The Narrative Function of the Temple in Luke-Acts -- By: Ron C. Fay

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 27:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: The Narrative Function of the Temple in Luke-Acts
Author: Ron C. Fay


The Narrative Function of the Temple in Luke-Acts

Ron C. Fay

Ron C. Fay just completed his Ph.D. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Typically, discussions concerning the temple in the NT revolve around the theological issues to the neglect of the literary or narrative aspects.1 In the same way, narrative analyses of Luke-Acts typically focus on characters: Jesus in Luke and the early church or Paul in Acts. Rarely is a character or literary theme traced through the double work as a whole. This results in an unintentional negation of the supposed unity of Luke-Acts. This article will trace the temple throughout all of Luke-Acts, demonstrating that Luke contains a drive toward the temple and Acts describes motion away from and then back to the temple. Thus, the temple functions as the literary center of Luke-Acts in a geographical sense, with the followers of Christ firmly anchored there. While scholars have dealt broadly with NT treatments of the temple,2 with one arguing that Jesus is the fulfillment and replacement of the temple in the Gospel of John,3 this article will concentrate on the temple’s narrative function. This study of the temple will first examine Luke and Acts. Rather than citing every mention of the temple and Jerusalem, only the major relevant passages will be considered in order to show the general concept.4 Next this author will argue that Jerusalem and the temple are closely interconnected, thus exploring Jerusalem in Luke-Acts as well. Finally, this article will suggest some possible implications and avenues for further study.

I. The Temple in Luke

The temple figures prominently in the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel. The birth announcement of John the Baptist occurs in the temple, as the angel visits Zechariah in Luke 1:21–22. In fact, the only location explicitly mentioned within the pericope is the temple itself. Immediately after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph take him to the temple in 2:22–52; note particularly 2:27 and 2:37. The next pericope deals with the celebration of the Passover Feast, after which Jesus remains at the temple in order to discuss the Torah.5 These early narratives of John and Jesus clearly delineate the temple as a foca...

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