The Temple In Jerusalem: A Monument Of The Imagination – Prof. Simon Goldhill (cambridge University)

The Temple of Jerusalem


Since yesterday’s response from study group members wanting to read this book and then discuss it online was so overwhelming, I decided that we can go ahead and start today! This week we will discuss the first chapter. (For those of you who are just joining in. Please, secure your copy and begin reading the book. (I found a downloadable free copy here and a hard copy here).

On page 7 we read: “The Temple is never just a destroyed building. It has become the most potent symbol of the human search for a lost ideal, an image of former greatness and greatness to come. It is an idea that has prompted struggle, brutal war between cultures and nations, and some of the most moving poetry and art of the Western tradition. A history of the Temple can never be merely an architectural record, nor just an account of religious rituals. We need a special sort of archaeology for this great building of the world, an archaeology that uncovers not so much rock and dust as the sedimented layers of human fantasy, politics and longing.”

Do you agree? Disagree? Why? Why not?

On the page 10 we read: “The ‘new Jerusalem’, the ‘new Temple’ of Jesus, is a central image of Christianity, which opposes an everlasting divine Temple to an earthly temple, made and destroyed by the hands of men, and opposes the community of faithful Christians to the rituals of the Temple. For Christians, the destruction of the Temple heralds the triumph of Christianity. For Christians, the destruction of the Temple heralds the triumph of Christianity.”

Do you agree? Disagree? Why? Why not? Post your comment and let us start this conversation. (Please, consider, sending the link to this page to your friends inviting them to join our study group free!).


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  1. Carmencita Lu

    Which is more important today, temple made of clay and brisks or human body? as Paul wrote that our body is the temple of God the Holy Spirit? I hope,am not out of topic.Just want an answer,please, thanks.

  2. Cynthia

    I am not fond of the terminology that the destruction of the temple heralds the triumph of Christianity…to me it implies something adversarial between Jews and Christians…one groups loss to another groups gain…God did not inrend thst we put our hopes on a manifestation made with hands. God even forwarned Solomon and He is warningbus now. old testament is a foreshadiow.Jesus the fulfillment…a new level for God’s children…a way to access Heaven here on Earth…New Jerusalem is the next level, in Christ, He makes all things new. i see the temple as manefeststion of that which is notseen, the spiritual dimenstion that we as spirits yearn for both within, to each other, and our home (God)…the temple was destroyed yet it remains in our hearts that cannot be destroyed.

  3. Ramon

    As you can see, even among readers of the Bible we can be and frequently are reading different Bibles, different translations, different or even diverging interpretations and in fact different understandings supposedly contained in that same set of books. That is why this forum is so valuable and immensely fruitful. We begin to understand ourselves better by simply looking how distant among ourselves we really are.
    Thanks to all.

  4. Jo. Gray

    Professor Goldhill’s statement “For Christians the destruction of the Temple heralds the triumph of Christianity” has more layers of truth than he had in mind. Many archaeologists will arrive at conclusions acceptable to surface readers but unacceptable to in-depth searchers of divine truth.
    I wish to uncover the focal point of discussion.
    Yeshua (Jesus) predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. and the exiling of the Jews. And it happened exactly as foretold. All who acted on His instructions saved their lives, but the million or more who ignored the prophecy suffered tragedy. May I suggest, this SEALED Jesus’ credentials as the Divine RESCUER of his people.
    The disciples asked Christ Jesus a two pronged question…Jesus replied with a two pronged answer.
    The disciples said, “Tell us, when shall these things [the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple] be? … AND what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?” (Mat 24:3-4)
    Jesus said to them, “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation…is nigh. Then let them…in Judaea flee to the mountains; … let them…in the midst of it depart out;…let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. …woe…in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people… they shall fall by…the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luk 21:20-24)
    When the Roman armies under Cestius briefly encircled Jerusalem then withdrew, the followers of Yeshua left Jerusalem about 3 ½ years before the destruction that followed, and were not caught in that destruction.
    Although they were spared because they had heeded Yeshua’s warning, they undoubtedly were sad to see friends and families die and the Temple destroyed during the siege by the Roman armies under Titus’s. All who heard the Saviour’s warning could have heeded it and been spared.
    Since Yeshua’s prophecy was given in answer to their two-pronged question, it applies to the destruction of the world as well. And although there is no Temple to be destroyed the whole world is the subject of the second half of the prophecy, this time under the forces of a Roman New World Order.

  5. Ramon

    With all due infinitely respect, I must ask, Exactly what is a Christian Jewish or a Messianic Jewish? I need an azimuth here to guide myself in understanding your quest.
    What is or are the basic premises you possit?
    You see, most of the Christians, even including some fundamental differences, even radical ones, understand that Jesus is (in the present) God. So we follow Him. So most of Christianity looks to some kind of future where Jesus is the center.
    However, I may be suffering of severily limited knowledge of Judaism and of Messianic Judaism or Christian Judaism, but most of what I read are references to the Temple, to the Torah, to the customs up to now. And then you try to reference Jesus into that frame, as I understand or misunderstand. I think we may be speaking of different Jesus alright. And then we may be eternally confused.
    I do not ask for credos but at least to basic premises, a reference so that I can understand what you understand and then try to form a mindset of what we are looking at.
    I enjoy this a lot an has become almost indispensable. But we are building a new language here.

  6. gustavo vargas angel

    I just can see in Temple”s destruction, the fullfiling of Jesus profecie, no more, no less; so, I see the next, will be rebuilt in anguish times, almost like today, but now is not the time yet: You must await for some more hard and bitter, maybe.

  7. […] here.) I also suggest that you read the discussions about the first chapter as well. To do so click here. Please, read the chapter first and resist the temptation to simply comment on the quotes I provide […]