Monday, November 14, 2016

Holiness and the Temple

Thomas King's study of the priestly literature in the Pentateuch includes discussion of holiness and the temple. His description of ancient Israelite belief and practice resonates strongly with the restored Gospel teachings, including latter-day temple worship. He writes:
Another foundational theme implicit in P is the concern for personal holiness, especially reflected in relationship to God and neighbor. In relationship to God, P describes this concern as the need for cleansing from sin and impurity. Based on the same rationale regarding the tabernacle (i.e., God cannot abide impurity), the children of Israel must also be cleansed. The purity regulations and sacrificial cult provide for such cleansing. As a result, God abides in the cleansed sanctuary, and among a clean people. The purification offering is the primary means by which contamination from sin and impurity is purged. Thus, the relationship with the Divine is sustained.
The relationship between God and persons is not simply one of preserving the Divine presence through cleansing and purity. The sacrificial cult includes the communication of positive expressions such as giving thanks, conveying satisfaction in the accomplishment of a vow, and the spontaneous giving of a free-will offering. All of these are expressed through the well-being offerings. In P, these offerings are presented in response to joyous motivations. Thus, contact with God through the sacrificial cult is understood as truly relational.1
1 Thomas J. King, The Realignment of The Priestly Literature: The Priestly Narrative in Genesis and Its Relation to Priestly Legislation and the Holiness School, Princeton Theological Monograph Series, 102 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications [Wipf and Stock], 2015), 69-70