Heavenly Sabbath, Heavenly Sanctuary: The Transformation of Priestly Sacred Space and Sacred Time in the "Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice" and the Epistle to the Hebrews

by Calaway, Jared C., Ph.D., COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, 2010, 453 pages; 3447864

Abstract:

This dissertation investigates how the Sabbath and the sanctuary interrelate in Second Temple Jewish and early Christian literature. Studies of sacred time and sacred space have generally treated them as separate yet complementary categories in the study of religion. This has been equally true of those studying the Sabbath and the sanctuary in Second Temple Jewish and early Christian literature. Considerations of their coordination have tended to be rare momentary glimpses rather than extended treatments. This study focuses on the coordination of sacred time of the Sabbath and sacred space of the sanctuary through how they come together in narratives, ritual practices, and shifting historical circumstances.

The body of this dissertation consists of three major parts divided into the Hebrew Bible, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice from Qumran, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Beginning with and strongly relying upon the Hebrew Bible, these sources align the Sabbath and the sanctuary by making them equivalent in holiness and by embedding this relationship within an ancient Near Easter narrative pattern exemplified by the Babylonian Enuma Elish in which a god creates, is enthroned, receives a temple, and rests. The Songs and Hebrews similarly reflect upon and transform this relationship within this narrative pattern by resituating it on a heavenly plane. Their similarities indicate a likely connection between them. For the Songs the Sabbath becomes the temporal access to the heavenly Tabernacle; for Hebrews, the Sabbath and the sanctuary become equivalent expressions to enter heavenly life. In both, this spatiotemporal coordination allowed one presently to enter the heavenly realm and approach the enthroned God of creation.

These works inaugurated, maintained, and reconfigured this relationship in periods when the sanctuary was inaccessible. The earliest articulations occurred during and after the Babylonian exile, the Dead Sea sectarians used the Songs when separated from the temple, and Hebrews likely was written after the destruction of the second temple. By bringing the Sabbath together with the sanctuary, these works made the Sabbath the temporal access to the sanctuary's spatial holiness and heavenliness when it was otherwise unobtainable. Those within the covenant could experience the sanctuary's holiness every seventh day and, thereby, God's holy and heavenly presence.

AdviserAlan F. Segal
SchoolCOLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsBiblical studies
Publication Number3447864

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