The Cleansing Of The Temple -- By: Aaron M. Crane

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:233 (Jan 1902)
Article: The Cleansing Of The Temple
Author: Aaron M. Crane

The Cleansing Of The Temple

Aaron M. Crane

In the Bible, as it has come down to ns and as we understand it, there appear to be many contradictions which may be trusted to smooth themselves out and disappear as our knowledge is corrected and our understanding enlarged. The New Testament is not entirely free from these; nor is the teaching of Jesus when seen by the light of the usual interpretation. But all such seeming contradictions disappear by the light of the history and customs of his day, and by the light of the philosophy that underlies all he says.

The story of the driving of the traders from the temple at Jerusalem, or “the cleansing of the temple,” as it is frequently called, is one which presents many difficulties. Perhaps the first to occur is the question of time. When did this happen? John in his story places it in the very earliest part of the ministry of Jesus, on his first recorded visit to Jerusalem after his baptism. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, on the contrary, put it at the very close of his ministry, immediately after his public entry into Jerusalem, and only a few days before his arrest and crucifixion.

This difficulty has been recognized and discussed from very early times, and has been explained in various ways. Some say that John was mistaken; others that the mistake was with Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Still others say there were two events,—one at the first of his ministry, and the other at the last of it. By these varying propositions with their modifications the attempts have been made to overcome the discrepancy. As great an authority as Far-

rar says, that the first cleansing of the temple was so ineffectual that it required another at the close of his ministry.1 To this the inquiries immediately occur: Was the last one effective? If not, what advantage was there in either, and why should the attempt have been made at all? Puzzling questions arise in connection with every effort to solve these difficulties, and no explanation yet made is without its objections.

But the question concerning the time when the temple was cleansed does not occasion the greatest perplexity in connection with the subject. The story of this incident, more than any other one thing in all the records which we have of Jesus, stands in contradiction to the fundamental principles of his teaching. The many questions suggested by this contradiction often force themselves upon the attention of the earnest investigator, unsettling what would otherwise be unavoidable conclusions. The incident thus assumes greater importance than it would have were it merely a question of dates, and therefore it deserves careful exa...

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