Ezekiel’s Rhetoric: Ancient Near Eastern Building Protocol And Shame And Honor As The Keys In Identifying The Builder Of The Eschatological Temple -- By: Brian Neil Peterson

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 56:4 (Dec 2013)
Article: Ezekiel’s Rhetoric: Ancient Near Eastern Building Protocol And Shame And Honor As The Keys In Identifying The Builder Of The Eschatological Temple
Author: Brian Neil Peterson


Ezekiel’s Rhetoric: Ancient Near Eastern Building Protocol And Shame And Honor As The Keys In Identifying The Builder Of The Eschatological Temple

Brian Peterson*

* Brian Peterson resides at 3191 Holly Brook Circle NE, Cleveland, TN 37323.

I. Introduction

Ezekiel’s Babylonian/ANE context has aided Ezekiel scholars in posing plausible solutions for many of the idiosyncrasies, both textual and cultural, found within the book that bears his name.1 This context also helps to prove that Ezekiel intended to teach that YHWH will be the builder of the visionary temple, but not for reasons once considered so obvious. It is rooted in the prophet’s rhetorical strategy whereby Mesopotamian motifs are used in the process of indicting the nation for covenant violations and temple defilement. This strategy is further anchored to his use of shame/honor principles tied to ANE temple-construction protocol. In this article I propose that Ezekiel omits the key human elements from ANE temple-building practices in his temple vision of 40:1–43:11 in an effort to shame Israel into realizing how their sin had not only defiled the Solomonic temple beyond salvaging but had also dishonored YHWH before the nations. In particular, Ezekiel’s reflection on these issues sheds light on the enigmatic passage of 43:10–11 where

YHWH, through his prophet, tells the people to “measure” (מדד) the temple “proportion” (תכנית) in order that they might be ashamed (כלם) for all their sin.2

I will order my discussion into five parts: (1) I will briefly look at the options proposed for the builder of Ezekiel’s temple; (2) I will situate my discussion within the context of ANE shame/honor concepts; (3) I will examine biblical and ANE temple-building practices and how they compare/contrast with those presented in Ezekiel; (4) I will compare Ezekiel’s and Solomon’s temples to show how they differ in light of ANE temple-building regimens; and (5) I will assess how Ezek 43:10–11 makes the most sense rhetorically in light of my discussions in sections 2–4. I will conclude that it is the combining of these facets that helps elucidate Ezekiel’s rhetorical strategy in the temple vision.

II. Possible Builders Of Ezekiel’s Temple

Who is the builder of Ezekiel’s visionary te...

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