have been, it amounted only to an ineffective act
          >>of protest -- after which the practices at the temple continued as they
          >>had been.
          >
          >
          >>The topic I desired to post about, just recently, was the "overturning of
          >>the tables of the moneychangers" story in the gospels. We need to ask a
          >>question.
          >>
          >>The question we need to ask is about the nature of the evidences that
          >>exist for this story. We have heard that there were moneychangers in the
          >>outercourtyard, and we have heard that their function was the trading of
          >>coins bearing images, that could not be offered in sacrifice, for coins
          >>that were acceptable in sacrifice. We need to know whether this
          >>information about moneychangers and moneychanging is entirely an
          >>extrapolation from the scriptural accounts, of the "there must have been
          >>moneychangers and moneychanging because the scripture says there was" --
          >>or whether this information about moneychangers and moneychanging has
          >>*independent attestation* in historical scholarship, evidence based on
          >>non-scriptural sources. The reason why we are asking this question is that
          >>in our discussions among ourselves, here in Providence, Rhode Island among
          >>the Quakers, it has occurred to us that if the story in the gospels about
          >>Jesus invading the great temple in Jerusalem and causing a commotion by
          >>"overturning the tables of the moneychangers" has any basis in his actual
          >>life trajectory, then it would seem that this guerilla theater must have
          >>been a *singularly ineffective* gesture. Whatever temple practices were
          >>being tolerated were practices that would have continued unabated, just as
          >>soon as all the scattered coins had been picked up and the moneychanging
          >>tables had been set back on their legs. --And this fact causes us to
          >>wonder, what sort of attitude we ought to take toward symbolic gestures of
          >>protest.
          >
          > So, to put things in order from my point of view,
          > * Was the overturning of the tables event historical?
          > * If historical, what was Jesus' frame of mind and intent, at least as
          > it is presented? Was it merely a fit of anger, a bit of "guerilla
          > theater,"
          > or what?
          > * Jesus' tactic, if I am using the word correctly, was to overturn the
          > tables. But what, if any, was his strategy? That is, what was he trying to
          > accomplish?
          > * Was he really trying to reform commercial practices in the area
          > in front of the Temple? If so, was the target of his reform the Roman
          > ruling bureaucracy, or the Jewish establishment that authorized and
          > regulated the transactions?
          > * Was he really trying to get himself arrested, perhaps by
          > establishing a reputation as a trouble-maker?
          > * Or did he have some other purpose?
          > Is there any evidence whatsoever that this tactic was successful in any
          > way? Or was it, as Austin suggests, a "singularly ineffective" gesture,
          > and
          > that the practices at the temple continued as they had been?
          >
          > Bob Schacht
          > University of Hawaii

          I think what looks like a simple and "ineffectual" act is quite complex in
          its motivation and impact. Sit back. This is going to be lengthy and those
          elements from the Gospels are those I consider historical.
          Accordingly it is important to look at the political environment surrounding
          the temple and the operation of the temple under Roman oversight. The
          temple was the biggest bank in the ancient world. How then did the Romans
          get their hands on some of the temple wealth? I think we have to go to Rome
          to set the scene. That scene depends on whether the temple "cleansing"
          happened in 30 CE or 33 CE. An important event occurred after 30 and before
          33 that could have had reverberations that reached Judea and the
          temple...the "outing" of Sejanus to Tiberius and Sejanus' trial and
          execution. It is almost certain, IMO, that Sejanus had appointed Pontius
          Pilatus as prefect of Judea in 26 CE. It was in 26 CE that Tiberius
          withdrew from Rome to Capris and left Sejanus in charge of the Empire and it
          was in 26 CE that Pilatus became prefect. When Pilatus arrived in Judea he
          found Caiaphas (Yahosef bar Qayafa) who had been High priest for 8 years,
          appointed previously by Valerius Gratus in 18 CE. Caiaphas would remain HP
          for the entire ten years of Pilatus' tenure amounting to 18 years in the
          office. His father-in-law, who had preceded him, Annas served 9 years and
          these two men who seem to have shared power in Jesus' time racked up 27
          years between them when the previous High Priests and those serving after
          them held office for a few months or 1-3 years.

          What was Annas and Caiaphas doing "right" in regard tothe Romans to whom
          they owed their positions? Why did Caiaphas say (in John 18:14) that "it
          was expedient that ONE man should die FOR the people?"

          Annas and Caiaphas controlled the ancillary businesses on the Temple porch
          (animal selling, money changing) and corruption was rampant. They derived a
          "commission" from them and sharing that revenue with Pilatus who, in turn,
          was "greasing" Sejanus, would have been inevitable. Sejanus was greedy and
          power hungry, situating himself to become Emperor. This takes money.
          Paying the Praetorian Guards...of whom he was Commander...and who were
          critical to power transition, was expensive. Caiaphas had found a way to
          purchase peace for the Judean people and extract leniency from a cruel and
          greedy Pilatus and it had been working well for twelve or fifteen years.
          Since history and perceptions of history almost always get things wrong,
          Caiaphas may not have been a bad guy after all. In Rome, Sejanus' intrigues
          and manipulations were "outed" to Tiberius by Antonia after whom the
          Fortress Antonia was named. Sejanus and his followers were executed in 31
          CE.

          It would stand to reason that things would have been very tense for
          Sejanus-appointed Pilatus during this time. I think doing "historical
          Jesus" research outside of the socio-political context of Rome, other than
          cursorily, is a mistake.

          Now to the "Temple Cleansing." Pesach was the most tense time for a Roman
          Prefect (a military position) in Judea. It was a time when the population
          of Jerusalem swelled to a few hundred thousand, all celebrating freedom from
          oppression. The Roman Prefect would move from his plush digs in Caesarea to
          Fortress Antonia to be ready to command buttressed legions and auxiliaries
          if the slightest hint of civil unrest occurred. This same tense situation
          is underscored when Pilatus prematurely moved against Samaritans in 36..it
          got him fired.

          Pesach is approaching and along comes a Galilean sage who sees himself as
          the Daniel-Enochian bar nash heralding in the malkutha d'alaha. Galileans
          consider themselves as an "us" versus the corrupt "them" which were the
          "Judeans" (temple elite) and Jesus had his hissy fit on the temple porch,
          overturned tables and called it m'arta d'listaye (Den of thieves). What was
          being threatened was the arrangement between Caiaphas, Pilatus and the
          security of the general populace if others followed Jesus' lead and the
          tension of Pilatus' tight spring over Jerusalem was released which would
          have alerted a reclusive Tiberius no longer having his news censored and
          filtered through Sejanus.

          It was for this act and no other, IMO, that Caiaphas, Annas and perhaps even
          Pilatus, planned the arrest and execution of Jesus.

          This historical context is also speculative but all we can do is place any
          event in the socio-political arena in which it occurs and too often the most
          important arena (Rome) is forgotten in HJ research often focussing on
          Pilatus alone.

          Jack


          Jack Kilmon
          San Antonio, TX
        • RSBrenchley@aol.com
          Message 4 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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            <<We have heard that there were moneychangers in the
            >outercourtyard, and we have heard that their function was the trading of
            >coins bearing images, that could not be offered in sacrifice, for coins
            >that were acceptable in sacrifice. We need to know whether this
            >information about moneychangers and moneychanging is entirely an
            >extrapolation from the scriptural accounts, of the "there must have been
            >moneychangers and moneychanging because the scripture says there was" --
            >or whether this information about moneychangers and moneychanging has
            >*independent attestation* in historical scholarship, evidence based on
            >non-scriptural sources. >>

            The temple tax had to be paid in shekels of Tyre, since that was the only
            pure silver currency available at the time. Other silver currencies in the
            region were debased after the Romans arrived. The shekel was, of course, a weight
            of silver, and when coins began to be struck, they substituted the
            tetradrachm, which they called the shekel, as it was at or just above the relevant
            weight. Pure silver was needed, presumably, because the tax had to be paid in
            that metal, and a debased coin would have contained less of it. The coins did,
            in fact, bear an image of Melkart. The Jews had no source of silver, and
            unless Herod took over the minting of the shekels, as has been suggested, they
            never minted silver between the ending of the Yehud currency during the period
            of Ptolemaic rule, and the minting of the shekels of Israel during the First
            Revolt.

            The moneychangers at the Temple would have been responsible for changing
            other currencies into shekels, and a charge was made for this. If a shekel had
            to be changed into half-shekels, the charge was also payable for this. Hoard
            evidence suggests the charge was about 9%. Pilgrims would also have had to buy
            animals for sacrifice, and doubtless a 'spotless' lamb cost more than an
            ordinary one. The norm in the ancient world was for the priests who ran a great
            temple to do very nicely out of it, and the Sadducees certainly don't appear
            to have stinted themselves. Doubtless that was what Jesus' protest was about,
            if we can trust the reported allegation about a den of thieves.

            Regards,

            Robert Brenchley,
            Birmingham UK







            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Matson, Mark (Academic)
            OK, I ll take a stab. See below Mark A. Matson Academic Dean Milligan College http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm Bob Schacht wrote ...
            Message 5 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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              OK, I'll take a stab. See below



              Mark A. Matson

              Academic Dean

              Milligan College

              http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm



              Bob Schacht wrote

              >

              > So, to put things in order from my point of view,

              > * Was the overturning of the tables event historical?



              By historical, you mean did Jesus do something in the temple that was
              disruptive? I would say yes. And my main argument is that we have two
              moderately different versions (and used to different purposes) in John
              and the Synoptics. I do take John as independent, but here especially I
              think there is some good cause for that. A paper I gave at SBL years
              ago (see in the 1992 Seminar Papers) argued for such independence, and
              for historicity.



              > * If historical, what was Jesus' frame of mind and intent, at
              least

              > as

              > it is presented? Was it merely a fit of anger, a bit of "guerilla

              > theater,"

              > or what?



              Again referencing my paper, I argued that John makes it even more clear
              (what becomes only implied by working backward from the charges leveled
              against Jesus at his trial) that Jesus was predicting the destruction of
              the temple. Thus the action was meant primarily as a symbolic act
              anticipating the apocalyptic end of the age -- the end of this temple,
              to be replaced by the new temple from heaven. It was prophetic, acted
              out prophecy. I like your word "theater"... but would replace
              "guerilla" with "prophetic."



              > * Jesus' tactic, if I am using the word correctly, was to overturn

              > the

              > tables. But what, if any, was his strategy? That is, what was he
              trying

              > to

              > accomplish?



              To raise a ruckus. To create a sense of destruction. To draw attention.
              That's all. It must have been insignificant in the large temple
              precincts.



              > * Was he really trying to reform commercial practices in the

              > area

              > in front of the Temple? If so, was the target of his reform the Roman

              > ruling bureaucracy, or the Jewish establishment that authorized and

              > regulated the transactions?



              NO. What problem with commercial transactions? To sell animals? Why? -
              they would be needed for pilgrims from distant regions. To trade money?
              What is the problem there? Overcharge? - but there is no mention of
              overcharge or taking advantage of people in the text!!!



              Moreover, the "money changing" was not to remove images from coins -
              Tyrean coinage also had images on them (I had heard this argument about
              images on coins before too, but it just ain't so. Tyrean coinage was
              used because it was "sound" money).





              > * Was he really trying to get himself arrested, perhaps by

              > establishing a reputation as a trouble-maker?



              The latter (but then I have come to see John's chronology as more
              likely).





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Jeffrey B. Gibson
              ... Your evidence for this is what? ... Den of thieves is Jeremiah language (as is much else in the story of the fig tree/temple action/fig tree episode) and
              Message 6 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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                RSBrenchley@... wrote:
                > The moneychangers at the Temple would have been responsible for changing
                > other currencies into shekels, and a charge was made for this. If a shekel had
                > to be changed into half-shekels, the charge was also payable for this. Hoard
                > evidence suggests the charge was about 9%. Pilgrims would also have had to buy
                > animals for sacrifice, and doubtless a 'spotless' lamb cost more than an
                > ordinary one.

                Your evidence for this is what?
                > The norm in the ancient world was for the priests who ran a great
                > temple to do very nicely out of it, and the Sadducees certainly don't appear
                > to have stinted themselves. Doubtless that was what Jesus' protest was about,
                > if we can trust the reported allegation about a den of thieves.

                "Den of thieves" is Jeremiah language (as is much else in the story of
                the fig tree/temple action/fig tree episode) and it signifies a place
                where "thieves" go to rest up _after_ they have engaged in injustice,
                */not/* where the perpetrate it. (see Jeremiah 7) So the allegation
                that the Temple authorities have turned the temple into such a "den" ,
                even if historical, *is not, and cannot* *be used as*, * evidence*
                that the overseers of the Temple were engaged in economic exploitation,
                let alone that decrying economic exploitation was what lay at the
                center of Jesus' temple action..

                Jeffrey

                --
                Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
                1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
                Chicago, Illinois
                e-mail jgibson000@...



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                ... Robert, In addition to my previous comments, I d also like to ask not only why any pilgrim intent on offering a lamb in sacrifice would buy an ordinary
                Message 7 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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                  RSBrenchley@... wrote:
                  > Pilgrims would also have had to buy
                  > animals for sacrifice, and doubtless a 'spotless' lamb cost more than an
                  > ordinary one.
                  Robert,

                  In addition to my previous comments, I'd also like to ask not only why
                  any pilgrim intent on offering a lamb in sacrifice would buy an
                  "ordinary lamb" (what ever that means) when only "spotless"ones were
                  acceptable and accepted, but what it is that makes you think (as you
                  seem to do) that there were two types of lambs (i.e., "ordinary" and
                  "spotless") offered for sale in the Temple?

                  By the way, thanks for the roadworks on the M1 between the Warwick exit
                  and the Birmingham roundabout. That 16 mile journey, undertaken of
                  necessity when I missed my intended turn off to Warwick, took me tow
                  hours to make!

                  Jeffrey

                  --
                  Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
                  1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
                  Chicago, Illinois
                  e-mail jgibson000@...
                • peterson@austingrad.edu
                  ... Jeffrey, I don t have a particular dog in this hunt, but I don t see why we should suppose that the meaning of den of thieves in its original context in
                  Message 8 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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                    > Jeffrey Gibson wrote:

                    > "Den of thieves" is Jeremiah language (as is much else in the story of
                    > the fig tree/temple action/fig tree episode) and it signifies a place
                    > where "thieves" go to rest up _after_ they have engaged in injustice,
                    > */not/* where the perpetrate it. (see Jeremiah 7) So the allegation
                    > that the Temple authorities have turned the temple into such a "den" ,
                    > even if historical, *is not, and cannot* *be used as*, * evidence*
                    > that the overseers of the Temple were engaged in economic exploitation,
                    > let alone that decrying economic exploitation was what lay at the
                    > center of Jesus' temple action..

                    Jeffrey,

                    I don't have a particular dog in this hunt, but I don't see why we should
                    suppose that the meaning of "den of thieves" in its original context in
                    Jeremiah determines what Jesus or the Synoptics meant by their
                    appropriation of it. What makes you so certain that it does?

                    Jeff Peterson
                    Professor of New Testament
                    Austin Graduate School of Theology
                    Austin, Texas
                  • Loren Rosson
                    ... I agree that den doesn t signal where the injustice itself is perpetrated, but it can signify something more than a resting place for the
                    Message 9 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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                      Jeffrey Gibson wrote:

                      > "Den of thieves" is Jeremiah language (as is much
                      > else in the story of
                      > the fig tree/temple action/fig tree episode) and
                      > it signifies a place
                      > where "thieves" go to rest up _after_ they have
                      > engaged in injustice,
                      > */not/* where the perpetrate it. (see Jeremiah 7)
                      > So the allegation
                      > that the Temple authorities have turned the temple
                      > into such a "den" ,
                      > even if historical, *is not, and cannot* *be
                      > used as*, * evidence*
                      > that the overseers of the Temple were engaged in
                      > economic exploitation,
                      > let alone that decrying economic exploitation was
                      > what lay at the center of Jesus' temple action.

                      I agree that "den" doesn't signal where the injustice
                      itself is perpetrated, but it can signify something
                      more than a resting place for the bandits/robbers.
                      It's also a storage for the ill-gotten gain of the
                      bandits/robbers (as Malina & Rohrbaugh suggest).

                      My own interpretation of the temple incident is
                      closest to that of Mark Matson. Jesus was operating
                      out of a Jewish apocalyptic framework. As Mark wrote,

                      "Jesus was predicting the destruction of the temple.
                      Thus the action was meant primarily as a symbolic act
                      anticipating the apocalyptic end of the age -- the end
                      of this temple, to be replaced by the new temple from
                      heaven."

                      At the same time (per Malina/Rohrbaugh), I don't have
                      any problem buying the idea that Jesus was judging the
                      temple as an institution of systematic exploitation
                      with the term "den of robbers". (Social critique and
                      apocalyptic hope often go hand in hand.) But he wasn't
                      trying to reform it, and wouldn't have had any
                      problems with commercial activities in and of
                      themselves. As Mark notes (and others like Ed Sanders
                      have emphasized repeatedly), the commercial activities
                      were obviously necessary for pilgrims. And no one was
                      overcharging or short-changing people on the spot.

                      Loren Rosson III
                      Nashua NH
                      http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com
                    • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                      Jeffrey and Jeff: I tend to agree with Jeffrey, though I guess you (jeff) could (and did!) question whether that reading of this Jeremiah citation should be
                      Message 10 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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                        Jeffrey and Jeff:

                        I tend to agree with Jeffrey, though I guess you (jeff) could (and did!) question whether that reading of this Jeremiah citation should be assumed as known by Mark and Matthew ... Not sure on a simple reading that there is any sure way to settle it, except ..... (there's always an except, isn't there?)....

                        Den of thieves here (sphlaion lhistwn) is a little curious if we are talking about simply a situation where the temple is used as an opportune place to fleece the poor pilgrims. My concern here is the word translated "thief" (lhisths). This word has far more of a sense of violence -- a brigand, a highwayman, an armed insurrectionist (note the people crucified with Jesus are such -- no simple pickpocket is crucifiied). The guerilla or insurrectionist concept -- a violent criminal -- makes better sense if Jeffrey's construct is imagined.

                        And that is why (if I remember rightly) Ed Sanders argued for this. Of course since I tend to drink deeply of the Sanders kool-aid, even without knowing it, I happily agree. But sometimes (usually) Ed was right.

                        Mark A. Matson
                        Academic Dean
                        Milligan College
                        http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm

                        ________________________________

                        From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com on behalf of peterson@...
                        Sent: Mon 6/2/2008 7:11 PM
                        To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re:Overturning the tables



                        > Jeffrey Gibson wrote:

                        > "Den of thieves" is Jeremiah language (as is much else in the story of
                        > the fig tree/temple action/fig tree episode) and it signifies a place
                        > where "thieves" go to rest up _after_ they have engaged in injustice,
                        > */not/* where the perpetrate it. (see Jeremiah 7) So the allegation
                        > that the Temple authorities have turned the temple into such a "den" ,
                        > even if historical, *is not, and cannot* *be used as*, * evidence*
                        > that the overseers of the Temple were engaged in economic exploitation,
                        > let alone that decrying economic exploitation was what lay at the
                        > center of Jesus' temple action..

                        Jeffrey,

                        I don't have a particular dog in this hunt, but I don't see why we should
                        suppose that the meaning of "den of thieves" in its original context in
                        Jeremiah determines what Jesus or the Synoptics meant by their
                        appropriation of it. What makes you so certain that it does?

                        Jeff Peterson
                        Professor of New Testament
                        Austin Graduate School of Theology
                        Austin, Texas


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                      • Jack Kilmon
                        ... From: Jeffrey B. Gibson To: Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 5:53 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re:Overturning
                        Message 11 of 24 , Jun 2, 2008
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                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: "Jeffrey B. Gibson" <jgibson000@...>
                          To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 5:53 PM
                          Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re:Overturning the tables


                          > RSBrenchley@... wrote:
                          >> Pilgrims would also have had to buy
                          >> animals for sacrifice, and doubtless a 'spotless' lamb cost more than an
                          >> ordinary one.
                          > Robert,
                          >
                          > In addition to my previous comments, I'd also like to ask not only why
                          > any pilgrim intent on offering a lamb in sacrifice would buy an
                          > "ordinary lamb" (what ever that means) when only "spotless"ones were
                          > acceptable and accepted, but what it is that makes you think (as you
                          > seem to do) that there were two types of lambs (i.e., "ordinary" and
                          > "spotless") offered for sale in the Temple?


                          The animal sacrifices were organized into "Holy" and "Less Holy." The Most
                          Holy were slain on the north side of the altar and the less holy on the
                          south side. The priests got the skins of the most holy and the skins of the
                          less holy were given to the offerer. ALL animal sacrifices were to be free
                          of the 73 types of blemishes but I wonder if Robert was referring to "less
                          Holy" as "ordinary" but still blemish free. "Less Holy" was a type of sin
                          offering.

                          Jack


                          JackKilmon
                          San Antonio, TX
                        • David Cavanagh
                          ... So it is possible that (as N.T. Wright has argued) Jesus was critical of the temple because it had become the nerve-centre of Jewish nationalist
                          Message 12 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                            Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:
                            >
                            >
                            > Den of thieves here (sphlaion lhistwn) is a little curious if we are
                            > talking about simply a situation where the temple is used as an
                            > opportune place to fleece the poor pilgrims. My concern here is the
                            > word translated "thief" (lhisths). This word has far more of a sense
                            > of violence -- a brigand, a highwayman, an armed insurrectionist (note
                            > the people crucified with Jesus are such -- no simple pickpocket is
                            > crucifiied). The guerilla or insurrectionist concept -- a violent
                            > criminal -- makes better sense if Jeffrey's construct is imagined.
                            >









                            So it is possible that (as N.T. Wright has argued) Jesus was critical of
                            the temple because it had become the nerve-centre of Jewish nationalist
                            insurrection (Josephus' favourite term for the insurrectionist bands is
                            "brigands")?

                            David Cavanagh
                            Major (The Salvation Army)
                            Naples (Italy)



                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                            ... greedy ... in ... How do you know this? Do you have references for this, or is this historical imagination? I have heard this or some similar statement so
                            Message 13 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                              Jack Kilmon wrote:

                              >

                              > Annas and Caiaphas controlled the ancillary businesses on the Temple

                              > porch

                              > (animal selling, money changing) and corruption was rampant. They

                              > derived a

                              > "commission" from them and sharing that revenue with Pilatus who, in

                              > turn,

                              > was "greasing" Sejanus, would have been inevitable. Sejanus was
                              greedy

                              > and

                              > power hungry, situating himself to become Emperor. This takes money.

                              > Paying the Praetorian Guards...of whom he was Commander...and who were

                              > critical to power transition, was expensive. Caiaphas had found a way

                              > to

                              > purchase peace for the Judean people and extract leniency from a cruel

                              > and

                              > greedy Pilatus and it had been working well for twelve or fifteen

                              > years.

                              > Since history and perceptions of history almost always get things

                              > wrong,

                              > Caiaphas may not have been a bad guy after all. In Rome, Sejanus'

                              > intrigues

                              > and manipulations were "outed" to Tiberius by Antonia after whom the

                              > Fortress Antonia was named. Sejanus and his followers were executed
                              in

                              > 31

                              > CE.



                              How do you know this? Do you have references for this, or is this
                              historical imagination?

                              I have heard this or some similar statement so often, yet I have yet to
                              find any hard evidence for it.



                              I am not convinced that, even if the high priest was there by the will
                              of the political authorities, they were inherently corrupt. Maybe. But
                              I would want some evidence.





                              Mark A. Matson

                              Academic Dean

                              Milligan College

                              http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm



                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Jack Kilmon
                              ... From: To: Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 6:11 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re:Overturning the tables ...
                              Message 14 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                ----- Original Message -----
                                From: <peterson@...>
                                To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                                Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 6:11 PM
                                Subject: Re: [XTalk] Re:Overturning the tables


                                >> Jeffrey Gibson wrote:
                                >
                                >> "Den of thieves" is Jeremiah language (as is much else in the story of
                                >> the fig tree/temple action/fig tree episode) and it signifies a place
                                >> where "thieves" go to rest up _after_ they have engaged in injustice,
                                >> */not/* where the perpetrate it. (see Jeremiah 7) So the allegation
                                >> that the Temple authorities have turned the temple into such a "den" ,
                                >> even if historical, *is not, and cannot* *be used as*, * evidence*
                                >> that the overseers of the Temple were engaged in economic exploitation,
                                >> let alone that decrying economic exploitation was what lay at the
                                >> center of Jesus' temple action..
                                >
                                > Jeffrey,
                                >
                                > I don't have a particular dog in this hunt, but I don't see why we should
                                > suppose that the meaning of "den of thieves" in its original context in
                                > Jeremiah determines what Jesus or the Synoptics meant by their
                                > appropriation of it. What makes you so certain that it does?
                                >
                                > Jeff Peterson
                                > Professor of New Testament
                                > Austin Graduate School of Theology
                                > Austin, Texas


                                There are other sources for rampant corruption at the temple. When one
                                considers that it was the biggest bank and had the largest revenue stream in
                                the ancient world, I usually consider Jesus' words in context with his other
                                aphorisms to look for the historical. When he said "Ayka den d'hawe pagra,
                                thaman yitkanshun nishrea"
                                (Wherever there is a carcass,there the vultures gather) the vultures and the
                                "den of thieves" were the same.

                                Jack


                                Jack Kilmon
                                San Antonio,TX
                              • James Crossley
                                Just a couple of comments on issues that I think have been missed but I could be wrong (I ve just checked email and had millions). The DSS (e.g. Hab.
                                Message 15 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                  Just a couple of comments on issues that I think have
                                  been missed but I could be wrong (I've just checked
                                  email and had millions).

                                  The DSS (e.g. Hab. Commentary) have plenty of polemic
                                  against the Temple being corrupt, hording wealth,
                                  being nasty to poor etc. as do rabbinic traditions.
                                  Now, we don't have to say this means the Temple really
                                  was corrupt etc but the *perception* that it was
                                  corrupt was certainly present. People may have been
                                  utterly deluded for all I know about the Temple system
                                  being corrupt but they thought it was so it is
                                  possible Jesus or whoever could think such a thing
                                  too.

                                  Another important texts in relation to perceived
                                  exploitation and sacrifices is this: 'A pair of birds
                                  in Jerusalem went up in price to a golden denar. Said
                                  Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, “By the sanctuary! I shall
                                  not rest tonight until they be at silver denars.”'
                                  (Mishnah Keritot 1.7)

                                  I make no claim for historicity etc. but in line with
                                  this thought is it not possible for someone else to
                                  have concerns that poor people could afford sacrifices
                                  (acknowledging the issue of perception as ever)?

                                  On the issue of symbolic destruction, yes, it could be
                                  combined with a critique of corruption as many people
                                  have pointed out. Yet there are still some worrying
                                  things about the 'symbolic' view. I may be wrong but
                                  when prophetic actions in the Hebrew Bible are carried
                                  out don't we get lengthy and explicit explanations by
                                  the prophet as to what they mean? If this is fair,
                                  then we don't really get any explanation in Mk 11,
                                  certainly not by Jesus. Moreover, would it be possible
                                  to turn tables over without it being a symbolic
                                  action? I mean he turns over tables: it might be
                                  little more than anger and concern.

                                  For all I know Jesus may well have thought the Temple
                                  would be destroyed but turning over tables wouldn't be
                                  the clearest way of showing this. At least he could
                                  have given us an explanation if he meant this!

                                  Anyway, apologies for not interacting precisely with
                                  people and being far too hasty but I thought a couple
                                  of points may have been overlooked (though in my haste
                                  I may well be wrong).

                                  James Crossley,
                                  Dept of Biblical Studies,
                                  University of Sheffield, UK





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                                • peterson@austingrad.edu
                                  James Crossley wrote: [W]hen prophetic actions in the Hebrew Bible are carried ... James, Seems to me the attentive reader gets plenty of explanation
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                    James Crossley wrote:

                                    [W]hen prophetic actions in the Hebrew Bible are carried
                                    > out don't we get lengthy and explicit explanations by
                                    > the prophet as to what they mean? If this is fair,
                                    > then we don't really get any explanation in Mk 11,
                                    > certainly not by Jesus. Moreover, would it be possible
                                    > to turn tables over without it being a symbolic
                                    > action? I mean he turns over tables: it might be
                                    > little more than anger and concern.
                                    >

                                    James,

                                    Seems to me the attentive reader gets plenty of explanation surrounding
                                    the temple disruption in Mark. Introducing it is the welcome of Jesus as
                                    the bringer of the renewed Davidic kingdom (11:9–10) and therefore, as
                                    Donald Juel showed in Messiah and Temple, builder of the eschatological
                                    temple. The parabolic cursing of the fig tree, surrounding the temple
                                    demonstration, portends a judgment on such trees as do not yield fruit
                                    (11:12–14, 20–25). The demonstration itself is accompanied by a scriptural
                                    tag that pronounces on those presently administering the temple in
                                    prospect of God's eschatological intentions for it (n.b. KLHQHSETAI,
                                    11:17), and this is amplified in the parable of the Wicked Tenants
                                    (12:1ff, which supplies the implicit answer to 11:28's question "By what
                                    authority do you do these things?" -- i.e., such things as the temple
                                    demonstration) and the full chapter given over to discussion of the fate
                                    of the temple when God's kingdom comes (chap. 13).

                                    No one can fault Mark for not providing lengthy explanation of Jesus'
                                    prophetic sign; following the Marcan model of parabolic teaching that is
                                    disclosed in the course of Jesus' ministry, the explanation grows more and
                                    more explicit. Seems to me the prophetic sign is easily the best pattern
                                    in which to understand the temple action.

                                    Jeff Peterson
                                    Austin, Texas

                                    Jeff Peterson
                                  • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                                    ... Thanks for this. Yes, I do recall DSS being very critical of the priesthood and especially the Wicked Priest. And of the charges laid against them by the
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                      James Crossley wrote:



                                      > The DSS (e.g. Hab. Commentary) have plenty of polemic

                                      > against the Temple being corrupt, hording wealth,

                                      > being nasty to poor etc. as do rabbinic traditions.

                                      > Now, we don't have to say this means the Temple really

                                      > was corrupt etc but the *perception* that it was

                                      > corrupt was certainly present. People may have been

                                      > utterly deluded for all I know about the Temple system

                                      > being corrupt but they thought it was so it is

                                      > possible Jesus or whoever could think such a thing

                                      > too.



                                      Thanks for this. Yes, I do recall DSS being very critical of the
                                      priesthood and especially the Wicked Priest. And of the charges laid
                                      against them by the DSS sect was that they plundered the poor. I guess
                                      my tendency has been to (a) somewhat discount the criticisms of DSS, in
                                      part because they are part of an attempt to legitimate their separatist
                                      ideology, and (b) because "plundering the poor" still does not point to
                                      some issues about trading in the temple.



                                      But, having said that, this certainly would point to that issue and is a
                                      fair rejoinder.



                                      > Another important texts in relation to perceived

                                      > exploitation and sacrifices is this: 'A pair of birds

                                      > in Jerusalem went up in price to a golden denar. Said

                                      > Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, "By the sanctuary! I shall

                                      > not rest tonight until they be at silver denars."'

                                      > (Mishnah Keritot 1.7)



                                      Here I have a bit harder time connecting this to any problem in the
                                      temple. The main speaker here, Simeon b. Gamaliel, was a rabbi circa
                                      125-150 CE (I think). Thus this was post temple, and so the cost of
                                      birds could not have involved any temple trading. And in fact, is there
                                      really any idea that this is because of "price fixing" or is it simply
                                      inflation? But if Simeon b. Gamaliel is speaking in real time (" I
                                      shall not rest until...."), then it is not temple or sacrifice issues.





                                      >

                                      > __________________________________________________________

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                                      Mark A. Matson

                                      Academic Dean

                                      Milligan College

                                      http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm



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                                    • sdavies0
                                      ... If we take a somewhat common-sense view of the situation, we have a man come up from Galilee on Passover with a group of associates. They are going to need
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                        > James Crossley wrote:
                                        >
                                        > [W]hen prophetic actions in the Hebrew Bible are carried
                                        > > out don't we get lengthy and explicit explanations by
                                        > > the prophet as to what they mean? If this is fair,
                                        > > then we don't really get any explanation in Mk 11,
                                        > > certainly not by Jesus. Moreover, would it be possible
                                        > > to turn tables over without it being a symbolic
                                        > > action? I mean he turns over tables: it might be
                                        > > little more than anger and concern.

                                        If we take a somewhat common-sense view of the situation, we have
                                        a man come up from Galilee on Passover with a group of associates.
                                        They are going to need at least one lamb.
                                        Where will they get a lamb? At the
                                        place of lamb-sellers in the vicinity of the temple. Man goes there
                                        and, next thing we know, there is a hullabaloo and he is accusing
                                        the folks selling lambs of being like a den of thieves. What would we
                                        think is going on if we don't know this is Christ? We would assume
                                        that the man is enraged at the price he is being charged for a lamb.
                                        Or would there be two lambs? How many lambs for a party of twenty-
                                        some (13 men at least and "many women?")?

                                        This is, I suspect, what happened. It is possible that he would be
                                        arrested for the ruckus.But crucifixion? No.
                                        Possibly, in retrospect, his followers would have read something
                                        symbolic into his actions.

                                        I note also that if Jesus were symbolically prophecying the
                                        destruction of the temple, as modern scholarship tends to think, the
                                        use of his predictions as a vaticinium ex eventu, which grounds the
                                        scholarly dating of Mark, would no longer apply. If he prophecied the
                                        destruction of the temple in Mark 11, surely what he says in Mark 13
                                        would be historically appropriate. But if we do conclude that Jesus
                                        predicted the destruction of the temple, why not date Mark at 50 AD?

                                        > The parabolic cursing of the fig tree, surrounding the temple
                                        > demonstration, portends a judgment on such trees as do not yield
                                        > fruit (11:12–14, 20–25).

                                        In my visit to Bethlehem on Holy Thursday I saw a fig tree in leaf,
                                        as they say, and thought of this passage. The fig tree had barely
                                        begun to leaf out. But a little web research discoversthis excellent
                                        illustrated site that proves that there should have been figs on Holy
                                        Thursday. It may be a question of which species of fig we are talking
                                        about.

                                        http://www.bibletrack.org/notes/resource/misc/Figs.html

                                        > following the Marcan model of parabolic teaching that is
                                        > disclosed in the course of Jesus' ministry, the explanation grows
                                        more and
                                        > more explicit. Seems to me the prophetic sign is easily the best
                                        pattern
                                        > in which to understand the temple action.
                                        >
                                        > Jeff Peterson

                                        I think the best explanation of Jesus' action is anger over the price
                                        of lambs. The idea of "concern" for others maybe, secondarily. Often
                                        people become angry on their own behalf about something or other and
                                        then claim to be acting on principle in defense of others. Class-
                                        action, so to speak.

                                        The Markan notion of parabolic teaching could well account for the
                                        description of the action as it appears in Mark's gospel, but that
                                        doesn't have any bearing on Jesus' own intentions, if any... Anger at
                                        high prices doesn't involve "intentions" particularly.

                                        Stevan Davies
                                      • Gordon Raynal
                                        James, Thanks for this helpful note (also to Jeffrey for his good words about what den really signifies). See below for some thoughts. ... Historically
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                          James,

                                          Thanks for this helpful note (also to Jeffrey for his good words
                                          about what "den" really signifies). See below for some thoughts.
                                          On Jun 3, 2008, at 11:23 AM, James Crossley wrote:

                                          > Just a couple of comments on issues that I think have
                                          > been missed but I could be wrong (I've just checked
                                          > email and had millions).
                                          >
                                          > The DSS (e.g. Hab. Commentary) have plenty of polemic
                                          > against the Temple being corrupt, hording wealth,
                                          > being nasty to poor etc. as do rabbinic traditions.
                                          > Now, we don't have to say this means the Temple really
                                          > was corrupt etc but the *perception* that it was
                                          > corrupt was certainly present. People may have been
                                          > utterly deluded for all I know about the Temple system
                                          > being corrupt but they thought it was so it is
                                          > possible Jesus or whoever could think such a thing
                                          > too.
                                          >
                                          > Another important texts in relation to perceived
                                          > exploitation and sacrifices is this: 'A pair of birds
                                          > in Jerusalem went up in price to a golden denar. Said
                                          > Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, “By the sanctuary! I shall
                                          > not rest tonight until they be at silver denars.”'
                                          > (Mishnah Keritot 1.7)
                                          >
                                          > I make no claim for historicity etc. but in line with
                                          > this thought is it not possible for someone else to
                                          > have concerns that poor people could afford sacrifices
                                          > (acknowledging the issue of perception as ever)?
                                          >
                                          > On the issue of symbolic destruction, yes, it could be
                                          > combined with a critique of corruption as many people
                                          > have pointed out. Yet there are still some worrying
                                          > things about the 'symbolic' view. I may be wrong but
                                          > when prophetic actions in the Hebrew Bible are carried
                                          > out don't we get lengthy and explicit explanations by
                                          > the prophet as to what they mean? If this is fair,
                                          > then we don't really get any explanation in Mk 11,
                                          > certainly not by Jesus. Moreover, would it be possible
                                          > to turn tables over without it being a symbolic
                                          > action? I mean he turns over tables: it might be
                                          > little more than anger and concern.

                                          Historically speaking, all this business about Jesus (in the 20's/
                                          30's) foreseeing the Temple's destruction and being all worked up
                                          about it, is a bit much methinks. Now per plenty of earlier
                                          discussions on this issue on the list, I don't think the "temple
                                          tantrum" is a historical report, but rather a Markan creation that
                                          was a key part of the construction of the PN written after the fact.
                                          But back to the earlier era, it would seem from the Acts story
                                          telling and from Paul and from that snippet in Josephus about Jesus'
                                          brother, James, that faithfulness to the Temple (and hence its core
                                          Torah mandated practices) was entirely important to the earliest
                                          Jesus folk. And then, just in terms of the story telling within the
                                          Markan PN, on "Palm Sunday," he has this "tantrum" (Mark 11:15ff),
                                          then a day or two later he commends "the poor widow" for her model
                                          giving! Seems to me that Jesus would have said, "she's really
                                          wasting her money," if he really thought either the Temple operations
                                          were either soon to be at their end or so corrupt as to not being
                                          worth supporting at all. Theologically these texts make sense as a
                                          part of the Markan and later story telling when living in the actual
                                          situation of the loss of the Temple. But historically in
                                          relationship to Jesus and then at least the earliest Jerusalem
                                          followers this "tantrum" story doesn't make sense and all this
                                          "theorizing" as to motives and meanings Jesus had are just
                                          interesting speculations.

                                          Gordon Raynal

                                          Inman, SC
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > For all I know Jesus may well have thought the Temple
                                          > would be destroyed but turning over tables wouldn't be
                                          > the clearest way of showing this. At least he could
                                          > have given us an explanation if he meant this!
                                          >
                                          > Anyway, apologies for not interacting precisely with
                                          > people and being far too hasty but I thought a couple
                                          > of points may have been overlooked (though in my haste
                                          > I may well be wrong).
                                          >
                                          > James Crossley,
                                          > Dept of Biblical Studies,
                                          > University of Sheffield, UK
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
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                                        • RSBrenchley@aol.com
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                            <<"Den of thieves" is Jeremiah language (as is much else in the story of
                                            the fig tree/temple action/fig tree episode) and it signifies a place
                                            where "thieves" go to rest up _after_ they have engaged in injustice,
                                            */not/* where the perpetrate it. (see Jeremiah 7) So the allegation
                                            that the Temple authorities have turned the temple into such a "den" ,
                                            even if historical, *is not, and cannot* *be used as*, * evidence*
                                            that the overseers of the Temple were engaged in economic exploitation,
                                            let alone that decrying economic exploitation was what lay at the
                                            center of Jesus' temple action..

                                            Jeffrey>>



                                            Fair enough, if that was all. Add Josephus' remark that the doctrine of the
                                            Sadducees was made known only to a few men, who were 'of the greatest
                                            dignity', and became magistrates. Then there's the Mishnaic comment that the
                                            Boethusians and/or Sadducees used gold and silver vessels. Doubtless they got their
                                            power (such as it was) from their association with the Temple;I wonder where
                                            they got their wealth from? Is there evidence that they were perpetrating
                                            injustice anywhere else? If Josephus is to be believed, they had little or no
                                            real power, and if they were using their wealth to perpetrate economic
                                            injustice, then the ultimate source of that wealth is surely implicated. The Jesus
                                            movement clearly did reject the existing Temple system over something, after
                                            all. I'm not sure the analogy of thieves resting up after their crimes could
                                            have been applied strictly here, whatever the original context, since the
                                            Temple was a priest's workplace, not a place of rest. The Temple was also acting
                                            as a market and central bank, doubtless under the control of the chief
                                            priests, but I'm not sure whether the roles would have been distinguished in that
                                            way.

                                            On the question of charges for changing money, there's an article from
                                            the Israel Numismatic Bulletin here
                                            _http://israelvisit.co.il/beged-ivri/shekel/teachings/kadman.htm_
                                            (http://israelvisit.co.il/beged-ivri/shekel/teachings/kadman.htm) , which argues that denarii found with a large hoard on Mount
                                            Carmel constituted dues of 8% on the half-shekels in the hoard. A hoard of 139
                                            prutot found in the wall of a house in En-Gedi adds up to a half-shekel (128
                                            prutot), plus 8.6% for the moneychangers.

                                            Regards,

                                            Robert Brenchley,
                                            Birmingham UK



                                            <<In addition to my previous comments, I'd also like to ask not only why
                                            any pilgrim intent on offering a lamb in sacrifice would buy an
                                            "ordinary lamb" (what ever that means) when only "spotless"ones were
                                            acceptable and accepted, but what it is that makes you think (as you
                                            seem to do) that there were two types of lambs (i.e., "ordinary" and
                                            "spotless") offered for sale in the Temple?>>

                                            I'm not assuming there were two types of lamb on sale in the Temple, merely
                                            speculating that the spotless variety, however distinguished, would have cost
                                            more. Unless, of course, there was some official charged with the task of
                                            certifying a lamb as spotless when brought from elsewhere!

                                            Regards,

                                            Robert Brenchley,
                                            Birmingham UK







                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                                            .... foreseeing the Temple s destruction and being all worked up about it, is a bit much methinks. If this were a simple matter of Jesus predicting the
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                              ".... foreseeing the Temple's destruction and being all worked up about
                                              it, is a bit much methinks."



                                              If this were a simple matter of Jesus predicting the destruction of the
                                              temple, with no other aspect involved, I might be inclined to agree.



                                              But here I think Ed Sander's extensive discussion in Jesus and Judaism
                                              is on point, and really one should engage it as well. Quickly, in Jesus
                                              and Judaism (see chapter 2, "New Temple and Restoration in Jewish
                                              Literature," and chapter 3, "Other indications of Restoration
                                              Eschatology") Sanders points to significant evidence that in Judaism
                                              there was extensive restoration eschatological views. This included an
                                              expectation of a new temple, which meant that the old temple was to be
                                              destroyed. He cites quite a few texts as part of that ideology
                                              (including, of interest, Isaiah 56:1-8 quoted in the Synoptic version of
                                              the temple incident; to this I would add Zech. 14, alluded to in the
                                              John version), and then quotes George Nickelsburg (Jewish Literature
                                              Between the Bible and the Mishnah) as follows:



                                              "The destruction of Jerusalem and Exile meant the disruption of life and
                                              the breaking up of institutions whose original form was never fully
                                              restored. Much of post-biblical Jewish theology and literature was
                                              influenced and sometimes governed by a hope for such a restoration: a
                                              return of the dispersed; the appearance of a Davidic heir to throw off
                                              the shackles of foreign domination and restore Israel's sovereignty; the
                                              gathering of one people around a new and glorified Temple."



                                              And what follows is extensive citation from post-biblical texts (some
                                              DSS, 1 Enoch, Jubilees, and many more) to support this ideology and a
                                              temple rebuilding or temple destruction concept - often the former which
                                              implies the latter.



                                              Now if Sanders is correct, then an expectation of a rebuilt temple -
                                              which would imply the destruction of the old in order to accomplish that
                                              - would have been a major part of any eschatological vision. It would
                                              not have required some specific vision of AD 70 destruction. It was part
                                              and parcel of an eschatology that included some messianic aspects.
                                              Especially note the charge leveled against Jesus - that he would destroy
                                              the temple and rebuild it in 3 days!! (cited especially in connection
                                              with the temple incident in John, though interpreted in terms of his
                                              resurrection. But this same charge is found independently as an
                                              indictment of Jesus in Mk 14:58 (and cf. Mk 13:2). This is all part of
                                              an eschatological expectation, and may have nothing to do with an
                                              vaticanu ex eventu (especially since the way it is used -- the
                                              rebuilding in 3 days -- seems to have nothing to do with AD 70, but
                                              rather to either unfulfilled expectation or redefined in terms of Jesus'
                                              resurrection).



                                              In this light it not not be "a bit much methinks." Depends on how much
                                              you are willing to situate Jesus in the context of Jewish eschatological
                                              expectations and culture.



                                              Course if he is simply a Hellenistic Galileean, then maybe Mark made it
                                              all up.



                                              Gordon Raynal wrote:



                                              > Historically speaking, all this business about Jesus (in the 20's/

                                              > 30's) foreseeing the Temple's destruction and being all worked up

                                              > about it, is a bit much methinks. Now per plenty of earlier

                                              > discussions on this issue on the list, I don't think the "temple

                                              > tantrum" is a historical report, but rather a Markan creation that

                                              > was a key part of the construction of the PN written after the fact.

                                              > But back to the earlier era, it would seem from the Acts story

                                              > telling and from Paul and from that snippet in Josephus about Jesus'

                                              > brother, James, that faithfulness to the Temple (and hence its core

                                              > Torah mandated practices) was entirely important to the earliest

                                              > Jesus folk. And then, just in terms of the story telling within the

                                              > Markan PN, on "Palm Sunday," he has this "tantrum" (Mark 11:15ff),

                                              > then a day or two later he commends "the poor widow" for her model

                                              > giving! Seems to me that Jesus would have said, "she's really

                                              > wasting her money," if he really thought either the Temple operations

                                              > were either soon to be at their end or so corrupt as to not being

                                              > worth supporting at all. Theologically these texts make sense as a

                                              > part of the Markan and later story telling when living in the actual

                                              > situation of the loss of the Temple. But historically in

                                              > relationship to Jesus and then at least the earliest Jerusalem

                                              > followers this "tantrum" story doesn't make sense and all this

                                              > "theorizing" as to motives and meanings Jesus had are just

                                              > interesting speculations.





                                              Mark A. Matson

                                              Academic Dean

                                              Milligan College

                                              http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm





                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            • Gordon Raynal
                                              Hi Mark, Thanks for these nice, terse summaries of Sander s, etc. views. (scroll on down) ... Well, as a proponent of such, himself, I m not:)! To be sure
                                              Message 22 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                                Hi Mark,

                                                Thanks for these nice, terse summaries of Sander's, etc. views.
                                                (scroll on down)
                                                On Jun 3, 2008, at 4:10 PM, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

                                                > ".... foreseeing the Temple's destruction and being all worked up
                                                > about
                                                > it, is a bit much methinks."
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > If this were a simple matter of Jesus predicting the destruction of
                                                > the
                                                > temple, with no other aspect involved, I might be inclined to agree.
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > But here I think Ed Sander's extensive discussion in Jesus and Judaism
                                                > is on point, and really one should engage it as well. Quickly, in
                                                > Jesus
                                                > and Judaism (see chapter 2, "New Temple and Restoration in Jewish
                                                > Literature," and chapter 3, "Other indications of Restoration
                                                > Eschatology") Sanders points to significant evidence that in Judaism
                                                > there was extensive restoration eschatological views. This included an
                                                > expectation of a new temple, which meant that the old temple was to be
                                                > destroyed. He cites quite a few texts as part of that ideology
                                                > (including, of interest, Isaiah 56:1-8 quoted in the Synoptic
                                                > version of
                                                > the temple incident; to this I would add Zech. 14, alluded to in the
                                                > John version), and then quotes George Nickelsburg (Jewish Literature
                                                > Between the Bible and the Mishnah) as follows:
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > "The destruction of Jerusalem and Exile meant the disruption of
                                                > life and
                                                > the breaking up of institutions whose original form was never fully
                                                > restored. Much of post-biblical Jewish theology and literature was
                                                > influenced and sometimes governed by a hope for such a restoration: a
                                                > return of the dispersed; the appearance of a Davidic heir to throw off
                                                > the shackles of foreign domination and restore Israel's
                                                > sovereignty; the
                                                > gathering of one people around a new and glorified Temple."
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > And what follows is extensive citation from post-biblical texts (some
                                                > DSS, 1 Enoch, Jubilees, and many more) to support this ideology and a
                                                > temple rebuilding or temple destruction concept - often the former
                                                > which
                                                > implies the latter.
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > Now if Sanders is correct, then an expectation of a rebuilt temple -
                                                > which would imply the destruction of the old in order to accomplish
                                                > that
                                                > - would have been a major part of any eschatological vision. It would
                                                > not have required some specific vision of AD 70 destruction. It was
                                                > part
                                                > and parcel of an eschatology that included some messianic aspects.
                                                > Especially note the charge leveled against Jesus - that he would
                                                > destroy
                                                > the temple and rebuild it in 3 days!! (cited especially in connection
                                                > with the temple incident in John, though interpreted in terms of his
                                                > resurrection. But this same charge is found independently as an
                                                > indictment of Jesus in Mk 14:58 (and cf. Mk 13:2). This is all
                                                > part of
                                                > an eschatological expectation, and may have nothing to do with an
                                                > vaticanu ex eventu (especially since the way it is used -- the
                                                > rebuilding in 3 days -- seems to have nothing to do with AD 70, but
                                                > rather to either unfulfilled expectation or redefined in terms of
                                                > Jesus'
                                                > resurrection).
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > In this light it not not be "a bit much methinks." Depends on how
                                                > much
                                                > you are willing to situate Jesus in the context of Jewish
                                                > eschatological
                                                > expectations and culture.

                                                Well, as a proponent of such, himself, I'm not:)! To be sure there
                                                were those who belonged to the Jesus folk who held to such notions
                                                in various ways, but I don't see Jesus in this light at all. Why?
                                                Because I think the authentic Jesus speech we have access to is
                                                sapiential in nature and that material isn't interested in what you
                                                cite above.
                                                >
                                                >
                                                >
                                                > Course if he is simply a Hellenistic Galileean, then maybe Mark
                                                > made it
                                                > all up.

                                                If the "he" here is Jesus, then I think he was a good Galilean Jewish
                                                fellow whose language shows deep rooted connections to the long
                                                wisdom heritage from Israel's past. Regarding Mark, I very much
                                                think he created the incident as a part of his broad midrashic
                                                imagination.

                                                Gordon Raynal
                                                Inman, SC
                                                >
                                              • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                                                ... Well, as a proponent of such, himself, I m not:)! To be sure there were those who belonged to the Jesus folk who held to such notions in various ways,
                                                Message 23 of 24 , Jun 3, 2008
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                                                  Gordon Raynal wrote:

                                                  > In this light it not not be "a bit much methinks." Depends on how
                                                  > much
                                                  > you are willing to situate Jesus in the context of Jewish
                                                  > eschatological
                                                  > expectations and culture.

                                                  Well, as a proponent of such, himself, I'm not:)! To be sure there
                                                  were those who belonged to the Jesus folk who held to such notions
                                                  in various ways, but I don't see Jesus in this light at all. Why?
                                                  Because I think the authentic Jesus speech we have access to is
                                                  sapiential in nature and that material isn't interested in what you
                                                  cite above.
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > Course if he is simply a Hellenistic Galileean, then maybe Mark
                                                  > made it
                                                  > all up.

                                                  If the "he" here is Jesus, then I think he was a good Galilean Jewish
                                                  fellow whose language shows deep rooted connections to the long
                                                  wisdom heritage from Israel's past. Regarding Mark, I very much
                                                  think he created the incident as a part of his broad midrashic
                                                  imagination.


                                                  Gordon:

                                                  I thought this was in general where you were.... I may have been dangling for a bit more of a Crossan perspective, but this situates you more or less where I remembered.

                                                  We could argue back and forth on this, but for me too much of the gospels are so deeply eschatological, the residual views of the disciples are so eschatological, the "water that the gospels drink from" seem so eschatological, that I can't excise all that to get to a sapiential, but no eschatological, figure. For me, the scalpel needs to be too sharp to accomplish all that cutting. I guess I have a hard time imagining that Jesus was one way (ie. non-eschatological), and all the writers about Jesus, and the followers who wrote about the church, are another way (ie. eschatological)

                                                  But we differ on whatis perhaps the very central dividing point on historical Jesus studies.


                                                  Mark A. Matson
                                                  Academic Dean
                                                  Milligan College
                                                  http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm


                                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                • Gordon Raynal
                                                  Hi Mark, Thanks for the pleasant conversation about differences. Just a few notes to further the conversation... ... I m less convinced than Crossan is about
                                                  Message 24 of 24 , Jun 4, 2008
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                                                    Hi Mark,

                                                    Thanks for the pleasant conversation about differences. Just a few
                                                    notes to further the conversation...

                                                    On Jun 3, 2008, at 10:26 PM, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:

                                                    >
                                                    > Gordon:
                                                    >
                                                    > I thought this was in general where you were.... I may have been
                                                    > dangling for a bit more of a Crossan perspective, but this situates
                                                    > you more or less where I remembered.

                                                    I'm less convinced than Crossan is about a number of things he sees
                                                    as historical:)!
                                                    >
                                                    > We could argue back and forth on this, but for me too much of the
                                                    > gospels are so deeply eschatological, the residual views of the
                                                    > disciples are so eschatological, the "water that the gospels drink
                                                    > from" seem so eschatological, that I can't excise all that to get
                                                    > to a sapiential, but no eschatological, figure.

                                                    A couple of things here...

                                                    This for me is a bit of a generalization. First, I note you say,
                                                    "too much of the gospels are so deeply eschatalogical, the residual
                                                    views of the disciples..." An interesting discussion that flows from
                                                    this are "which Gospels," which disciples do you think are behind
                                                    those gospels and how, how you see the dating and relationships and
                                                    the development of theologies expressed. Second, wisdom theology
                                                    does have "an eschatology," of course, it is just not the one you
                                                    outlined. And in relationship to this, there's the whole question of
                                                    the variances and nuances both within writings and between the
                                                    writings as to how apocalyptic scriptures and ideas are mixed with
                                                    other strands of Hebraic scripture and thought. Looking across the
                                                    early materials what I see is a none to surprising diversity of
                                                    viewpoints... none too surprising because the received resources show
                                                    a wealth of diversity and what little we know of the era shows that
                                                    diversity.

                                                    > For me, the scalpel needs to be too sharp to accomplish all that
                                                    > cutting. I guess I have a hard time imagining that Jesus was one
                                                    > way (ie. non-eschatological), and all the writers about Jesus, and
                                                    > the followers who wrote about the church, are another way (ie.
                                                    > eschatological)

                                                    I like your analogy of scalpel... for your perspective. If I may use
                                                    another.... I'll use panning for gold:)! Ye olde historical stream
                                                    has lots of rocks in it, but very little gold! Historically speaking
                                                    I can't find much data from before the Roman Jewish War... and not
                                                    much more after that until we get into the 2nd century. What I do
                                                    find and it is what is held in common across the various voices and
                                                    across time is a core of wisdom speech which is then remembered,
                                                    worked over, developed and built upon across the resources we do
                                                    have. And I might think this were odd and completely disconnected...
                                                    except that the Israel heritage has a long, rich and vibrant wisdom
                                                    heritage that is there in the TANAK and in the inter-testamental
                                                    Apocryphal writings. And so I really think that is were the gold is:)!

                                                    >
                                                    > But we differ on whatis perhaps the very central dividing point on
                                                    > historical Jesus studies.

                                                    It is a big divide and doubtful it will be closed any time soon.
                                                    More the fun, eh! Makes for interesting conversations and debates.
                                                    But just for fun (and if you are interested in chatting some more
                                                    either on line or off)... list for me what you think are the 5 most
                                                    important sayings of Jesus and lets have a conversation about the
                                                    theology and ethics (and so related eschatology) of those sayings.
                                                    As this isn't a list to talk theology beyond historical or
                                                    descriptive theology, perhaps we should do this off list, if you are
                                                    interested.

                                                    Thanks again for a pleasant chat!

                                                    Gordon Raynal
                                                    Inman, SC
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
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