An Honor/Shame Argument For Two Temple Clearings -- By: E. Randolph Richards

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 29:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: An Honor/Shame Argument For Two Temple Clearings
Author: E. Randolph Richards

An Honor/Shame Argument For Two Temple Clearings

E. Randolph Richards*

*E. Randolph Richards is Dean of the School of Ministry, Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida.

I. Introduction

Concerning two Temple clearings:1 “few would suggest he [Jesus] did it twice” (Ben Witherington), “improbable” (Kingsley Barrett, Ramsey Michaels), “historically implausible” (Craig Keener), “an historiographic monstrosity” (Gerald Borchert); the possibility of two clearings is not even mentioned by F. F. Bruce or A. M. Hunter. Such scorn, as Craig Blomberg notes, discourages one from even raising the question: “It does seem odd how reluctant some are today to consider the possibility of two separate events.”2

Let me begin by saying I have no theological agenda that requires me to insist on two Temple clearings. In fact, since my first graduate-level class on the Fourth Gospel in the early 1980s, I have maintained there was only one Temple clearing and that John relocated the incident for theological reasons. I have no problem with this option. My recent sojourn into sociological studies in the NT, however, has led me to reconsider the possibility of two Temple clearings.

Detailed analysis of the various Gospel accounts have been done by Donald Carson, Darrell Bock, Craig Blomberg, Andreas Köstenberger, and others who have looked extensively at this question. Yet, two nagging questions persist. Thus, when a scholar raises the possibility of two clearings, as Bock does in his wonderful Luke commentary,3 other scholars readily concede, “Yes, yes, those are good points; however, how do you answer . . . ?” In other words, it appears there are two questions that prevent many from considering two clearings. I will suggest possible responses. Before

we get to these questions and suggestions, allow me briefly to remind us of the “state of the union” on this matter.

II. Scholarship On The Question Of The Temple Clearing(s)

Gospel scholars are largely in agreement in seeing one Temple incident.4 Ben Witherington has summarized the argument well:5

  1. The early church was still involved in Temple worship until A.D. 70, indicating the strong connection between the Jewish people, even Jewish Christians, and the Jerusalem Temple. An action by Jesus against the Temple...
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