Nathaniel Vette, University of Edinburgh, ‘”We are Departing Hence”: Mark 15:34-39 and the Divine Presence Leaving the Temple’
A catastrophe as momentous as the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Titus and his troops required theodicy. Pagans and Jews believed that a temple afforded divine protection for the city and its inhabitants. Cities and their temples only fell when they were abandoned by their respective gods. When the Temple and much of Jerusalem was destroyed in the summer of 70 CE, many pagans and Jews would have reached the same conclusion – the God of the Jews had abandoned his Temple allowing its destruction. One tradition details the dramatic departure of the divine presence on the eve of the Temple’s destruction and is known by sources as diverse as Tacitus, Josephus, 2 Baruch and the Rabbinic corpus. While each offers a different explanation as to how, why and when the divine presence departed, all speak of physical and audible phenomena preceding and precipitating the Temple’s fall. This paper will argue that Mark’s account of Jesus’ cry from the cross and the tearing of the Temple curtain should be considered another variation of this tradition. By seeking to explain the Temple’s destruction in the crucifixion of Jesus, the Gospel takes its place alongside other Jewish theodicies written in the aftermath of the war.
Rachel Danley, University of Aberdeen, ‘Mapping Temple Metaphors onto the Space of Early Jewish Mysticism’
Temple imagery in the writings of Second Temple Judaism provides a significant source for understanding the mystical elements of access to and the indwelling presence of Yahweh. This paper utilises Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) and Critical Spatiality (CS) to examine the way that the Temple provides an embodied and thus multivalent metaphor to conceptualise and construct spaces. This will be illustrated by looking closely at three works which engage multiple Temple metaphors to express their relationship to Yahweh.
First, it will look at the writing of Philo of Alexandria as a diaspora Jew who employed different Temple metaphors to guide his ethical instruction in De somniis 1.215. Next, it will observe how the Yaḥad community at Qumran used Temple metaphors in its mystical practice through the Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice (4Q403 1i.41–46). Lastly, it will examine the Temple alongside dwelling and indwelling language in John 14 to bring further clarity to this passage. Within each of these works, a central concern for purity in relation to the holy presence of Yahweh must be addressed.
Jim Davila, University of St Andrews, ‘The Psychology of Persuasion in the Book of Revelation and 4 Ezra’
In two books, Robert Cialdini has published some of the most important work on the psychology of persuasion. He has articulated key “pre-suasion” factors which draw the listeners’ attention: sex, fear, the self-relevant, the unfinished, and the mysterious. He has also identified seven “pathways” to persuade the listener: reciprocation, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, consistency, and unity. This paper evaluates the use of persuasive techniques in the Book of Revelation and in 4 Ezra. Revelation has already been evaluated in the light of ancient rhetorical handbooks, but not in terms of modern psychology, while there has been minimal attention to persuasion in 4 Ezra. The evidence indicates that John is a highly skilled persuader who uses the full range of persuasion techniques to advance his message. By comparison, the writer of 4 Ezra is a less effective persuader who sometimes gives the reader conflicting persuasive messages.
David Burnett, Marquette, Milwaukee, ‘Star Differs from Star (1 Cor 15:41): Celestial Hierarchicalism and Exodus Tradition in Paul’s Resurrection Mythos’
(paper to be circulated in advance, and discussion with David via Zoom)
Scholars commonly locate the source of Paul’s analogy for the resurrection body in 1 Cor 15:39–49 in the enumerated creatures of Genesis 1. Some have suggested Sir 43:1–10 lies behind the variegated glory of the celestial bodies in 1 Cor 15:41. Paul seems to list each of the respective terrestrial creatures and their bodies in hierarchical order, as he does with the celestial bodies, relating the resurrection body to the later. This suggests Paul envisioned the coming resurrection of the dead resulting in a kind of celestial hierarchicalism. In this paper, I will argue the source for the celestial hierarchicalism apparent in Paul’s resurrection mythos is an apocalyptic reception of Exodus tradition, namely, the hierarchical ascent of the cosmic mountain in Exodus 24. The ascent of Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel, when read in view of its parallels in the Ugarit Baal Cycle and subsequent reception in the Hebrew Bible, sheds considerable light on the development of early Jewish resurrection beliefs, especially the kind we find in 1 Cor 15:41.
Logan Williams, University of Durham, ‘Living beyond Flesh: Philo and Paul’s Mystical Technologies’
This paper explores how Philo and Paul envisage utilising certain technologies to enable humans to live in a mystical, celestial existence. For Philo, circumcision is a technology of bodily self-modification that ‘checks the superfluous impetuosity of the male’ (QE 3.47). Coupled with obedience to Torah, these practices enable men to live in suspension from the epithumiai and pathēmata generated by the sarkic body and therefore bring the incorporeal, noetic aspects of the self to exist in heavenly spaces. Rejecting Torah-observance as effective technologies in this regard, Paul suggests that only correct manipulation of divine pneuma facilitates humans to transform into celestial beings (hagioi) and to live outside the domain of flesh. Initiating a hypothetical conversation between these authors, this paper highlights how Jews were engaging in technological disagreements in antiquity: Philo and Paul advocate differential accounts of the mystical technologies that enable humans to live beyond the domain of quotidian, fleshly bodies.
Ryan D. Collman, University of Edinburgh, ‘Jewish Supersessionism? The Problem of Categorizing Innovation in Ancient Judaism and the New Testament’
In Paul and the Faithfulness of God, N. T. Wright proposes that both Paul and the literature from Qumran engage in a type supersessionism, which he refers to as “Jewish supersessionism” (809–10). While Wright notes the oxymoronic nature of using such a phrase—he uses it somewhat reluctantly and polemically—this highlights an interesting methodological problem: How do we categorize innovation and change in ancient Judaism? Is supersession an apt descriptor or is there a better way to describe the ways in which ancient Jews conceived of innovation in relation to their ancestral traditions and to other Jewish groups? This methodological problem becomes particularly poignant when looking at the variety of perspectives of the Jewish authors in the New Testament and how they speak of dis/continuity and newness is relation to Israel and their ancestral traditions. This paper explores this methodological problem by assessing a variety of texts from Jewish authors (e.g., Jer 31; CD 6.1; 1QpHab 2.3; Acts 21; Gal 3–4; Rom 9–11; Heb 8) that reject and embrace innovation, to demonstrate the various ways in which ancient Jews thought about religious change.