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The Temple of Jesus's Body: the Temple Theme in the Gospel of John.

By Alan R. Kerr. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series, no. 220. New York: Sheffield Academic, 2002. Pp. xii + 416. $115.

This is the fullest exploration of the Temple theme in the Fourth Gospel that I have encountered. New Zealand scholar Alan Kerr confirms and builds upon explorations of this theme already available in such major commentaries as those of R. E. Brown, C. K. Barrett, R. Schnackenburg, and F. J. Moloney. In many ways his study parallels the almost simultaneous work of Mary L. Coloe, whose 1998 Melbourne dissertation was published as God Dwells with Us (2001, reviewed in TS 63 [June 2002] 423). K. differs from Coloe in emphasis (his being christological, hers ecclesial) and in his development of Temple links with Sabbath in John 5, Passover in John 6, and the foot washing of John 13 as a purificatory entrance rite.

K. advances the scholarly exploration of John's Temple theme on several fronts. He spells out the Exodus echoes in the Prologue. He resolves the textual crux of 7:37-38, understanding Jesus rather than the believer as the source of the flow of living water. He furthers our understanding of Johannine irony (e.g., hearing in 13:29, the reference to Judas "buying what is needed for the feast," a reference to betraying Jesus, the Paschal Lamb; or taking the confusion about the identity of the high priest in 18:14, 19 as pointing to Jesus as the real high priest, much as he is implicitly the real judge in the interview with Pilate. K. deepens the discussion of the influence of the Temple festivals on John's presentation of Jesus. Along with Passover, Tabernacles, and Dedication, he does well to include the Sabbath, the weekly Temple feast.

The most arresting part of K.'s study I find is the case he makes for the presence of the Temple theme in John 13-17. Without denying the meaning of Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet as an acting out of his service ethic and an interpretation of the imminent laying down of his life, K. argues that the washing is also linked to the ablutions that Jewish custom required before entering the Temple precincts. Like Coloe, K. reads 14:1-3 (about "my Father's house[hold]" and preparing "a place") as a promise not about the postmortem experience of heaven but about the post-Easter reality of the temple of his risen body. Finally, K.'s exposition of the prayer of John 17 spells out high-priestly allusions that make his treatment of other allusions to the Temple and its services all the more plausible. Especially illuminating are his grounding of unity language in the kind of Temple-centered unity celebrated in Psalm 133 and his rooting of "keeping" and bestowing "the name" in the classic Aaronic blessing, Numbers 6:24-27.

Throughout, K. is particularly alert to the resonance of Johannine diction with the language of the Septuagint, as for example in his treatment of ego eimi as the "name" that Jesus receives from the Father and in which he "keeps" the disciples.

K.'s reluctance to include 1:51 (the allusion to Jacob's ladder dream in Genesis 28) as an aspect of the Johannine Temple theme seems overly careful. Granted that there is no direct Temple reference in that verse, it is hard to imagine that the author of the Fourth Gospel did not hear in LXX Genesis 28, with its complex of "the place" (six times), "house of God," "gate of heaven," an anticipation of the mediatory function of the Temple that the glorified Jesus would fulfill.

Oddly, in a work whose bibliography is notably current, K. refers regularly to Arndt and Gingrich's 1957 edition of W. Baner's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BAG) rather than to one of F. W. Danker's thorough updates of that primary tool of New Testament study--BAGD (1979) or BDAG (2000).

These, however, are minor quibbles. K.'s work stands as a substantial contribution to the ongoing explication of a major theme in the Gospel of John. Indexes to sources and authors together with a representative bibliography on the Johannine Temple theme enhance this work as a research tool.

Creighton University, Omaha DENNIS HAMM, S.J.
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Author:Hamm, Dennis S.J.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Words:705
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