Hebrews and the Temple

Attitudes to the Temple in Second Temple Judaism and in Hebrews


In Hebrews and the Temple Philip Church argues that the silence of Hebrews concerning the temple does not mean that the author is not interested in the temple. He writes to encourage his readers to abandon their preoccupation with it and to follow Jesus to their eschatological goal. Following extensive discussions of attitudes to the temple in the literature of Second Temple Judaism, Church turns to Hebrews and argues that the temple is presented there as a symbolic foreshadowing of the eschatological dwelling of God with his people. Now that the eschatological moment has arrived with the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God, preoccupation with the temple and its rituals must cease.

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Philip Church, Ph.D. (2012), Otago University, is a Senior Research Fellow at Laidlaw College, Auckland, NZ. He has published articles in several edited books and in academic journals, including the Westminster Theological Journal and the Tyndale Bulletin.
'This is a well-written and stimulating monograph with extensive footnotes, and it makes a very strong case for the centrality of the temple to the argument of the Hebrews (...) As a resource for texts concerning the temple in Judaism it is valuable, and as a discussion of the temple in Hebrews it is something that will need to be engaged with in the future. As such this is highly recommended.
- Steve Smith, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 40 (5)

'This is a magisterial and magnificent work of scholarship (...) a “must have” work for every scholar working on the Epistle to the Hebrews. (...) This monograph is a credit to the author and an outstanding example of current Kiwi biblical scholarship.'
- Peter Carell, Christchurch, Stimulus - The New Zealand Journal of Christian Thought and Practice, July 2018.

'(...) a superb study of attitudes towards the temple (...) anyone who is serious about interpreting this fascinating text will have to engage with Church's magisterial contribution.
- Harold W. Attridge, Yale Divinity School, Biblica 99.2 (2018)

'Church has provided us with an important study on the temple symbolism in Hebrews that is sure to provoke ongoing and spirited debate on this issue.'
- Brian C. Small, Grand Rivers Pisgah United Methodist Church, Review and Expositor 115, 4, 2018.

'Ch. legt eine geschlossene und spannende Interpretation des Hebr vor (...) auch wer die Akzente an Schlüsselstellen anders setzt, wird dieses Buch mit Gewinn nutzen und muss sich mit ihm befassen. Es hat sehr hohes Gewicht für die Hebr-Forschung. Eine umfangreiche Bibliographie (437–513, allerdings mit Lücken bei der jüngeren deutschsprachigen Literatur), Sach-, Autoren- und Stellen-Register (514–615) steigern den Wert des Bandes.'

- Martin Karrer, Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal, Biblische Zeitschrift 63 (2019). "The book certainly repays a close reading. Church’s attention to complex and diverse corpora of ancient literature provides an opportunity to reexamine various interpretive assumptions.(...) My thanks again to Church for advancing an important discussion."
- Max Botner, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, RBL 07/2019. "His close attention to detail leads to several very ingenious readings (...) Students of Hebrews and other Second Temple literature, no matter if they accept his main argument or not, will want to have continued access to this work for its broad and deep engagement with the literature and its many insightful readings of Hebrews."
Amy Peeler, The Journal of Theological Studies 20.2, October 2019.
Scholars interested in the literature of Second Temple Judaism, in the book of Hebrews and in temple symbolism, as well as academic libraries.