The Use of the Dead Sea Scrolls for Interpreting Jesus’s Action in the Temple

in Dead Sea Discoveries

In order to understand Jesus’s violent outburst in the temple, scholars frequently turn to Jewish texts from the late Second Temple Period, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The same texts are used to support contrasting explanations of the event. This paper evaluates these interpretations and offers an analysis of the key texts on the Jerusalem temple in the Scrolls. It concludes that the negative attitudes towards the temple that are reflected in Jesus’s action and some of the sectarian writings from Qumran share an expectation that the temple would become defiled in the end time. From such an apocalyptic perspective, it did not matter how the temple priests actually ran their business, since they were bound to be criticized by those Jews, such as Jesus and the Qumran sectarians, for whom the final age had arrived.

Abstract

In order to understand Jesus’s violent outburst in the temple, scholars frequently turn to Jewish texts from the late Second Temple Period, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The same texts are used to support contrasting explanations of the event. This paper evaluates these interpretations and offers an analysis of the key texts on the Jerusalem temple in the Scrolls. It concludes that the negative attitudes towards the temple that are reflected in Jesus’s action and some of the sectarian writings from Qumran share an expectation that the temple would become defiled in the end time. From such an apocalyptic perspective, it did not matter how the temple priests actually ran their business, since they were bound to be criticized by those Jews, such as Jesus and the Qumran sectarians, for whom the final age had arrived.

1 Introduction

The importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the study of the historical Jesus cannot be overstated. Although there is no indication that Jesus had any contact with the members of the Qumran movement these texts are frequently cited as evidence to provide for the historical context of Jesus’s deeds and words.1 This is a valid approach, since the scrolls provide a window into the Jewish world with a common apocalyptic outlook shared by Jesus and his disciples who were Jews—a worldview characterized by the belief that they were living at the end of the present era, in the last days.2 At the same time, using these texts for the reconstruction of the beliefs and practices not only of the Qumran sectarians but also the general Jewish society is complicated, and scholars differ widely in their assessments. Historical Jesus scholars differ as well in their use and interpretations of the Dead Sea Scrolls in their research, including their discussion of the temple incident where the Qumran texts frequently are cited in the analyses.

All four canonical gospels record Jesus’s violent action in the temple when he attacked the money changers and the sellers, although John, in contrast to the Synoptic Gospels, places the event at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry (Matt 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46; John 2:13–17). The event is considered historical by the great majority of scholars, even though they differ considerably in their interpretations of the reasons behind Jesus’s actions.3 Interestingly enough, scholars appeal to the Dead Sea Scrolls in support of different viewpoints in the debate. In this study I will examine how different texts from Qumran are used as an interpretive key to Jesus’s action, but also highlight a neglected aspect of common ground between Jesus and the Qumran sectarians in their apocalyptic imaginations concerning the temple.

2 Jesus’s Action in the Temple and Scholarly Discussions

Given the double attestation of the incident (Mark 11:15–17; John 2:14–17), the coherence with Jesus’s role as a prophet, and a possible embarrassment over the episode in the church, the historicity of the temple incident is rarely disputed.4 The meaning of the event is also difficult to understand, which speaks in favour of authenticity as Adela Collins points out.5 Jesus’s actions in the temple is a given topic in the list of “key events in the life of the historical Jesus” in the book by that title, edited by Darell Bock and Robert Webb.6 E. P. Sanders even begins his investigation into the historical Jesus with this event, referring to it as, “the surest starting point for our investigation.”7 The story as told by Mark entails many details, including that Jesus drove out both sellers and buyers (of animals) and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of the pigeon sellers; Jesus is also said to have prevented people from carrying anything through the temple. If we assume Markan priority (which I do), both Matthew and Luke have shortened Mark’s story. Luke, who consistently exhibits a high esteem for the temple, only provides a minimum of details, but includes the words from Isaiah and Jeremiah ascribed to Jesus: “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:46).8 The independent presentation of the episode by John is also highly detailed (John 2:13–22). In this version Jesus attacks the sellers of “cattle, sheep, and doves” as well as making a weapon, a “whip of chords,” whereby he drives both sellers and animals out of the temple. A reference to Ps 69:9 is attributed to the disciples, “His disciples remembered that it was written ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’” (John 2:17). John explicitly links the incident to the destruction of the temple, which in turn he explains as a reference to Jesus’s upcoming death and resurrection:

18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body.

(John 2:18–21)9

In light of Josephus’s accounts and archaeological research on Jerusalem, the market where the money changers and sellers were conducting their business has been identified as the Royal Stoa in the southern part of the outer court, which was completed in 12 bce as part of Herod’s extension (Ant. 15.411–416).10 Generally, scholars concur that the incident was a catalyst for Jesus’s eventual arrest and crucifixion.11 Since the temple guards failed to apprehend Jesus, many scholars assume that the action undertaken by Jesus must have been quite limited in scope and that the reports by the evangelists are highly exaggerated. As Sanders points out, it would have taken an army to stop the trade.12 Still, it is also an exaggeration to claim that no one would have noticed that Jesus was overturning tables and attacking people. Klyne Snodgrass, for one, states that the act was a “bold move, required significant effort, and carried some risk.”13 He argues that Jesus was not arrested because the authorities did not dare to do so, given his supporters and the potentially explosive situation with the extraordinary large crowds. That is why Jesus was later arrested at night. We can only guess, but it is hard to see how officials would have refrained from interfering with Jesus had they noticed the attack. Perhaps they were given reports about the incident afterwards. Sanders’s assessment is reasonable, “It would appear that the action was not substantiated enough to interfere with the daily routine; for if it had been, he would surely have been arrested on the spot.”14

The scholarly agreement on the historicity of the event, as well as preference for the time frame of the Synoptic Gospels versus John, ceases completely when it comes to understanding the meaning of Jesus’s actions. Why did Jesus oppose the money changers and the business people and cause havoc in the temple, at the very heart of Jewish worship? The main dividing line between scholarly views rests on how to interpret Jesus’s actions: either primarily as a symbolic, prophetic act carrying an eschatological message, or mainly as a protest against one or several aspects of the temple service and/or its priesthood. Prominent scholars who represent these polar opposites are Sanders, who views the event as a symbol for the coming destruction of the temple, and Craig Evans who argues that Jesus was protesting priestly corruption.15 Some scholars also combine the two motifs. For example, while arguing for a symbolic interpretation of cleansing and restoration, Ben Meyer also finds evidence of protest; there was real critique involved in Jesus’s acts (“an intent to keep the temple hallowed here and now”), but the central message was eschatological: “Jesus’ act was symbol-charged and signified the imminent eschaton . . . the temple cleansing signalled the dawn of a new era and a restoration of cult appropriate to it.”16

A crucial issue for the spectrum of interpretations concerns the historicity of Jesus’s saying at the scene when, according to the Synoptic Gospels, he cites Isaiah and Jeremiah, thus pronouncing an accusation about robbery (“a den of robbers”) as a contrast to pure worship (“house of prayer”). To view Mark 11:17 (with or without the reference to “all the nations”) as historical is quite common among scholars, and with that also the understanding that Jesus opposed the commercialism or the alleged corruption of the priesthood, as we will see below.17 On this issue I side with Adela Yarbro Collins, who argues that the sayings of Jesus in Mark 11:17 clearly reflect the interpretations of the evangelists, and it is therefore safer to concentrate on the actions.18 Hence, all we know is that Jesus acted violently in the temple and, in turn, this action was interpreted by the evangelists as a protest against corruption (a den of robbers). At the same time, we should not exclude the possibility that the early interpreters, i.e., the evangelists, would have had some insight into the event.

3 Jesus’s Act as a Protest or a Call for Reform

The common label for this pericope, a “cleansing,” already implies an interpretive framework for Jesus’s act, which corresponds to the traditional understanding of the event.19 Since the late nineteenth century it has been common place to view the trade and money changing at the temple as crass commercialism against which Jesus was reacting violently, by attempting to “cleanse” the temple from such “defilement.”20 Sanders rightly criticises such a perspective, which distinguishes between an external form of worship and inner values, as anachronistic. These views persist, he claims, in his book from 1985: “Those who write about Jesus’ desire to return the temple to its ‘original’, ‘true’ purpose, the ‘pure worship’ of God, seem to forget that the principal function of any temple is to serve as a place for sacrifice, and that sacrifices require the supply of suitable animals.”21 More recent scholars seldom claim that Jesus would have protested against the sacrificial cult per se or the selling of animals, which was necessary, but rather some aspects of it.22

Craig Evans finds wide support for the alleged corruption of the temple priests in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Pseudepigrapha that in his view forms the background for Jesus’s protest against the commercial activities in the temple precincts.23 Many scholars, such as Klyne Snodgrass and Timothy Wardle, support his approach.24 The latter argues that Jesus’s actions were a reaction against the economic abuses in the temple. A slightly different approach is offered by Hans Dieter Betz, who highlights the connection between the temple and the Herodians, arguing that Jesus was protesting against the commercialism that had corrupted worship since the time of Herod the Great. Thus, Jesus was also protesting against Herodian rule.25 Focusing on the architectural layout of the temple, Collins proposes that Jesus instead opposed the place of the trade in the outer court, in the Royal Stoa. According to her, in the tradition of the Temple Scroll and Ezekiel the entire temenos was sacred for Jesus, evinced by his objection to carrying (profane) vessels through the area (Mark 11:16).26 According to Collins, Jesus also objected to the use of Tyrian shekels with the image of the god Melqart, which others have proposed before her.27 A different twist is offered by Eyal Regev, who, drawing on texts from Qumran, suggests that for Jesus the money symbolised the corrupted wealth of the temple which was morally defiling.28 In addition, Jonathan Klawans considers the action a protest against collecting money from the poor.29 Although these explanations that focus on one or two particular aspects are not impossible, they lack support in the texts. Even though Jesus’s acts took place in the Royal Stoa it does not mean that he necessarily protested against that part of the temple complex. Similarly, we should be careful not to read too much into his attacks on the money changers specifically, as if his protest were directed towards the use of coins per se; or since he was attacking people carrying things through the temple that he objected to such a practice in principle (would he have known where they were heading or why they were carrying vessels?).30 The impression given in the earliest account, i.e., that of Mark, is that Jesus attacked people around him in the market place, both workers and customers, and that he overturned both tables and chairs in his path. Hence, such a broad attack fits better with a wider aim, such as a protest over corruption in general.

4 Jesus’s Act as an Enacted Prophecy

There is a variety of interpretations that highlight the apocalyptic symbolism of the act. For example, Joachim Jeremias advocated that the primary aim of Jesus’s action was to cleanse the temple to prepare for its eschatological function as a pilgrimage site for the gentiles, as Mark indicates: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17; Isa 56:7).31 Given the disinterest in the salvation of the gentiles in Jesus’s ministry in general, the historicity of the Isaiah quote has rightly been questioned.32 In Meyer’s reconstruction Jesus’s message was not limited to the temple, but had a much wider focus. Jesus used the temple as a scene to get “maximum exposure” for his proclamation of the coming reign of God. Meyer suggests that Jesus’s enacted prophecy expressed a critique of the temple practice and that “cleansing” is an appropriate label. At the same time, the critique was directed to the whole people, to “this generation.” Thus Meyer maintains that Jesus acted in line with the prophets, in particular Jeremiah (Jer 7:3, “Reform your ways . . .”), calling for repentance and threatening imminent judgment on the people. But the act was also promise of restoration: “It was at once a fulfilment event and a sign of the future, pledging the restoration of the temple, Zion, and Jerusalem.”33 For Sanders, Jesus’s demonstration specifically concerns the temple, but as part of a larger eschatological drama. After dismissing all suggestions that Jesus protested against priestly corruption or commercialism, and also rejecting the authenticity of the saying of Jesus in Mark 11:17, Sanders argues that the act was a symbolic demonstration signifying the destruction of the temple. According to him, overturning tables is a clear symbol of destruction, even though others disagree.34 Importantly, Sanders points to other gospel traditions as support, i.e., Jesus’s prediction about the upcoming destruction (Mark 13:1) and the charges that he had threatened to destroy the temple (Mark 14:57–58; Matt 26:60; Matt 27:40; Mark 15:29; John 2:18–22). It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Jesus indeed predicted the destruction. But, what about a restoration or rebuilding? In light of the apocalyptic worldview that shaped Jesus’s actions and words, the destruction of the temple belong to his end-time scenario of judgement and a new age. As Sanders argues, a rebuilt temple is most likely part of Jesus’s vision of the final era, hinted at in the charges against him, e.g., in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” a prediction about destruction and rebuilding that John has reinterpreted (cf. “not with hands” in Mark 14:57–60).35 A key part of Sanders’s thesis is that Jesus was not protesting against current temple practice since those kinds of charges, e.g., abuse and dishonesty of the priests, are missing in the gospels.36 Sanders’s proposal has been very influential.37 According to Paula Fredriksen, Jesus was enacting an apocalyptic prophecy about the coming destruction of the temple by God, and his eschatological picture included the temple’s renewal and rebuilding. Like Sanders, she emphasizes that “the temple incident had nothing to do with any supposed ‘cleansing,’ criticism, or condemnation.”38 Also Bart Ehrman in his book Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium, takes for granted that Jesus’s act was a symbolic demonstration of his apocalyptic message about an upcoming destruction.39 At the same time he also holds that Jesus was reacting to the corruption of the temple institution. In his view it is hard to know what precisely Jesus was attacking, “It may simply have been that as a country fellow from rural Galilee, who preached against wealth and power, the sheer opulence of the place made his blood boil on principle.”40 One may wonder, however, why Jesus would have reacted so violently this time and not before, if we accept the common view that Jesus had been in Jerusalem many times. Also James Dunn finds several plausible motifs in Jesus actions: a protest against the temple operation; a symbol of destruction; a symbolic purification.41

Sanders has made a strong case for reading the symbolism behind Jesus’s act as a prophecy of destruction and demonstrated how this fits in Jesus’s eschatological scenario of judgement, but also of the rebuilding and restoration of the temple. At the same time, it is hard not to agree with the conclusions by, e.g., Dunn, Ehrman, and Snodgrass that there is also an aspect of protest and anger involved in Jesus’s violent outburst.42 As Dunn states, “Whatever Jesus may have intended . . . the act could hardly have been understood by the priestly authorities as other than critical of the Temple in its present form of operation.”43 If it looked like a protest, it likely was a protest. Furthermore, if the temple was to be destroyed by God, then there would also have to be a reason for that, i.e., something must have been wrong with the temple practice in Jesus’s view or it would not need to be ruined. How can the Dead Sea Scrolls be used to make sense of the predictions of destruction and Jesus’s angry reaction to the temple? Both Sanders and Evans—whose views are still very much part of the current debate—are conspicuous for their heavy use of the Jewish sources and my investigation of the usefulness of these sources will pay special attention to their work.

5 The Dead Sea Scrolls and Pseudepigrapha as Background to Jesus’s Actions in the Temple

Sanders asks the question, whether anything indicated that Jesus attacked “present practice” and not the temple service per se, which then would mean that he may have shown himself as a reformer aiming at “cleansing the temple.” Referring to the accusations against the priesthood and the temple in Pss. Sol. 8:9–14; 1QpHab 9:5; 12:8f.; and cd 4:18; 5:6–8, he argues that this kind of evidence is irrelevant since there is no evidence of Jesus criticising the temple or the priests in the gospels, with the exception of Mark 11:17 which he considers inauthentic. Accordingly, if Jesus had been critical of the way the temple was run, this should have been evident in the gospel traditions.44 In Sanders’s words, “If he [Jesus] actually explicitly opposed one of the main institutions of Judaism, he kept it secret from his disciples.”45 In contrast, as already mentioned, there are multiple attestations of Jesus’s sayings about the destruction of the temple, both as predictions and threats. Jesus, according to Sanders, prepared the people for imminent judgement and a new age which included a new, restored temple. He cites numerous passages from Jewish texts including the Dead Sea Scrolls to support the view that there was a wide spread, apocalyptic hope for a new or renewed temple in the end time (e.g., Tob 13:16–18; 14:5f.; cf. Isa 54:11f.; 1 En. 90:28f.; Jub. 1:15–17; T. Benj. 9:2; Pss. Sol. 17; Sib. Or. 5:425; 1QM 7:4–10; 4QpPsa [4Q171] 3:11; 11QTa 29:8–10) and a restored Jerusalem (Philo, Praem. 94–97, 162–72; Rev 21:9–22:546). To Sanders’s list 4QFlor (4Q174) 1–2 i 3 should be added as yet another example of a text that expresses a hope for an eschatological temple.47 Also the non-sectarian New Jerusalem text (e.g., 1Q32; 2Q24; 11Q18) is pertinent; it focuses on an eschatological temple with an altar (e.g., 11Q18 13 4; 16 ii + 17 i; 18; 19; 22) and the city of Jerusalem.48 Sanders concludes that there was a wide range of different expectations of the end time temple noting that at times a “new Jerusalem” or a “new temple” implies the destruction of the old, although this is not always explicitly stated.49 Importantly, according to Sanders the allegations of a profanation of the temple in these texts refer to actual historical circumstances, and cleansing is not part of the eschatological scenario. In this context he refers to the Qumran community. For them, Sanders posits, the priesthood was immoral but this was not part of the end time scenario: “pollution of the sanctuary is not cited as a sign of the end.”50 I believe this point is overstated, and that both pollution and destruction belong to common expectations for the end time. The implications of this, as I will argue, is that Sanders’ thesis needs to be revised.

For his part, Evans provides extensive support for his key argument that the temple was widely seen as polluted and its priesthood corrupt, which gives the appropriate background for understanding Jesus’s action as a reaction against the deplorable state of affairs in the temple. A valuable point in Evans’s critique of Sanders is that the prophetic warnings of destruction always occur together with charges of various kinds of corruption (although Evans argues that Jesus did not predict a destruction).51 Warnings of destruction of the temple and accusations of sins naturally belong together as is apparent in, e.g., Jer 7:1–15; Ezek 22:23–31.

Key post-biblical texts to which Evans refers as “evidence of corruption in the first-century temple” are Josephus, early rabbinic texts, and targumim. Nevertheless, since these are post-70 sources their relevance is limited. In addition, as Evans also admits, Josephus’s critique of the priesthood pertains to the late 50s and 60s.52 For traditions “reflecting the time of Jesus,” Evans refers to the charges against the “Wicked priest” and the priesthood in the pesharim (e.g., 1QpHab 8:8–12; 9:5, 9; 12:8–9 and 4QpNah 1:11). Although originally referring to the Hasmonean priests, according to Evans, these texts would have been understood in the 1st century ce to refer to contemporary priests. Although I date the pesharim later (see below) this interpretive principle is important. The same kind of reinterpretation by later generations can also apply to other documents with similar charges, i.e., Jub. 23:21, T. Levi 14:1–6; 17:11, Pss. Sol. 17–18, and 1 En. 89–90. These accusations from the 2nd century in combination with the “significant evidence of greed and corruption” among the ruling priests in Jesus’s time, raise “the possibility that some objectionable activity taking place in the Temple’s precincts when Jesus entered Jerusalem cannot be dismissed out of hand.”53 Given the perceived pollution of the temple, he explains that the Messiah was expected to “cleanse” the temple, not destroy it. On this point I would object that the reasons motivating Jesus to act in a specific way should not be limited to the expectations linked to a Messiah figure. Instead, I suggest his actions were influenced by a broad spectrum of beliefs about the end time. In addition, it is unclear whether Jesus understood himself as a Messiah.

Evans has received both critique and acclaim for the assertion that there was evidence of corruption and abuse by the priests in the time of Jesus.54 Based on his extensive study on this topic, Jostein Ådna states:

There is no evidence of general exploitive conditions at the temple market like high prices for monopoly products or unjustified charges for money-changing, nor could a protest against the wealth and privileges of the chief priests easily be understood an intended message of the recounted acts by Jesus.55

As we will see below, rather than providing evidence for actual corruption it is more likely that the accusations against the temple and its priesthood reflect apocalyptic expectations.

6 The End Time Temples in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Whereas Sanders points to widespread beliefs in an eschatological renewed or rebuilt temple, Evans highlights perceptions of the temple as polluted and its priesthood corrupt. In my view, both motifs are crucial in order to understand Jesus’s actions. Let us first consider the accusations against the priesthood and the defilement of the temple in the sectarian literature in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which looms large in the debate. These charges appear only in a handful of documents, i.e., two of the pesharim and the Damascus Document (D). In the Admonition of D, that is, the sermon-like first part, we find repeated accusations about the defilement of the temple, e.g., in the well-known passage on the nets of Belial (cd 4:12–18):56

But during all those years, Belial will run unbridled amidst Israel, as God spoke through the hand of the prophet Isaiah, son of Amos, saying, “Fear and a pit and a snare are upon you, O inhabitant(s) of the land” (Isa 24:17). Its interpretation: the three nets of Belial, of which Levi, the son of Jacob, said that he (Belial) entrapped Israel with them, making them seem as if they were three types of righteousness. The first is whoredom (הזנות), the second wealth (ההון), and the third defilement of the sanctuary (טמא המקדש).

The author then provides several examples of the alleged defilement of the temple, i.e., through incest (uncle-niece marriages) and sexual intercourse during menstruation (cd 5:6–11). These charges concern the general population and are not directed against the priests per se. Belial’s net of “wealth” is never explained, but reappears on the next page in the context “the time of evil,” when the covenanters are to “to separate (themselves) from the sons of the pit and to refrain from the wicked wealth (מהון הרשעה) which is impure due to oath(s) and dedication(s) and to (being) the wealth of the sanctuary (ובהון המקדש), (for) they (the sons of the pit) steal from the poor of his people, preying upon wid[ow]s and murdering orphans” (cd 6:14–17).57 Whereas the accusation about uncle-niece marriages concerns an actual dispute, the accusations about the defilement of the temple and the general corruption of the priesthood, including the abuse of the poor, appear rather exaggerated.58 The harsh tone in these passages from the Admonition is also quite different from the legal part of the same document that includes laws concerning the priests and the cult, e.g., laws about disqualifications of priests who have been held in captivity by gentiles or who emigrate (4Q266 5 ii 4–13); these laws are stated in a non-polemical fashion.59 The text of D displays clear signs of being layered. In her thorough study on the literary development of D, Charlotte Hempel places the legal part (the halakah), to which the laws on the sacrifices and the temple belong, to an earlier stage than that of the Admonition.60 She also points out that the halakah stratum of D shows similarities with documents such as 4Q159 (Ordinances) and 4QMMT. Importantly these legal texts in general outline the laws in a neutral way without overt polemic.61 The charges in Admonition, on the other hand, are reminiscent of the accusations against the wicked priest in the pesharim 1QpHab and 4QpNah, where corruption, or greed, as well as general ‘abhorrent deeds’ pollute the temple. In agreement with John Collins and Michael Wise I hold that the sect was formed, not in the mid second century, but in the late 2nd century bce and that the pesharim concern people and events from the 1st century.62 Dated to the late 1st century bce, 1QpHab and 4QpNah belong to the later pesharim and reflect the intensified conflict between the sect and the Jerusalem priesthood, especially that between the Teacher of Righteousness and the Wicked priest.63

The Wicked priest is accused of transgressing the laws because of his greed in 1QpHab 8:10–13:

He became proud and forsook God and betrayed the commandments for the sake of riches. He amassed by force the riches of the lawless who had rebelled against God, seizing the riches of the peoples, thus adding to the guilt of his crimes, and he committed ab[ho]rrent deeds in every defiling impurity ודרכי ת[וע]בות פעל בכול נדת טמאה.

Similarly, 1QpHab 12:7–10 claims that “the Wicked Priest committed abhorrent deeds (מעשי תועבות) defiling the Temple of God (ויטמא את מקדש אל).” The charge of corruption is also levelled against “the later priests of Jerusalem” in 1QpHab 9:4–5 who are said to “gather ill-gotten riches from the plunder of the people” (cf. 4QpNah 3–4 i 11–12).64 Hence, the explicit accusations against priests and the Wicked Priest refer to corruption and undefined abhorrent activities as well as violence against the Teacher of Righteousness. They do not primarily appear to concern specific halakic issues or the calendar.

According to these pesharim and the Admonition of the Damascus Document, which reflect a later stage than 4QMMT, the corruption of the priesthood in general and the wicked priest in particular, as well as sexual misdeeds of the people, cause defilement of the temple.65 These general charges differ in tone and content from those in 4QMMT that concern specific halakic disputes related to the temple and the priests, such as the handling of animal skins, tithing, and rules concerning the entrance of foreigners. There are good reasons to believe that these halakic differences are the main reason for the conflict that led to the formation of the sect, rather than a dispute over the high priestly lineage or the calendar.66 The implication of the laws in 4QMMT is that the current temple praxis actually defiles the temple. Still, the overall tone may be described as fairly moderate, moving from being neutral to slightly polemical. The aim of the treatise is to persuade the addressee(s) to change their ways; in the end, the author refers to the wisdom and knowledge of the Torah of the addressee (C 27–28) and implores him to change his practice (C 30).

Given these general differences between 4QMMT and the laws in D on the one hand, and the pesharim and the Admonition, on the other, it is possible to trace a broad trajectory in the attitudes towards the temple. From a more neutral stance in early texts, in which specific legal issues are at the centre of the dispute in the early phase, there is a movement towards charges about a general corruption and defilement of the temple in a later phase.67 This development follows a general tendency. In his study of conflicts in the area of sexual and marital laws, William Loader reconstructs a pattern of conflict which “has moved from dispute to disparagement, from argumentation to alienation.”68 According to him, the later stage is characterized by a generalisation and absence of details, which he calls “the disparagement phase,” when legal conflicts are seen as belonging to the past. This general trend suggests that we should not be looking for specific underlying issues of dispute behind the accusations concerning the defilement of the temple in D and pesharim, but understand them as unspecific and exaggerated charges, which are part of the vilification of the adversaries and an alienation from outsiders. One important factor behind this trend are apocalyptic expectations.

Several early Jewish texts with an apocalyptic orientation warn about the defilement of a future priesthood. Thus Jub. 23:21 claims that the priests will “pollute the holy of holies with their pollution and with corruption of their contamination.” Similar accusations concerning greed, pride, and sexual depravity of the priests that defile the temple are found in the Testament of Levi (T. Levi 14–17).69 Furthermore, future priests are charged with corruption in the Testament of Moses (T. Mos. 5:4–5).70 1 Enoch 89:73 in the Animal Apocalypse claims that the priests will offer polluted food after the rebuilding of the temple (“tower”). The book of Daniel also predicts a future defilement of the temple in connection to its destruction, in very specific terms: 9:26–27:71

The troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.

This prophecy has been influential for Jesus (Mark 13:14) as will be discussed below. The non-sectarian document, 4Q390 Apocryphon of Jeremiah, is yet another example of predictions about the sins of both the people and the priesthood.72 Two fragments are preserved of the document which provides an historical review based on an interpretation of Daniel’s explanation of the 70-year prophecy in Dan 9 (cf. Jer 25:8–14; 29:4–14); thereby the history of the seven periods of 70 years (Dan 9) are outlined in 4Q390.73 Concerning the time after the rebuilding of the temple (i.e., the second temple), the text reads “But at the end of that generation, in the seventh jubilee after the destruction of the land, they shall forget law, festival, Sabbath, and covenant, and shall violate everything, and they shall do evil before me” (4Q390 i 7–9). The second fragment highlights the general corruption of the people which defiles the temple, similar to the topic of column one. Only the beginning of a specific accusation about the violence of the priests is preserved.74

Taken together these texts provide evidence of an expectation of future defilement of the temple through the corruption of both the priesthood and the people, an evil generation before the new era. Although these apocalyptically oriented documents were written in the second century bce and with reference to events in that time, for later readers, including the Qumran sectarians, these end-time predictions concerned their own time, which Evans also notes. Nevertheless, Evans fails to draw out the important implications of this for understanding the actions of Jesus. The general expectation of the pollution of the temple forms a backdrop to explain why the critique of the temple in the late sectarian literature in the Dead Sea Scrolls is expressed in exaggerated terms, including accusations of all kinds of evil deeds, in particular sexual transgressions and moral corruption which defile the temple. Thereby predictions about a corrupt priesthood and a defiled temple became self-fulfilled prophecies in the scrolls. It would not matter much what the priests did; the sectarians would accuse the priesthood of general corruption and defilement of the temple, since they believed they were living in the end time when these things would occur.

The expectations of an impure temple goes hand in hand with the strong hope for a new or renewed temple, which is evident in many Second Temple texts. From Qumran, 4QFlor 1–2 i 2–6 and 11QT 29:8–10 testify to the belief in a new, glorified temple of divine origin.75 Also the New Jerusalem text refers to a rebuilt temple. The expectations concerning the temple in the end time are not as explicit in 1QM 7:4–10 and 4QpPsa 3:11, but they do pertain to a renewed cult. It goes without saying that the expectations for a new temple rested on the perception that something was wrong with the current one which is consistent with the visions of Ezekiel. For Ezekiel the destruction is the result of defilement of the temple (e.g., 5:11; 8–9), but he also envisioned a future rebuilt temple (43–48). This line of thought is explicit in the predictions for the new temple in 4QFlor 1–2 i 3–6:76

[ ‘The sanctuary, O Lord, which] thy hands have [es]stablished. Yahweh will rule for ever and ever.’ That is the house ‘where there shall never more enter [ ]’ and ‘the Ammonite and the Moabite’ and ‘Bastard’ and ‘alien’ and sojourner ‘for ever’ (Deut 23:2–3) for my holy ones are there. [ ] ever, he shall be seen continually upon it, and strangers shall not again make it desolate as they desolated formerly the sant[tuary of I]srael because of their sin.

7 Jesus’s Actions and Expectations

I propose that Jesus, like the Qumran sectarians, assumed that the temple would become defiled and profaned in the end times, which he believed was his own time. As discussed above, the predictions about the immanent destruction of the temple most likely stem from Jesus’s prophetic messages. Given this expectation, he must also have assumed that something was wrong with the temple, or else there would be no need for it to be destroyed. As noted above, Sanders argues that there is no evidence of such expectation in the teaching of Jesus because there is no critique against the priesthood nor against the temple.77 But there is a saying about a future defilement of the temple in the apocalyptic discourse in Mark 13, which noticeably begins with Jesus’s prediction of the demise of the temple building (13:2). Mark 13:14 refers to “the desolating sacrilege,” which is part of the unit 13:14–20 concerning the coming suffering:

But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 15 the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; 16 the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 17 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days.

The expression “desolating sacrilege” (τὸ βδέλυγµα τῆς ἐρηµώσεως) refers to the Book of Daniel where it occurs in various forms three times (9:27; 11:31; 12:11; cf. 1 Macc 1:54). Although parts of Mark 13 show clear signs of originating in the early church (e.g., 13:9–11, 32) there is no reason to dismiss the chapter as late. However, the saying about the desolating sacrilege in Mark 13:14 is usually not accepted as authentic by scholars, who instead tie it to later events, e.g., the failed attempt by Caligula to erect statue of himself in the temple 39/40 ce, Pilate’s bringing standards into Jerusalem, or Titus’s entry into the Holy of Holies.78 A common argument against the authenticity of the saying is that there are no similar traditions ascribed to Jesus elsewhere. For example, James Crossley states, “If the historical Jesus did make such a prediction more would surely be said about it in the synoptic tradition and so there is good reason to doubt the argument for the historicity of Mk 13.14.”79 But there are several reasons for why Jesus likely would have said something like that. First, the saying is entirely plausible in connection to the prediction of the destruction of the temple, which most scholars, including Crossley, takes as originating with Jesus. Second, Jesus appears to have been strongly influenced by the prophecies found in Daniel. Like other Jews he considered Daniel not as a writer from the time of Antiochus iv Epiphanes, but as an exilic prophet whose predictions applied to his own time. Daniel’s influence on Jesus’s expectations for the end time is evident also in the prophecy about the arrival of the Son of Man (Mark 13:26; Dan 7:13–14) and likely also in the warnings about sufferings.80 Third, the prophecy about the desolating sacrilege, like that about the Son of Man, did not materialize.81 Although scholars point to various possible “fulfilments,” as mentioned above, they do not fit very well. A basic facet in historical Jesus research is to probe why a certain tradition appears in the early texts.82 In this case, the most obvious answer is to ascribe the expectation that the temple would be defiled to Jesus, since there are no reasons for why the church would have invented the saying. Instead the church appears to have struggled with the prediction. Mark’s enigmatic note, “let the reader understand,” may encourage his readers to interpret the saying, which on the surface appears to have been a failed prophecy, in light of later events, e.g., the crisis during Caligula’s time. Alternatively, the saying is attributed to Jesus, i.e., “let the reader (of Daniel) understand.”83 In either case, Jesus’s prediction about the coming desolating sacrilege provides evidence that his apocalyptic imaginations included both defilement and destruction of the temple in line with biblical prophecies such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

The anticipation of the defilement of the temple offers an interpretative key for understanding Jesus’s violent reaction in the temple. Simply put, Jesus believed the temple was defiled because it was supposed to become defiled at the end time. This explains the rage that he expressed. His last visit to Jerusalem began with an extraordinary entry whereby he acted as a royal character riding into Jerusalem and being hailed by his supporters as a Davidic king (Mark 11:9–10; Zech 9:9), which was followed by his enacted prophecy about destruction in the temple. These actions strongly suggest that Jesus was convinced that God’s reign would begin instantaneously, which also implies that the temple had already begun to be defiled, and that destruction was looming overhead.84 Jesus shared these expectations with the Qumran sectarians, i.e., it did not matter what the priesthood did—the temple was perceived as defiled because it was bound to be defiled and destroyed in the end times.

8 Conclusion

Jesus’s action in the temple should be understood against the backdrop of the apocalyptic currents of his time. Jewish literature from the late Second Temple period testifies to intense speculations concerning the end time in which the temple played a central role. Common for these apocalyptic scenarios was that the temple would become perfect as a true dwelling place for God, whether in a renewed form or as a new building (after destruction). Coupled with these predictions is the critique, inspired by prophets such as Ezekiel, that the priesthood was corrupt and the temple defiled. Although these accusations came to the fore in connection with the Maccabean crisis with its infamous defilement of the temple by Antiochus, they were reinterpreted by later generations as pertaining to their own time. Thereby, there was an apocalyptic anticipation that the temple would become defiled in the eschaton. A critique against the priesthood is a well-known motif in the sectarian literature from the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is noteworthy that the accusations of the worst kind of defilements of the temple belong to the latest phase of the sectarian writings. I outlined a trajectory from disputes relating to specific halakic issues belonging to an early phase, to general and overall exaggerated charges of a later period. One important factor behind this development is the anticipation of the defilement of the temple, which belongs to the final age before God’s visitation when humanity is under the sway of Belial. In other words, the temple was supposed to become defiled and hence it was perceived as though it was. I have argued that Jesus’s action is intelligible from this perspective. Anticipating the defilement and destruction of the temple as part of the end time scenario, Jesus enacted its demise symbolically by attacking people and things. It is inconceivable that Jesus would have acted in this way without being angry about something, without protesting against current practice. Instead he undoubtedly protested against the current defiled state of temple practice, although we cannot know if there was a specific aspect at which he aimed his anger. Thus, in broad strokes Jesus’s views on the temple are reminiscent of those of the Qumran movement. Like the Qumran sectarians, Jesus would have perceived the temple as defiled and expected a new perfect temple to take its place, and the priests were doomed to fail regardless of their conduct.

1 For an overview of the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the study of the historical Jesus, see Wayne McCready, “The Historical Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Whose Historical Jesus, ed. William E. Arnal and Michel R. Desjardins (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1997), 190–211; James C. VanderKam and James Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002), 330–45. James H. Charlesworth, ed., Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Doubleday, 1992). For comparative thematic works, see, e.g., Mary L. Coloe and Tom Thatcher, eds., John, Qumran, and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Sixty Years of Discovery and Debate (Atlanta: sbl, 2011); Simon J. Joseph, Jesus, Q, and the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Judaic Approach to Q (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012); Albert L. A. Hogeterp, Expectations of the End: A Comparative Traditio-Historical Study of Eschatological, Apocalyptic, and Messianic Ideas in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2009).

2 My presupposition is that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet in line with the reconstructions articulated by Ben F. Meyer, The Aims of Jesus (London: scm Press, 1979); E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (London: scm Press, 1985); Paula Fredriksen, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999); Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); and John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, 5 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994–2016).

3 For a survey of the scholarly opinions on this question, see Klyne R. Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” in Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence, ed. Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 429–80; Jostein Ådna, “Jesus and the Temple,” in vol. 3 of Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus, ed. Tom Holmén and Stanley E. Porter (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 2635–75.

4 Among those who reject the historicity of the event is David Seeley who argues that the story is a literary creation of Mark; David Seeley, “Jesus’ Temple Act,” cbq 55/2 (1993): 263–83. Also George Buchanan traces the origin of the story to the early church; George Wesley Buchanan, “Symbolic Money-Changers in the Temple,” nts 37/2 (1991): 280–90. Tobias Hägerland points out that scholars who reject the criteria of authenticity appear to take an agnostic stance on the question of historicity of the event; Tobias Hägerland, “The Future of Criteria in Historical Jesus Research,” jshj 13/1 (2015): 43–65 (57–59).

5 Adela Yarbro Collins, “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” in Antiquity and Humanity: Essays on Ancient Religion and Philosophy: Presented to Hans Dieter Betz on His 70th Birthday (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001), 45–61. See also Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 435–39.

6 Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb, eds., Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010).

7 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 61.

8 The versions in Matthew and Luke display a couple of examples of the minor agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark, which scholars who reject the Q hypothesis usually highlight. In contrast to Mark where the citations of the prophets are presented as a question (“Is it not written . . .”), both Matthew and Luke present the quotations as positive statements (“It is written . . .”). The phrase, “for all the nations” from Isa 56:7 (Mark 11:17) is missing in both Matthew and Luke.

9 All citations from the Bible are from the New Revised Standard Version.

10 Ådna, “Jesus and the Temple,” 2640; Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 450–51; Collins, “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” 58–59.

11 Fredriksen (Jesus of Nazareth, 232) instead argues that given the masses of people during Passover, the priests would not have noticed Jesus’s actions.

12 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 69–71.

13 Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 451.

14 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 70.

15 Craig A. Evans, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple: Cleansing or Portent of Destruction?” in Jesus in Context: Temple, Purity and Restoration, ed. Bruce D. Chilton and Craig A. Evans (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 395–439.

16 Meyer, The Aims of Jesus, 170. Snodgrass also finds support for the two aspects although he does not agree that the act was primarily a symbol of destruction; Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 466. John Dominic Crossan views the act as a symbolic destruction of the temple, the symbol of “all that was nonegalitarian, patronal, and even oppressive on both the religious and the political level”; John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 360.

17 So, e.g., Barry Smith states, “Jesus’ indignation would have been righteous, moreover, owing to his belief that moral laxity was at the root of the practices of exchanging money and selling animals in the temple. It would have been an example of expediency taking priority over the proper use of the temple for worship.” Barry D Smith, “Objections to the Authenticity of Mark 11:17 Reconsidered,” wtj 54/2 (1992): 255–71 (265). Also Ådna argues that the saying of Jesus is authentic and claims that there is far-reaching agreement in recent scholarship that the temple act is historical and his temple saying authentic,” see Ådna, “Jesus and the Temple,” 2646–54 (2653–54) and Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 453–62. See also Alexander J. M. Wedderburn, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple: A Key or a Puzzle?” znw 97/1 (2006): 1–22. He points to the abuse of the poor by the temple leadership and the wealth of the temple. Still, in his assessment the protest is directed more against commercialism than corruption. Reed and Crossan argue that the first part of the saying from Jer 7:11 (“den of robbers”) fits with Jesus’s action but that Isa 56:7 (“My house . . .”) does not; see John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), 262.

18 Collins, “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” 48. So also Timothy Wardle, The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 164.

19 Cf. the heading in nrsv: “Jesus Cleanses the Temple.”

20 Regrettably, scholars do not normally explain in what sense the temple has become “impure” or what Jesus’s “cleansing” would entail, or whether they use the terms metaphorically or not. A notable exceptions is Eyal Regev, “Moral Impurity and the Temple in Early Christianity in Light of Ancient Greek Practice and Qumranic Ideology,” htr 97/4 (2004): 383–411. For an in depth analysis of various aspects of purity, see Jonathan Klawans, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

21 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 63. Cf. Collins’s critique against this perspective; Collins, “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” 48.

22 Bruce Chilton is an exception; Bruce D. Chilton, The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Program within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992).

23 Craig A. Evans, Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (Leiden: Brill, 1995), 319–80; idem, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple,” 395–439.

24 Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 455–60. He states, “It would be naïve to argue that corruption was not a factor” (p. 460), although he sees commercialism as a greater motivating factor. Wardle also sees a symbolic enactment of the destruction of the temple, but this is not the main motivation; Wardle, The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity, 177–81.

25 Hans Dieter Betz, “Jesus and the Purity of the Temple (Mark 11:15–18): A Comparative Approach,” jbl 116/3 (1997): 469. Although he rejects the idea that Jesus opposed sacrificial worship per se, his conclusion still sounds as though he did, since Jesus is contrasting two forms of Temple worship, i.e., sacrifices and prayer: “A choice had to be made between true worship as prayer and the commercialism now dominating the Temple” (469). While making the point that sacrifices cost money and prayer does not, and that Jesus is contrasting prayer and sacrifices, Betz still holds that Jesus attacks the commercialism, not sacrifices “in principle” (468). Betz also connects Jesus’s view on the temple with his alleged preference for internal purity over external ritual purity (470).

26 Collins, “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” 58.

27 Peter Richardson, “Why Turn the Tables? Jesus’ Protest in the Temple Precincts,” sblsp 31 (1992): 507–23. Cf. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “Jesus and the Money Changers (Mark 11:15–17; John 2:13–17),” rb 107 (2000): 42–55.

28 Regev, “Moral Impurity and the Temple,” 397–402. Additional interpretations that have not gained wide acceptance should also be mentioned: (1) Jesus attempted to reform the cult in line with his alternative view on sacrifices and purity as suggested by Bruce Chilton, The Temple of Jesus. (2) Jesus purposely offered a new way of atonement to the sacrificial service through his upcoming death, advocated by Jostein Ådna, “Jesus and the Temple,” 2668–75; Jostein Ådna, “Jesus’ Symbolic Act in the Temple (Mark 11:15–17): The Replacement of the Sacrificial Cult by His Atoning Death,” in Gemeinde ohne Tempel: Zur Substituierung und Transformation des Jerusalemer Tempels und seines Kults im Alten Testament, antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999), 461–75. (3) Jesus intended to start a revolution, cf. Samuel G. F. Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots: A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive Christianity (New York: Scribner’s, 1967), 331–36.

29 Jonathan Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 222–45.

30 For scholars who view this action as an interpretative key, see Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 460–62.

31 Joachim Jeremias, Jesus’ Promise to the Nations (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 65–66. See Ådna, “Jesus and the Temple,” 2662.

32 Wedderburn, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple,” 10.

33 Meyer, The Aims of Jesus, 180.

34 Sanders refers to the objection by Professor Moule who in a conversation suggested that breaking a pot like Jeremiah (19:10) would have been a better symbol; Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 70. Dunn comments, “that the symbolism of Jesus’ action spoke of the Temple’s destruction is certainly possible, though the point is hardly as clear-cut as Sanders assumed.” James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, vol. 1 of Christianity in the Making (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 639. For arguments against the symbolism of destruction, see Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 465.

35 See also Matt 26:60–62; Acts 6:14, cf. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 71–76 and Collins, “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” 49. For a critique of Collins’s thesis, which Sanders dismissed as a possible, but faulty, hypothesis before anyone (including Collins) proposed it, see p. 67.

36 The exception is Mark 11:17, which is considered unhistorical by Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 66.

37 Some still see a protest implied as well. Morna Hooker argues that Jesus’s action symbolises destruction but as a warning—not a prediction—aimed at the worshippers. The critique by Jesus is obvious and well captured in the citations of the prophets by Jesus. She posits the question: “Was Jesus’ action perhaps intended as a prophetic drama signifying the rejection of the worship taking place in the temple?” (italics original); Morna D. Hooker, The Signs of a Prophet: The Prophetic Actions of Jesus (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2010), 47.

38 Fredriksen, Jesus of Nazareth, 210.

39 Ehrman, Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, 212–14.

40 Ibid., 213.

41 Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 636–40.

42 Snodgrass writes, “Even if we do not understand all the details, clearly Jesus thought that something was woefully wrong with the most sacred place in Israel.” Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 474.

43 Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 638.

44 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 65–66.

45 Ibid., 67.

46 Ibid., 86. Insightfully, Sanders understands John’s emphasis that he did not see a temple in the city (Rev 22:21) as a polemic against the common expectation of an end-time temple.

47 Sanders does not include the text because it is unclear what the reference to miqdash adam refers to, i.e., a temple among humans or a temple consisting of men, ibid., 84. But scholars today typically distinguish between different temples in the text: an eschatological temple (line 3), the community as a temple of men (line 6), and a brief reference to the previous temple that was destroyed because of the people’s sins (lines 5–6), see Hogeterp, Expectations of the End, 66; Devorah Dimant, “4QFlorilegium and the Idea of the Community as Temple,” in Hellenica et Judaica: Hommage À Valentin Nikiprowetzky, ed. A. Caquot, M. Hadas-Lebel et J. Riaud (Leuven: Peeters, 1986), 165–89 and Wardle, The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity, 151–53; George J. Brooke, “The Ten Temples in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Temple and Worship in Biblical Israel, ed. John Day (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 417–34.

48 Six copies were discovered at Qumran in caves 1, 2, 4, 5, and 11. Drawing on Ezek 40–48 a visionary receives a guided tour of a Jerusalem of gigantic proportions. For an analysis, see Lorenzo DiTomasso, The Dead Sea New Jerusalem Text: Contents and Contexts (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005). For references to the future temple, see also Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple, 164.

49 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 77–87.

50 Ibid., 89.

51 Evans, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple,” 408–12.

52 Collins, “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” 53; Evans, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple,” 320–37. Evans tries to get around the problem by looking for “patterns or themes” (320). However, the destruction of the temple must have had a major impact on the reflections on how the temple was run.

53 Evans, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple,” 435.

54 Based on an analysis of almost the same sources as Evans, Wardle states, “there is good reason to think that the portrayal of priestly rapacity and corruption in these sources is founded on solid historical grounds”, Wardle, The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity, 180. Although at times Evans claims that the texts only show that the priests were believed to have been corrupt and that we cannot know if these allegations were factual, at other times this fine distinction between perception and reality is lost. For example, he concludes, “Since there is significant evidence of greed and corruption among the ruling priests, particularly among some of the high priestly families (especially that of Annas) . . .”; and see p. 428 “we cannot escape the conclusion that in all likelihood the high priesthood of Jesus’ time was corrupt (or at least was assumed so) and that Jesus’ action in the temple is direct evidence of this.” Evans, “Jesus’ Action in the Temple,” 395–439. The finer distinction is not noted by all readers; e.g., Snodgrass writes, “Sometimes people doubt corruption was much of a factor in the administration of the temple . . . but the evidence is overwhelming that corruption of various sorts was a very real problem. No one has done more to highlight the corruption than Craig Evans . . .”; Snodgrass, “The Temple Incident,” 455–56.

55 Ådna, “Jesus and the Temple,” 2655. See also Jostein Ådna, Jesu Stellung zum Tempel: Die Tempelaktion und das Tempelwort als Ausdruck seiner messianischen Sendung (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 335–42.

56 Translation from James H. Charlesworth, ed., Damascus Document, War Scroll and Related Documents, vol. 2 of The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck/Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995).

57 One further example of harsh critique concerns how Israel “defiled the sanctuary” by sin at a time when the house of Peleg departed from the city according cd 20:22–23, but the text does not specify how.

58 The charge of corruption is reminiscent of the critique by the prophets against the wealthy, e.g., Mal 3:5; Jer 7:5–6; Amos 2:6–7; 4:1.

59 D as a whole gives evidence of different views on the temple; legislation concerning the cult implies a continued association with the temple, e.g., cd 16:13–17; 9:13–14; 11:17–21; 4Q266 5 ii; 4Q271 2. There is one legal case where the author warns about the possibility of defilement of the temple, but there is no explicit critique: cd 12:1–2 “Let no man lie with a woman in the city of the sanctuary to defile the city of the sanctuary with their pollution.” See Joseph M. Baumgarten et al., djd 18.

60 Charlotte Hempel, The Laws of the Damascus Document: Sources, Tradition, and Redaction (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 37–38.

61 Ibid., 69.

62 See Michael O. Wise, “Dating the Teacher of Righteousness and the Floruit of His Movement,” jbl 122/1 (2003): 53–87. John J. Collins, Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 88–121. See also Gregory L. Doudna, “The Sect of the Qumran Texts and its Leading Role in the Temple in Jerusalem During Much of the First Century bce: Toward a New Framework for Understanding,” in Qumran Revisited: A Reassessment of the Archaeology of the Site and its Texts, ed. David Stacey and Gregory Doudna (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2013), 75–124 (81–82).

63 Albert Hogeterp distinguishes between early (pre-63 bce) and late (post-63 bce) pesharim based on palaeography and the occurrence of the term “Kittim,” which signifies the Romans. Hogeterp, Expectations of the End, 59–74.

64 According to 4QpPsa 4:8–9, the Wicked priest attempted to kill the Righteous one and destroy “the Law which he sent to him.” See also 1QpHab 11:4–8 for a similar accusation.

65 Whereas in biblical law moral impurity concerns three grave sins, i.e., sexual transgressions, idolatry, and murder (e.g., Lev 18:24–30; 19:31; 20:1–3; Num 35:33–34), the accusations against the priests in the Admonition also associate corruption with impurity; see Klawans, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism, 26–31.

66 If the origin of the sect is placed towards the very end of the 2nd century bce then the Hasmoneans have held the high priestly office for some time. For the view that no dispute over the high priestly office is evident, see Collins, Beyond the Qumran Community, 95–98. In a survey article on calendars from Qumran, Helen Jacobus states succinctly: “There is no unequivocal evidence from the manuscripts themselves, or from the classical sources, of any kind of calendrical polarisation, nor that different calendars were the cause of a schism, or that they resulted in politicised calendar difference.” Helen Jacobus, “Calendars in the Qumran Collection,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and the Concept of a Library, ed. Sidnie White Crawford and Cecilia Wassen (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 217–243 (241).

67 I do not include the metaphors by which temple imagery is applied to the community in 1QS in this trajectory since they pertain to the self-identity of the community, emphasizing its holiness, and reveal very little on the attitude towards the temple other than its holy status. See Cecilia Wassen, “Do You Have to Be Pure in a Metaphorical Temple? Sanctuary Metaphors and Construction of Sacred Space in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Paul’s Letters,” in Purity, Holiness, and Identity in Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Memory of Susan Haber, ed. Carl S. Erlich, Anders Runesson and Eileen Schuller (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 55–86.

68 William Loader, “Sex and Conflict Development in Qumran Literature” (unpublished).

69 John Joseph Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature, 2nd ed., (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 141.

70 Ibid., 129. This passage appears in the part that was likely composed in the 160s bce. The document was composed during the crisis under Antiochus iv Epiphanes, but was later updated to include references to Hasmoneans and Herod the Great.

71 For the close relationship between defilement and destruction in this passage, see Brant Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), 309–14.

72 According to Eshel the document may have been composed in the second half of the first century bce, see Hanan Eshel, “4Q390, the 490-Year Prophecy, and the Calendrical History of the Second Temple Period,” in Enoch and Qumran Origins: New Light on a Forgotten Connection, ed. Gabriele Boccaccini (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 102–10.

73 This intricate calculation of time refers both to periods of 70 years (7 × 70 = 490) (4Q390 1 2) and 49 years, i.e., jubilees (10 × 49 = 490) (4Q390 1 7; 2 i 6). The numbering of the fragments follows that of Donald W. Parry and Emanuel Tov, eds., Additional Genres and Unclassified Texts, vol. 6 of The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 112–15.

74 4Q390 2 i 8–10 reads, “they have chosen to enrich themselves by ill-gotten wealth and illegal profit [. . .] they will rob, oppress one another, and they will defile my temple [they will profane my sabbaths,] they will for[ge]t my fes]tivals, and with fo[reign)ers [t]hey will profane their offspr[ing]. Their priests will commit violence.” See Eshel, “4Q390, the 490-Year Prophecy,” 104–5.

75 George J. Brooke, “Ten Temples,” 430–31.

76 Translation from Donald W. Parry and Emanuel Tov, eds., Exegetical Texts, vol. 2 of The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 2–3.

77 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 89–90.

78 There are exceptions, see Brant Pitre (Jesus, the Tribulation, 314–59) argues that the section 13:14–27 goes back to Jesus.

79 James G. Crossley, The Date of Mark’s Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity (London: T&T Clark, 2004), 23.

80 Nicholas Taylor notes that “first-century Jews regarded Daniel as an exilic prophet of events yet to be fulfilled, and would not have connected these texts with Antiochus”; Nicholas H. Taylor, “Palestinian Christianity and the Caligula Crisis: Social and Historical Reconstruction,” jsnt 61 (1996): 2. There are additional overlaps with Daniel in the section; Mark 13:19 is reminiscent of Dan 12:1; see Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation, 300.

81 Pitre (Jesus, the Tribulation, 356) also points to the discontinuity of the tradition in the early church. In agreement with, e.g., Ehrman (Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, 145–48), I hold that Jesus expected a coming cosmic figure (an angel?) who would judge the world.

82 According to Thomas Kazen, the traditional authenticity criteria have limited usefulness, instead “we must look for reasonable suggestions that may satisfactorily explain the development and elaboration of the Jesus tradition, taking the socio-religious and historical context into account.” See Thomas Kazen, Scripture, Interpretation, or Authority? Motives and Arguments in Jesus’ Halakic Conflicts (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 28.

83 Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation, 310–13.

84 For the view of Jesus’s anticipation of the imminence of the kingdom during the last Passover, see Fredriksen, Jesus of Nazareth.

  • 5

    Adela Yarbro Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” in Antiquity and Humanity: Essays on Ancient Religion and Philosophy: Presented to Hans Dieter Betz on His 70th Birthday (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck2001) 45–61. See also Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 435–39.

  • 6

    Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb eds.Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans2010).

  • 7

    SandersJesus and Judaism61.

  • 10

    Ådna“Jesus and the Temple” 2640; Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 450–51; Collins “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 58–59.

  • 12

    SandersJesus and Judaism69–71.

  • 13

    Snodgrass“The Temple Incident” 451.

  • 14

    SandersJesus and Judaism70.

  • 15

    Craig A. Evans“Jesus’ Action in the Temple: Cleansing or Portent of Destruction?” in Jesus in Context: Temple Purity and Restorationed. Bruce D. Chilton and Craig A. Evans (Leiden: Brill1997) 395–439.

  • 16

    MeyerThe Aims of Jesus170. Snodgrass also finds support for the two aspects although he does not agree that the act was primarily a symbol of destruction; Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 466. John Dominic Crossan views the act as a symbolic destruction of the temple the symbol of “all that was nonegalitarian patronal and even oppressive on both the religious and the political level”; John Dominic Crossan The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins 1991) 360.

  • 18

    Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 48. So also Timothy Wardle The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2010) 164.

  • 21

    SandersJesus and Judaism63. Cf. Collins’s critique against this perspective; Collins “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 48.

  • 23

    Craig A. EvansJesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (Leiden: Brill1995) 319–80; idem “Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 395–439.

  • 24

    Snodgrass“The Temple Incident” 455–60. He states “It would be naïve to argue that corruption was not a factor” (p. 460) although he sees commercialism as a greater motivating factor. Wardle also sees a symbolic enactment of the destruction of the temple but this is not the main motivation; Wardle The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity 177–81.

  • 26

    Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 58.

  • 28

    Regev“Moral Impurity and the Temple” 397–402. Additional interpretations that have not gained wide acceptance should also be mentioned: (1) Jesus attempted to reform the cult in line with his alternative view on sacrifices and purity as suggested by Bruce Chilton The Temple of Jesus. (2) Jesus purposely offered a new way of atonement to the sacrificial service through his upcoming death advocated by Jostein Ådna “Jesus and the Temple” 2668–75; Jostein Ådna “Jesus’ Symbolic Act in the Temple (Mark 11:15–17): The Replacement of the Sacrificial Cult by His Atoning Death” in Gemeinde ohne Tempel: Zur Substituierung und Transformation des Jerusalemer Tempels und seines Kults im Alten Testament antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 1999) 461–75. (3) Jesus intended to start a revolution cf. Samuel G. F. Brandon Jesus and the Zealots: A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive Christianity (New York: Scribner’s 1967) 331–36.

  • 29

    Jonathan KlawansPurity Sacrifice and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press2006) 222–45.

  • 31

    Joachim JeremiasJesus’ Promise to the Nations (Philadelphia: Fortress Press1982) 65–66. See Ådna “Jesus and the Temple” 2662.

  • 32

    Wedderburn“Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 10.

  • 33

    MeyerThe Aims of Jesus180.

  • 38

    FredriksenJesus of Nazareth210.

  • 39

    EhrmanJesus Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium212–14.

  • 40

    Ibid.213.

  • 41

    DunnJesus Remembered636–40.

  • 42

    Snodgrass writes“Even if we do not understand all the details clearly Jesus thought that something was woefully wrong with the most sacred place in Israel.” Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 474.

  • 43

    DunnJesus Remembered638.

  • 44

    SandersJesus and Judaism65–66.

  • 45

    Ibid.67.

  • 46

    Ibid.86. Insightfully Sanders understands John’s emphasis that he did not see a temple in the city (Rev 22:21) as a polemic against the common expectation of an end-time temple.

  • 49

    SandersJesus and Judaism77–87.

  • 50

    Ibid.89.

  • 51

    Evans“Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 408–12.

  • 52

    Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 53; Evans “Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 320–37. Evans tries to get around the problem by looking for “patterns or themes” (320). However the destruction of the temple must have had a major impact on the reflections on how the temple was run.

  • 53

    Evans“Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 435.

  • 55

    Ådna“Jesus and the Temple” 2655. See also Jostein Ådna Jesu Stellung zum Tempel: Die Tempelaktion und das Tempelwort als Ausdruck seiner messianischen Sendung (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2000) 335–42.

  • 60

    Charlotte HempelThe Laws of the Damascus Document: Sources Tradition and Redaction (Leiden: Brill1998) 37–38.

  • 61

    Ibid.69.

  • 70

    Ibid.129. This passage appears in the part that was likely composed in the 160s bce. The document was composed during the crisis under Antiochus iv Epiphanes but was later updated to include references to Hasmoneans and Herod the Great.

  • 74

    4Q390 2 i 8–10 reads“they have chosen to enrich themselves by ill-gotten wealth and illegal profit [. . .] they will rob oppress one another and they will defile my temple [they will profane my sabbaths] they will for[ge]t my fes]tivals and with fo[reign)ers [t]hey will profane their offspr[ing]. Their priests will commit violence.” See Eshel “4Q390 the 490-Year Prophecy” 104–5.

  • 75

    George J. Brooke“Ten Temples” 430–31.

  • 77

    SandersJesus and Judaism89–90.

  • 79

    James G. CrossleyThe Date of Mark’s Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity (London: T&T Clark2004) 23.

  • 83

    PitreJesus the Tribulation310–13.

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The Use of the Dead Sea Scrolls for Interpreting Jesus’s Action in the Temple

in Dead Sea Discoveries

Sections

References

5

Adela Yarbro Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple,” in Antiquity and Humanity: Essays on Ancient Religion and Philosophy: Presented to Hans Dieter Betz on His 70th Birthday (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck2001) 45–61. See also Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 435–39.

6

Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb eds.Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans2010).

7

SandersJesus and Judaism61.

10

Ådna“Jesus and the Temple” 2640; Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 450–51; Collins “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 58–59.

12

SandersJesus and Judaism69–71.

13

Snodgrass“The Temple Incident” 451.

14

SandersJesus and Judaism70.

15

Craig A. Evans“Jesus’ Action in the Temple: Cleansing or Portent of Destruction?” in Jesus in Context: Temple Purity and Restorationed. Bruce D. Chilton and Craig A. Evans (Leiden: Brill1997) 395–439.

16

MeyerThe Aims of Jesus170. Snodgrass also finds support for the two aspects although he does not agree that the act was primarily a symbol of destruction; Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 466. John Dominic Crossan views the act as a symbolic destruction of the temple the symbol of “all that was nonegalitarian patronal and even oppressive on both the religious and the political level”; John Dominic Crossan The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins 1991) 360.

18

Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 48. So also Timothy Wardle The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2010) 164.

21

SandersJesus and Judaism63. Cf. Collins’s critique against this perspective; Collins “Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 48.

23

Craig A. EvansJesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (Leiden: Brill1995) 319–80; idem “Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 395–439.

24

Snodgrass“The Temple Incident” 455–60. He states “It would be naïve to argue that corruption was not a factor” (p. 460) although he sees commercialism as a greater motivating factor. Wardle also sees a symbolic enactment of the destruction of the temple but this is not the main motivation; Wardle The Jerusalem Temple and Early Christian Identity 177–81.

26

Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 58.

28

Regev“Moral Impurity and the Temple” 397–402. Additional interpretations that have not gained wide acceptance should also be mentioned: (1) Jesus attempted to reform the cult in line with his alternative view on sacrifices and purity as suggested by Bruce Chilton The Temple of Jesus. (2) Jesus purposely offered a new way of atonement to the sacrificial service through his upcoming death advocated by Jostein Ådna “Jesus and the Temple” 2668–75; Jostein Ådna “Jesus’ Symbolic Act in the Temple (Mark 11:15–17): The Replacement of the Sacrificial Cult by His Atoning Death” in Gemeinde ohne Tempel: Zur Substituierung und Transformation des Jerusalemer Tempels und seines Kults im Alten Testament antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 1999) 461–75. (3) Jesus intended to start a revolution cf. Samuel G. F. Brandon Jesus and the Zealots: A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive Christianity (New York: Scribner’s 1967) 331–36.

29

Jonathan KlawansPurity Sacrifice and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press2006) 222–45.

31

Joachim JeremiasJesus’ Promise to the Nations (Philadelphia: Fortress Press1982) 65–66. See Ådna “Jesus and the Temple” 2662.

32

Wedderburn“Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 10.

33

MeyerThe Aims of Jesus180.

38

FredriksenJesus of Nazareth210.

39

EhrmanJesus Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium212–14.

40

Ibid.213.

41

DunnJesus Remembered636–40.

42

Snodgrass writes“Even if we do not understand all the details clearly Jesus thought that something was woefully wrong with the most sacred place in Israel.” Snodgrass “The Temple Incident” 474.

43

DunnJesus Remembered638.

44

SandersJesus and Judaism65–66.

45

Ibid.67.

46

Ibid.86. Insightfully Sanders understands John’s emphasis that he did not see a temple in the city (Rev 22:21) as a polemic against the common expectation of an end-time temple.

49

SandersJesus and Judaism77–87.

50

Ibid.89.

51

Evans“Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 408–12.

52

Collins“Jesus’ Action in Herod’s Temple” 53; Evans “Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 320–37. Evans tries to get around the problem by looking for “patterns or themes” (320). However the destruction of the temple must have had a major impact on the reflections on how the temple was run.

53

Evans“Jesus’ Action in the Temple” 435.

55

Ådna“Jesus and the Temple” 2655. See also Jostein Ådna Jesu Stellung zum Tempel: Die Tempelaktion und das Tempelwort als Ausdruck seiner messianischen Sendung (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2000) 335–42.

60

Charlotte HempelThe Laws of the Damascus Document: Sources Tradition and Redaction (Leiden: Brill1998) 37–38.

61

Ibid.69.

70

Ibid.129. This passage appears in the part that was likely composed in the 160s bce. The document was composed during the crisis under Antiochus iv Epiphanes but was later updated to include references to Hasmoneans and Herod the Great.

74

4Q390 2 i 8–10 reads“they have chosen to enrich themselves by ill-gotten wealth and illegal profit [. . .] they will rob oppress one another and they will defile my temple [they will profane my sabbaths] they will for[ge]t my fes]tivals and with fo[reign)ers [t]hey will profane their offspr[ing]. Their priests will commit violence.” See Eshel “4Q390 the 490-Year Prophecy” 104–5.

75

George J. Brooke“Ten Temples” 430–31.

77

SandersJesus and Judaism89–90.

79

James G. CrossleyThe Date of Mark’s Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity (London: T&T Clark2004) 23.

83

PitreJesus the Tribulation310–13.

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