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Diversity in Christian Attitudes to the Destruction of the Temple: The Case of Luke-Acts

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

This study explores Christian responses to the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, with a particular focus on examining the ambiguities of the attitude to the Temple found in Luke-Acts. It is argued that a unified Christian attitude should be questioned from a historical perspective. After diagnosing the methodological problems in scholarly discussions, a new approach is proposed: one in which the study of Luke-Acts takes place in relation to the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, using the conceptual framework of Tertullian for this categorisation. This is supported by modern scholarship on the dating of Luke-Acts. The study takes place by situating Luke-Acts within the context of the work of the Apostolic Fathers. Of these, the key texts chosen are 1 Clement and the Epistle of Barnabas. The examination follows after a review of Jewish attitudes to the Temple and its destruction, with an acknowledgement that the boundaries between ‘Judaism’ and ‘Christianity’ are not fixed in the period through to the Bar Kokhba revolt. The study shows that both Jews and Christians developed various attitudes towards the destruction of the Temple at the same time, under the same political circumstances and in different regions. While the Epistle of Barnabas categorically rejected the idea of Temple worship, questioning the legitimacy of any Christian compromise towards the Temple authorities of Jerusalem and their claim to represent the true heritage of Israel, 1 Clement offered a completely opposing view. Through a comparative analysis of Luke-Acts and the other two ‘apostolic’ texts, the study finds that Luke-Acts’s main narrative voice shows a close affinity to 1 Clement and that both reflect the concepts used by contemporaneous Trajanic biographers to assert legitimacy through fulfilling the values of Roman imperial ideology. At the same time, there is a distinctive alternative voice that lies behind Stephen’s speech (Acts 7), which has a strong similarity to the views of the Epistle of Barnabas. This study concludes that the challenge presented to scholars by the Temple attitude found in Luke-Acts’ is due to the existence of diverse responses within the work, evidenced also in other Jewish and Christian texts.
Original languageEnglish
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Award date2018

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