Monday, January 18, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: Assertion of His Authority in the Temple

Of the above subject Craig writes the following:

At his trial, according to the Synoptics, a centerpiece of the case brought against Jesus was a saying on his part having to do with the temple’s destruction and Jesus’ rebuilding it in three days (Mark 14:58), a saying also attested in John 2:19.  In Jewish thinking God is the one who built the temple (Ex. 15:17; Jub. 1.17; cf. 1En. 90.28-29; 11q Temple 29.8-10) and who threatens the destruction of the temple (Jer. 7:12-13; 26:4-6, 9; cf. 1 En. 90.28-29).  The charges brought against Jesus, that he threatened the destruction of the temple and promised to rebuild it, show that he was being charged with arrogating to himself divine roles.  Jesus’ refusal to respond to these charges provokes the high priest’s direct demand:  “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?”  (Mark 14:61 AT).  The connection between the charge and Ciaphas’s question may be seen by the messianic reading given to 2 Samuel 7:12-14 by one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The passage in Samuel concerns David’s desire to build for God a temple, and the Lord’s reserving that right for David’s son Solomon:

             When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your         
             offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.            
             He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I 
             will be his father and he will be my son. (2 Sam. 7:12-14 RSV)

In scroll 4Q174 this passage is quoted and interpreted as a prophecy of the Messiah:  “He is the branch of David who will arise with the interpreter of the Law who [ ] in Zi [on in the la]st days according as it is written:  ‘I will raise up the tent of David that has falle[n]’ (Amos 9:11), who will arise to save Israel” (1:10-13). It is the Messiah, the Davidic branch prophesied by Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 33:14-16), who will build the temple and will be God’s Son.  Caiaphas’s question, given such messianic expectations, would have been natural, demanding whether Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, God’s Son, who would fulfill this prophecy by destroying the present temple and replacing it with his own.  Jesus’ pretension to be the Messiah could in turn be presented to the Roman authorities as treasonous; hence, his execution as “King of the Jews.” The conspiration of so many factors, each enjoying ratification independently by factors such as multiple attestation, Palestinian milieu, dissimilarity, and so forth, make for an extraordinarily powerful case that Jesus of Nazareth did regard himself as the promised Messiah.1

This series identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus will continue again next week.

Stand firm in Christ,


1. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 307.

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