Was Jesus Really a Carpenter? Part V: Bezaleel Continued

In our last installment we saw that Bezaleel and Jesus shared some very specific characteristics, making their depictions in Exodus and Mark conspicuously similar. The first 3 of the 7 points below were explored, and now we will look points 4-6.

  1. He is from the tribe of Judah
  2. He is filled with the spirit of God
  3. He has wisdom, understanding, and knowledge
  4. God “called him by name”
  5. He is a builder of “the tabernacle of the congregation”
  6. He equips the priests with garments and anointing oil
  7. His name means “in the shadow of God”

God “Called Him by Name”

Bezaleel is introduced as being specifically “called by name,” and as we will see in point 7 his name is a significant one. For now we will focus on the calling itself.

Ex. 31 could have simply said that God chose Bezaleel, but instead God tells Moses that he called Bezaleel “by name.” This emphasis of a divine calling and a particular name is significant in that it sets Bezaleel apart from the other anonymous helpers who built the Tabernacle, and also from Aholiab, who is said to have been “given with him” (“him being Bezaleel). This man is mentioned only in Exodus, and only in the account of the building of the Tabernacle. His name means “father’s tent,” the ab being “father” (like Abba), a term used in the NT for God the Father, and ‘ohel beingtent, the term used for the Tabernacle. In other words, both of the named men are very special: Bezaleel is called by name by God himself, and Aholiab is given by God to Bezaleel. Both men’s names refer to the Tabernacle.

In Mark, the first action of Jesus is to be baptized by John, with the result being that the Spirit descends on him and a voice from heaven calls him “my Son.” This endorsement and naming at baptism in front of a prophet (John) recalls the “calling by name” of Bezaleel in the presence of Moses. God calls from heaven in the presence of the greatest prophet of the time, and instead of commissioning that prophet he calls an unknown character his “son.” This name (My beloved Son) is functional, just as the name of Bezaleel is functional.

Again we see the connection between Mark 6 and Mark 1 (as mentioned in #2), strengthened by the fact that the people were “astonished” (ἐκπλήσσω) by the teaching of Jesus in 1:22 and then astonished again by his teaching in 6:2. While this astonishment is repeated twice more in Mark, the initial occurrence is first repeated in Mark 6:2, forming a conceptual link between the two accounts.

We can add to this that the later 2 occurrences deal with Gentiles being astonished at Jesus’s teaching (7:37) and the Jews in Jerusalem being astonished at his teaching directly after Jesus seems to take control of the Temple in Jerusalem (11:18). Before this episode the Temple is never mentioned by Mark, drawing another connection between Jesus’s astonishing teachings and his identity as Temple builder called by God, as well as the inclusion of the Gentiles into true Temple worship. Jesus can take over the Temple because he is the architect of it, being the Son of God (Mark 1 and throughout) and the new Bezaleel (Mark 6).

To this we can add that “called by name” in the OT is almost exclusively used of people or the Ark or the Temple, all of which are called by the name of God. This means that those “called” are under the authority and protection of God. The Temple is the Temple of God, the people are the people of God.

Here are some of the more significant instances of this:

Isaiah 62:2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.

(alluded to in Revelation 2:17 and 3:12)

Isaiah 65:1 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.

(cited by Paul in Romans 10:21)

This last one is particularly significant because it is found in a passage in Mark we have already discussed:

Jeremiah 7:11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.

(cited by Jesus in Mark 11:17 when he seized control of the Temple)

Yet the phrase “called out by name” (ἀνακέκλημαι ἐξ ὀνόματος) is used in the OT only twice, both of which refer to God calling Bezaleel. He is totally unique in this way, just as God calls only Jesus his “son” in Mark (1:11, 9:7)

(note: the example in Esther 2:14 in the link above speaks of Esther not coming before the king “unless she should be called by name,” making this significantly different than Bezaleel’s call, not to mention that the [hypothetical] call would be by a king rather than by God.)


He is a Builder of “the Tabernacle of the Congregation”

We have already covered this identity of Bezaleel, as well as pointed out how Jesus was seen as accomplishing the same feat (building the Tabernacle) in a metaphorical way, through his teaching and ultimately through his sacrificial death and resurrection. This “built” the Church (the congregation).

The Greek in Ex. 31 is “τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ μαρτυρίου”, which means “the tent of witness,” but also means “the Tabernacle of martyrdom.” Tent and tabernacle are synonyms, and martyr means witness. Here we find a play on words, where the witness of Jesus as being the Righteous One comes about through his martyrdom, which God honors by raising him from the dead. His body then becomes the tent of witness to the power of God, as well as a symbol for the Church.

Bezaleel also builds the candlestick, the Ark of the Covenant, and all of the cultic items used by the priests in the Tabernacle. These aren’t mention specifically by Mark, but if we recall the incident in the Temple where Jesus kicks out the moneychangers (Mark 11), he also forbid any “vessels” from being carried in the Temple. The term is σκεῦος, used by Mark only in this passage about the Temple and in a parable about the “house of a strong man.”

This term is important in that it refers to the vessels/equipment used in the Temple (it is used like the term “paraphenalia” or “equipment” today). In Exodus 31:7 the “furniture of the Tabernacle” is ὴν διασκευὴν τῆς σκηνῆς. It should also be noted that people were referred to as being a σκεῦος, as in Acts 9:15. Not only that, but σκηνή (tabernacle) seems to be derived from a combination of σκεῦος (vessel/tool) and σκιά (shadow/shade).

The only time that Mark uses the term σκηνή is in the following passage (Mark 9:2-8):

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.

His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—

because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.

And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.

This is a particularly rich passage, especially when viewed with Bezaleel in mind.

  1. This is the only passage where Mark uses the term “tabernacle,” and Peter suggests that they build 3 of them. This does not happen, of course, but building the tabernacle is the work of Bezaleel, and so it was fitting that Peter does not build a tabernacle (or three) because this was to be the mission of Jesus alone.
  2. God calls Jesus his Son, just as he called Bezaleel by name. The correspondence is strengthened by the presence of Moses in both accounts.
  3. God calls Jesus his Son in Mark only here and in chapter 1, where instead of Moses being present, John the Baptist is present. But John the Baptist in Mark 1 is the forerunner of Christ, and in Mark 9:11-13 (immediately after the passage above) Elijah as the forerunner is discussed. So in both passages we have John as Elijah, meaning that both times Jesus is called “son” by God, John/Elijah is present.
  4. In both Mark 1, Mark 9, and Exodus 31 the one called (Jesus, Bezaleel) is thought by all to be a lesser figure than the prophet(s) present. Nevertheless, God calls the one who is thought to be inferior and declares him to be utterly unique.
  5. Just as Bezaleel alone can make the holy vestments of the priests, Jesus’s garment is changed miraculously “such as no launderer on earth” could accomplish.
  6. Just as Bezaleel means “in the shadow of God,” the cloud that God speaks from in Mark 9 “over-shadows“(ἐπι-σκιάζω) them and only Jesus remains. Only Jesus emerges from the shadow of God.

We can add to this that while Mark does not tell us what Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus about, Luke tells us that they were discussing his coming “decease” in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). The English translation obscures what is really being spoken of: the Greek is ἔξοδος, literally “exodus.” This is another connection to Bezaleel, and indicates that Luke read Mark 9 with an Exodus theme in mind. This word is never used elsewhere by Luke, or any of the other Gospel writers.

The passage tells us that Jesus is the unique one, called by God to build the Tabernacle in Jerusalem through his death. Moses does not have the wisdom or the calling to do it, only Jesus, called by name in the shadow of God.


He Equips the Priests with Garments and Anointing Oil

Bezaleel alone has the wisdom to make the priestly vestments and the anointing oil, both of which are considered extremely holy and miraculous. While Mark says nothing of priestly vestments (τὰς στολὰς in Ex. 31) he does mention Jesus’s “garment” (ἱμάτιον) which is miraculous in Mark 9 (discussed above) and elsewhere.

Granting that this is not the exact same Greek word, we nonetheless should recognize that Exodus itself uses various terms for the priestly vestments. Mark uses ἱμάτιον 12 times, while the entire NT uses it 62 times. In the context of the length of the NT, Mark’s usage has the highest rate of occurrence of the term, and we can add to this that Matthew (who uses the term 16 times) depends on Mark for all but 2 of the occurrences. Therefore this term is especially significant for Mark as opposed to the other NT writers.

Ex. 28:4 & 31, and 29:5 mention the vestments of the priests, using the term ποδήρη, which shows us that it is indeed a valid step to include other Greek terms as synonyms for τὰς στολὰς of Exodus 31. It follows from this that ἱμάτιον could be used as a term for the priest’s vestments, and this is confirmed by Lev. 21:10

And the priest that is chief among his brethren, the oil having been poured upon the head of the anointed one, and he having been consecrated to put on the garments (ἱμάτια), shall not take the mitre off his head, and shall not rend his garments (ἱμάτια).

This same usage is found in Numbers 8:7, 21 in describing the consecration of the priests and their vestments. In Numbers 20:28 we read that Aaron, just before his death, took off his ἱμάτια and gave it to his son as a sign of the transference of the high priesthood. It is thus shown very clearly that ἱμάτιον does denote the priestly vestments in the LXX.

Perhaps the most striking usage of the term can be found in Zechariah 3, which we will examine in a later post. For now, we can simply note that the term there refers to the vestments of the high priest Jesus(!) who re-establishes the priesthood in Jerusalem.

In the Mark, the term is used 7 times of the garments of Jesus, 5 of which are in the context of miracles. His clothes are holy, and the last occurrence of the word in Mark alludes to the prohibition of tearing the garment (ἱμάτια) of the high priest (Lev. 21:10). Mark 14:63 and Matthew 26:65 have the high priest breaking this prohibition during the trial of Jesus, although Mark uses the term χιτών while Matthew uses ἱμάτιον.

The oil of anointing that is put on the priests literally makes them a messiah (anointed one). It makes people and things holy, as opposed to the oil used for lamps or cooking. Mark alone recounts that Jesus’s disciples healed through oil, and only in 6:13, following directly after the Nazareth carpenter episode. This healing with oil accompanied their preaching of Jesus’s words, which for Mark brought holiness to the people and was a priestly work. It was laying the groundwork for the true Tabernacle.

Matthew and Luke both mention oil (6 times total) but never in the context of healing with it. This is significant because Jesus in ch.6 picks the Twelve and gives them power over unclean spirits (v.7). He then tells them to take nothing with them except sandals and a staff (v.8-9). It is then said that they preached, cast out spirits, and anointed with oil. It is therefore understood (or hinted at) that Jesus had also given them oil with which to anoint the sick. This anointing with oil is unique to Mark, and found only directly after Jesus is called a carpenter. Not only that, but the superiority of Jesus over the anointing oil is shown in v.5, where Jesus heals with his own hands while his disciples heal with anointing oil obtained from him. Just as the priests are made holy with the oil from the hands of Bezaleel, Jesus provides his disciples with oil to make the people holy. Both Jesus and Bezaleel are the sources of this holiness, by the calling of God.



Just as we saw in our previous post, Mark paints Jesus uniquely as the new Bazeleel. It is unbelievable that such unique and precise descriptions could have been made unintentionally, leading us to conclude that Mark did indeed construct his description of Jesus the Carpenter to mimic that of Bezaleel the Architect. This is the meaning of “carpenter” for Mark: the one who uniquely builds the true House of God. In our next posting we will take one last look at Bazaleel, examining what is probably the most striking aspect of his description. Once again, it is totally unique in the OT and corresponds to the unique identity of Jesus in the NT.

Thanks for reading.




Was Jesus Really a Carpenter? Part III: A Type of Confession

In looking at whether Jesus was really a carpenter I had expected to write a series of three posts: the first would introduce the problem, the second would deal with the linguistic evidence, and the third would give perspective to the evidence and draw a valid conclusion.

Yet, as happens so often in honest research, these plans were thwarted. I found something rather different than what I had expected, and as such I am forced to change directions and follow where the evidence has led me. Below is a a reassessment of where I’m at on the issue.


The Historical Jesus

Nothing is quite so fashionable in biblical studies in the past century as the notion of the Historical Jesus. The original question I intended to answer is implicitly tied to historicity: “Was Jesus ‘really’ a carpenter?” implies to the modern reader that the answer will deal with the historical Jesus. He was either “really” a carpenter or not according to what “actually happened” in history.

Yet this approach is fundamentally flawed and ultimately an exercise in futility. We have no reliable way of determining whether Jesus even existed, at least in terms of modern ideas of history, let alone what his day job may or may not have been. Instead, we have literary evidence that tells us a story about a man who lived, died, and lived again. This evidence is therefor outside of the realm of modern history. There is no “objective” (read: reasonably non-biased) data set to even gauge the plausibility of the story, much less the historical veracity of it.

Instead of looking for what “really happened” (a fairly futile endeavor even for modern news stories) we should take the evidence for what it is: a story that is intended to communicate meaning. As such, we might reframe the original question in the following manner: What does it mean for Mark to tell us that Jesus was a carpenter?

In the first two installments of this study we have seen that the modern connotations of “carpenter” do not exactly fit what the Greek of Mark conveys, yet no single English rendering can accurately reproduce the connotations of the Greek. As such, “carpenter” is close enough for our purposes, while we should keep in mind that “builder” and “mason” are close to the mark as well, and perhaps even superior to “carpenter.”



Rather than pursue the dead end approach of the Historical Jesus, we should adopt the narrative logic of Mark. After all, Mark is our starting point for the idea that Jesus was a carpenter. To take his account as historically factual is an ignorant approach and one which disrespects him as an author. Instead we should adopt the well attested and undeniably valid criteria of typological analysis.

The OT writings use genres of myth, prophecy, ancient history, and wisdom literature to convey meaning to their readers. They are constantly self-referential. One cannot understand the ending of the book of Judges, for example, without realizing that the last 3 chapters are a retelling of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. One cannot understand Ezekiel’s contention that Jerusalem is like Sodom without knowing the story of Sodom to which he refers, nor can we understand his depiction of the king of Tyre if don’t notice that it is based on the typology of both Adam and Satan. The Old Testament is a tightly woven set of texts that constantly allude to and at times explicitly cite other texts within Jewish tradition.

Perhaps the greatest living Old Testament scholar today is Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi. He has demonstrated for several decades the literary meaning of the Old and consequently the New Testaments. Much of the typology and allusion is lost on the English reader since the original languages of their composition (Hebrew and Greek) contain wordplay that cannot be conveyed in English. What was obvious for the original readers of the texts is no longer obvious to English readers.

Tom Dykstra, a protege of Tarazi, has written a brilliant book on Mark, but for our purposes what he says on the issue of genre is important in this article. His thesis is that Mark wrote his Gospel as “scripture.” That is to say that we should not approach Mark as modern history, ancient biography, or even as Homeric epic. Instead, we should approach it as a text self-consciously written as holy scripture, taking on the models of the OT writings rather than merely occasionally quoting from them.

This approach is not confined to the school of Tarazi, although in my opinion he is the leading light of it. Dykstra’s book, for example, is endorsed by the likes of David Trobisch and Thomas Brodie, both brilliant and uncompromising scholars. A scholar who has garnered more attention in the field is Richard Hays. For whatever reason, he has been able to communicate the scholastic validity of the typological/literary approach to the New Testament to a wide range of both liberal and conservative scholars. (I say “for whatever reason” because while Hays is a great scholar and superb writer, he is not as original as Tarazi. Perhaps it is his position at Duke as opposed to the smaller St Vladimir’s Seminary that has afforded him more publicity amongst scholars than Tarazi has received.)

In Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel WitnesHayes shows the importance of reading the Gospels in light of the Old Testament texts. The authors of the NT consciously wrote with OT literature in mind. We should note here that this approach is hardly novel, but is rather the traditional way that the Bible was read up until the modern period. The novelty that Tarazi and Hays bring to the table is novel only in the context of modern scholarship; the figural or typological approach was always how Scripture used to be read, and we know this from the Old Testament texts themselves. As such we should look for answers to our carpenter query in the Old Testament. We already began this process in the second installation of the series, but now we will do so in a more focused way. In particular, we will look at the theme of fulfilled typologies.

By this we mean the following: in the New Testament, Jesus is portrayed as the fulfillment of all the Old Testament heroes. He is the new Moses, the new David, the new Solomon, the new Joshua, etc.

All too often this thesis is accepted, but never followed to its logical conclusion. For example, the portrayal of Jesus as the new David is beyond question. He is the son of David, the Davidic Messiah, etc. It is all too obvious. Likewise the new Moses theme is in the forefront of the portrayals of Jesus as fulfilling the Mosaic Law, giving the Sermon on the Mount, etc. The Elijah/Elisha story cycles are also found throughout the Gospels and Revelation, and Jesus as the new Solomon is driven home to the reader of the NT quite forcefully and repeatedly. All of these assertions are backed up by plain readings as well as solid scholarship, to the point that no legitimate scholar could possibly object to them. They are that obvious.

But some other typologies have been neglected. One obvious one that is seldom if ever mentioned is Jesus as the new Joshua (son of Nun). This is obvious because both men lead Israel into the Promised Land. Moses never gets to the Promised Land, nor do any people from that generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. Joshua goes on to conquer Canaan and establish possession of the Promised Land. He is the rightful leader and successor to Moses. The first book following the Pentateuch in the Bible is named after him, and it was reckoned as the first book of the Prophets by Jews. What makes this typology painfully obvious is that “Joshua” and “Jesus” are literally the same name. There is not one shade of difference between the two, in spite of the misleading translation in English. No Jew could hear/read the name of Jesus and not think of Jesus the son of Nun, the most famous Jesus in history prior to Jesus of Nazareth.

In the upcoming posts we will see that this typological fulfillment theme extends to two other figures in the Old Testament, ones that are not well-known to us today but were of utmost importance in the 1st century. Not only that, but these two figures were related to each other already within the Old Testament narratives.

I’m willing to bet that although these figures are important and were well-known to first century Jews, if I gave you their names and asked you to describe them you would be as clueless as I was. In other words, this is new information for modern readers.

As always, thanks for reading.


WordPlay: Roman Power (Ῥώμη Ῥώμη)

Rome was destined to be powerful in Greek eyes and ears.

Rome (Ῥώμη)

In the 1st c. CE the role of the Romans in world history was clear: they were the dominators, the rulers of the known world. While ancient empires had arisen in the past and faded away in the same (Babylon, Persia, etc.) Rome was here to stay. This was not so much a philosophical position as a recognition of current realities: Rome was in control, and would continue to be so until the end of time.

If, for some unforseen reason, Rome was to fall, another like it would arise in its place. In this sense the uniqueness of Rome is somewhat compromised. Rome is the unique One at the moment, but like all other Powerful Ones it will eventually fall. Rome is simply the latest and greatest of the Powerful Ones.

This is tempered with the idea in the 1st c. that the world was coming to an end rather soon. This idea has roots in Jewish writings such as Daniel and 1 Enoch, and the idea had wide acceptance in the 1st c. apocalyptic movements in Judea and elsewhere.

Rome was one beast among many, but at the same time the historical timeline that Jews held to was running out. There was not an expectation that Rome would fall to another empire other than that of God himself. Rome was the last of the Powerful Ones.


Powerful One (Ῥώμη)

The view of Rome by Jews in the 1st c. was ambiguous: on the one hand Rome was a protector and granter of peace, while on the other hand it was a threat to the peace of Jerusalem. Roman power enabled the complete  building of the Temple in Jerusalem, while the earlier Persian power had only allowed the Second Temple to be built to half of the desired height. Imperial power was portrayed in Isaiah as a tool of God. Cyrus was called the “messiah” and he was to return the Jews to Judea and rebuild the Temple. This did not happen under Cyrus, and even when it did happen it was unsatisfactory to many Jews both then and now. It was as if this prophecy had yet to be actually fulfilled, and it was finally fulfilled in the building of the Temple by Herod under Roman power.

Power for the Greco-Romans was not simply a matter of influence, but also of holiness. To be powerful was to be divine, and the more powerful one was, the ore godlike they were. This open acknowledgement of power as the guiding principle of existence is in contrast to the Jewish ad Christian traditions of power in weakness. For Romans, it was axiomatic that power was divine, and the old adage that “power corrupts” would appear to them a partial truth, one which remains silent to the more important fact that “power preserves.” The powerful rise above corrupt mortality and enter into the life of the immortal gods.


The “Prophetic” Coincidence of Ῥώμη

This brings us to our original point: it was a linguistic fact that Romans were powerful. In other words, to call somebody “powerful” was to call them “Roman.” The word for “Rome” and “powerful” were exactly the same (Ῥώμη).

This is all the more striking since the coincidence of names is not designed: Rome was named (most probably) for “flowing water” in Etruscan, and later the meaning of “teat” was adopted. This makes sense in Latin, but the Greek interaction with Rome would have interpreted the name rather differently.

For Greeks, Rome was known as Ῥώμη, the Greek meaning of which was “power.” When Rome began to exert its power and domination in the Greek world, it would have appeared to have been forecast by the Greek language itself! This power over the Greeks would never be broken historically, since the end of the Roman Empire in the East did not convert the “Greeks” to a different culture. The legacy of Rome remained powerful in the Greek mind, as it did in their language.

The Nativity of the Herodian Temple and the Nativity of Mary

The role of the Temple in the Bible is crucial, and for Christians the role of Jesus and  his Mother ties into this biblical theme. This essay will focus on a small aspect of the Temple, namely the timeline for the construction of the Herodian Temple. When we compare the testimony of Josephus and the author of the Infancy Gospel of James we can see some striking similarities. The building of the Herodian Temple and the life of Mary correspond very closely in time. Let’s look at the data.


The Infancy Gospel of James

This is an interesting early Christian document. No strong position will be taken on the authorship or dating of the text, nor will a very close reading be undertaken (for a brief introduction to the text and a quick read through it, see my series of posts here).

Instead, we will focus on the content of the PJ in regard to the early life of Mary, the Theotokos. Since the text has influenced (or was inspired by) Christian hymnography we will focus on the narrative of Mary’s birth being announced, her birth, her presentation in the Temple, her receiving the Annunciation, and her giving birth to Jesus.



The other half of our material is from Josephus. He gives testimony regarding the speech of Herod which announced that he was going to rebuild the Temple to the proper specifications and the glory that it deserved. Scholars have argued that based on seemingly conflicting testimony from Josephus, the actual building began 3 years later (this has been discussed by a number of scholars, here is an explanation of the evidence). Josephus also tells us that the Temple was “finished” 8 years after the building project started.



A Timeline

We will now construct a timeline of the pertinent events, with the caveat that all dates are open to revision within a year or two. It should also be kept in mind that some dates are dependent upon others, so a single change (or mistake) in our dating could throw off the dating of multiple events.

  • 22 – Conception of Mary Announced
  • 21 – Mary Born
  • 19 – Building of Temple Announced
  • 18 – Mary Brought to the Temple
  • 17 – Temple Construction Begins
  • 15 – Inner Court finished
  •   9 – Temple construction finished (possibly Mary leaves Temple at this point)
  •   6 – Mary leaves Temple
  •   5 – Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus
  •   4 – Birth of Jesus
  •   4 – Death of Herod


The Narrative Suggested by the Timeline

Joachim and Anna are told that they will conceive a child, and they they dedicate the child to serve God at this time. The child is born and is miraculous when presented at the Temple. She lives at home in a Temple-like environment. Herod announces that he will rebuild the Temple. Mary is brought to the Temple to live there, when the preparations for building the Temple are still underway.

When the Temple construction begins, Mary is 5. It ends when she is 13, and she leaves the Temple 2 years later at the age of 15 (the PJ is usually interpreted as saying that Mary was 12 when she left the Temple, but I suggest that the text is better understood as indicating the time she was in the Temple as being 12 years). The following year the Annunciation occurs when she is 16, and Jesus is born when she is 17. That same year Herod dies.

Mary is in the Temple for the entire period of construction. The announcement of her future birth and the birth itself precede the same for the Temple by 3 years.

At no point in Josephus do we read of Mary, and although he does mention Jesus in one passage, it is contested among scholars as to whether the text is authentic. Even f it is authentic, there is no mention of Jesus’ early life or mother. At no point in the PJ do we hear about Temple construction or a mention of Herod building the Temple. So it appears that both texts are writing of the same period, from different perspectives, and yet when we compare their dates the correspondence is uncanny. It is as if the author of PJ is using the timeline of the Herodian Temple and applying it to Mary.

We can add to this that the building program of Herod the Great was not simply good economics or a display of megalomania. It was also spoken in he language of eschatology: Herod declared that he was going to rebuild the Temple according to its proper glory, a privilege that he felt was due to the Romans. The Jews were expecting an eschatological Temple built by God, and Herod gave them a physical Temple built by Rome and Edom. At the same time and in the same place God was preparing Mary as a “rival Temple,” built by God and not man (as is made explicit by the lack of human input in the conception of Jesus). This image of Mary as the Temple or Tabernacle is seen in the text of Luke, as Brodie so expertly pointed out in his 1979 article “A New Temple and a New Law: The Unity and Chronicler-based Nature of Luke 1:1-4:22a.”


Some of the irony lies in the Temple imagery of Mary being linked to the historical accounts of Josephus. Herod tries to improve the Temple, which was obviously flawed (see 1 Enoch, Tobit, Jubilees, etc.), by building a flashy Temple. God initiates the “building” of Mary and announces it to her parents. The building of Herod’s Temple and Mary occur within a year of each other. Both events are unprecedented in Jewish history.

The idea that there was a 3 year gap in the annunciation and construction of the Herodian Temple is striking, given that it is based on Josephus and historical probabilities rather than a “spiritual” exegesis of the New Testament or PJ. If we put Josephus and the PJ together, we see that Mary is taken to the Temple a year before the Temple begins to be built. Herod’s Temple was built from start to finish with Mary residing there. We can add to this that if she was indeed in the Holy of Holies (see the Nutzman article for historical plausibility) she lived in the only part of the Temple that Herod did not rebuild.

So what do we make of this correspondence?

Is the PJ inserting a theological timeframe into the story and patterning itself on the construction by Herod?

Is Josephus patterning the construction of the Temple on the timeline of Christian claims in the NT and/or the PJ? (even without the specific information of the PJ the timeline is much the same based on the NT evidence)

Or is the correspondence simply coincidental and happens to contrast the origins of the two rival Temples in the 1st century?

Or is there another explanation for the correspondence?


Notes on The Infancy Gospel of James, pt. 6 (chapters 17-20)

Chapter 17

“And there was an order from the Emperor Augustus, that all in Bethlehem of Judaea should be enrolled. And Joseph said: I shall enrol my sons, but what shall I do with this maiden? How shall I enrol her? As my wife? I am ashamed. As my daughter then? But all the sons of Israel know that she is not my daughter. The day of the Lord shall itself bring it to pass as the Lord will. And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it; and his son led it, and Joseph followed. And when they had come within three miles, Joseph turned and saw her sorrowful; and he said to himself: Likely that which is in her distresses her. And again Joseph turned and saw her laughing. And he said to her: Mary, how is it that I see in thy face at one time laughter, at another sorrow? And Mary said to Joseph: Because I see two peoples with my eyes; the one weeping and lamenting, and the other rejoicing and exulting. And they came into the middle of the road, and Mary said to him: Take me down from off the ass, for that which is in me presses to come forth. And he took her down from off the ass, and said to her: Whither shall I lead thee, and cover thy disgrace? for the place is desert.”

Ch. 17 is the story of the census and traveling to Bethlehem. Of note is that Mary is about to give birth in a “desert.” Also of note is that a son of Joseph accompanies them on their journey. We can assume that this is James, but it is noteworthy that the author never writes as if he is in the story. This is rather strange, and almost inexplicable if the author is only pretending to be James.


Chapter 18

“And he found a cave there, and led her into it; and leaving his two sons beside her, he went out to seek a widwife in the district of Bethlehem. And I Joseph was walking, and was not walking; and I looked up into the sky, and saw the sky astonished; and I looked up to the pole of the heavens, and saw it standing, and the birds of the air keeping still. And I looked down upon the earth, and saw a trough lying, and work-people reclining: and their hands were in the trough. And those that were eating did not eat, and those that were rising did not carry it up, and those that were conveying anything to their mouths did not convey it; but the faces of all were looking upwards. And I saw the sheep walking, and the sheep stood still; and the shepherd raised his hand to strike them, and his hand remained up. And I looked upon the current of the river, and I saw the mouths of the kids resting on the water and not drinking, and all things in a moment were driven from their course.”

Here we read that Joseph’s two sons were with the couple, one of which we assume to be James. They were in a cave roughly three miles (ch. 17) from Bethlehem. The early accounts of Jesus’ birth (outside of the NT) also speak of a cave rather than a barn or house.

What is most striking to me about this chapter is the mystical experience of Joseph. If this experience was made up by the author, it seems strange that it is so unique in Jewish and Christian literature. If it is conveyed from a confidant (James) then the portrayal becomes rather intuitive. Joseph’s perception slows down to a stop (it seems) just as most people experience when a momentous event takes place. Here time seems to stand still, and James likely included this aspect of the story to stress the paradox of the Virgin giving birth. All of nature both does and does not act as it always has.


Chapter 19

“And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: O man, whither art thou going? And I said: I am seeking an Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said unto me: Art thou of Israel? And I said to her: Yes. And she said: And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? And I said: A woman betrothed to me. And she said to me: Is she not thy wife? And I said to her: It is Mary that was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife. And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit. And the widwife said to him: Is this true? And Joseph said to her: Come and see. And the midwife went away with him. And they stood in the place of the cave, and behold a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave. And the midwife said: My soul has been magnified this day, because mine eyes have seen strange things — because salvation has been brought forth to Israel. And immediately the cloud disappeared out of the cave, and a great light shone in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it. And in a little that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from His mother Mary. And the midwife cried out, and said: This is a great day to me, because I have seen this strange sight. And the midwife went forth out of the cave, and Salome met her. And she said to her: Salome, Salome, I have a strange sight to relate to thee: a virgin has brought forth — a thing which her nature admits not of. Then said Salome: As the Lord my God liveth, unless I thrust in my finger, and search the parts, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth.”

Ch. 19 has Joseph meet a midwife, to whom he explains the situation. A cloud fills the cave in exactly the same way that it filled the Temple when it was dedicated or “born.” (see 1 Kings 8:10-11) When a certain Salome is notified of the event, she says “As the Lord my God liveth, unless I thrust in my finger, and search the parts, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth.” This is rather transparent parallel to the Thomas episode, with the exception that Salome is punished while Thomas is not. It seems to me that Thomas never actually touched Jesus, since the text does not tell us that he did. Instead he took Jesus at his word, and made a confession of faith. Salome lacks that faith and is punished and restored, as we see in the next chapter. This Salome is likely to be understood as Salome the Myrrhbearer, found in Mark 15:40 and 16:1.


Chapter 20

“And the midwife went in, and said to Mary: Show thyself; for no small controversy has arisen about thee. And Salome put in her finger, and cried out, and said: Woe is me for mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and, behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire. And she bent her knees before the Lord, saying: O God of my fathers, remember that I am the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; do not make a show of me to the sons of Israel, but restore me to the poor; for Thou knowest, O Lord, that in Thy name I have performed my services, and that I have received my reward at Thy hand. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by her, saying to her: Salome, Salome, the Lord hath heard thee. Put thy hand to the infant, and carry it, and thou wilt have safety and joy. And Salome went and carried it, saying: I will worship Him, because a great King has been born to Israel. And, behold, Salome was immediately cured, and she went forth out of the cave justified. And behold a voice saying: Salome, Salome, tell not the strange things thou hast seen, until the child has come into Jerusalem.”

Ch. 20 recounts how Salome dares to inspect Mary, has her hand burned, and then is healed. This is very close to the traditional account f the Formation of Mary, where a Jewish opponent attempts to overturn the bier that Mary’s body is being transported on. An angel cuts off his hand, and then it is restored through prayer and repentance. This is almost certainly a later tradition than the PJ.

She then “went forth out of the cave justified” just as Joachim had “went down from the temple of the Lord justified,” in ch. 5. The locus of divine communication here is now the cave, not the Temple. Salome is sworn to secrecy, a theme found throughout the Gospels.

Notes on The Infancy Gospel of James, pt. 7 (chapters 21-24)

We have only the final four chapters left to examine.

Chapter 21

“And, behold, Joseph was ready to go into Judaea. And there was a great commotion in Bethlehem of Judaea, for Magi came, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him. And when Herod heard, he was much disturbed, and sent officers to the Magi. And he sent for the priests, and examined them, saying: How is it written about the Christ? where is He to be born? And they said: In Bethlehem of Judaea, for so it is written. And he sent them away. And he examined the Magi, saying to them: What sign have you seen in reference to the king that has been born? And the Magi said: We have seen a star of great size shining among these stars, and obscuring their light, so that the stars did not appear; and we thus knew that a king has been born to Israel, and we have come to worship him. And Herod said: Go and seek him; and if you find him, let me know, in order that I also may go and worship him. And the Magi went out. And, behold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them until they came to the cave, and it stood over the top of the cave. And the Magi saw the infant with His mother Mary; and they brought forth from their bag gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by the angel not to go into Judaea, they went into their own country by another road.”

Ch. 21 is the story of the Magi, retold in a fairly straightforward manner but with some small differences. For the time being we will let the text speak for itself and simply move on.


Chapter 22

“And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.”

Here Mary places Jesus in a stall not because there was no room at the inn, but because Herod was searching for the child. This recalls the placing of Moses in the “ark” to protect him from Pharaoh.



Chapter 23

“And Herod searched for John, and sent officers to Zacharias, saying: Where hast thou hid thy son? And he, answering, said to them: I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I do not know where my son is. And the officers went away, and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod was enraged, and said: His son is destined to be king over Israel. And he sent to him again, saying: Tell the truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy life is in my hand. And Zacharias said: I am God’s martyr, if thou sheddest my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, because thou sheddest innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord. And Zacharias was murdered about daybreak. And the sons of Israel did not know that he had been murdered.”

Herod assumes that the Magi are looking for John the Baptist (simply “John” here, since he had yet to start his baptismal ministry). Zacharias tells Herod that as a priest he is always in the Temple, recalling Mary being always in “the Temple” even before her formal dedication in the Temple. Like Mary, Elizabeth is not with a male protector, and like Mary she has a holy child. Zachary’s is martyred and recalled by Jesus in Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:51 (although this interpretation is hotly contested by scholars).


Chapter 24

“But at the hour of the salutation the priests went away, and Zacharias did not come forth to meet them with a blessing, according to his custom. And the priests stood waiting for Zacharias to salute him at the prayer, and to glorify the Most High. And he still delaying, they were all afraid. But one of them ventured to go in, and he saw clotted blood beside the altar; and he heard a voice saying: Zacharias has been murdered, and his blood shall not be wiped up until his avenger come. And hearing this saying, he was afraid, and went out and told it to the priests. And they ventured in, and saw what had happened; and the fretwork of the temple made a wailing noise, and they rent their clothes from the top even to the bottom. And they found not his body, but they found his blood turned into stone. And they were afraid, and went out and reported to the people that Zacharias had been murdered. And all the tribes of the people heard, and mourned, and lamented for him three days and three nights. And after the three days, the priests consulted as to whom they should put in his place; and the lot fell upon Simeon. For it was he who had been warned by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death until he should see the Christ in the flesh.

And I James that wrote this history in Jerusalem, a commotion having arisen when Herod died, withdrew myself to the wilderness until the commotion in Jerusalem ceased, glorifying the Lord God, who had given me the gift and the wisdom to write this history. And grace shall be with them that fear our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory to ages of ages. Amen.””

Zacharias is in the Holy of Holies for too long in Luke, when an angel a[[eared to him and he became mute. Here he lingers because he has been murdered. A voice is heard, and it is assumed to be the voice of God, since it is in the “dabir” (word, oracle) the Jewish name for the Holy of Holies since it functions as the mouthpiece for God.

The fear, fleeing, and returning is both natural and in parallel to the discovery of the empty tomb in the Gospels, but here they do find the body. Finally Simeon is elected as the replacement for Zacharias, and he is connected with the Simeon the God-Receiver we read about it Luke 3.

The priests rent their clothes in disobedience to the law that forbade priests from doing so (see Lev. 10:6), showing their absolute grief.

The final paragraph is the only mention of James by name in the entire text. He does not say that he was one of the sons of Joseph, nor the brother of Jesus. The connection between the commotion, the writing, and the retreat to the desert is unclear. The commotion could have to do with the death of Herod (4 BCE), after which James would have left Jerusalem for the desert, then returned to Jerusalem to write the text. He thanks God for granting him the gift of wisdom to write the account, implying that it was not a mundane text but a prophetic one.

The most reasonable explanation is that the author is claiming to be James, the brother of Jesus. He has no need to tell this to the reader since he can assume that they might know him and would then understand that he is in the narrator (and therefor is a (partial) “eye-witness” account), and a family tradition. He nowhere mentions the life of Jesus, indicating that the story is meant to be understood as composed after the death of Herod the Great.

James would have been older than Jesus, but would he have been old enough to write this history? It certainly seems plausible that James could be up to 20 years older than Jesus (he died in 62 CE as an old man). If James was 20 years older, then he would have been 25 when he wrote this account.

While this seems highly unusual (especially if James was only 10-15 years older than Jesus) we should remember that James was portrayed in the NT and elsewhere as extraordinary. Many see him in the NT as a rather mundane figure, in contrast to the more exotic details from later Christian writing. While the NT might not mention that he was a Nazarite, it does mention quite a few things about James that point to him being exceptional. He was the son of Joseph, a righteous man. He was the leader of the Jerusalem church. His Epistle is an example of wisdom literature, not dry ethics. It is entirely plausible, even to be expected, that the son of an exceptionally pious Jew would be a Nazarite, even from birth. The story of Anna and Joachim shows that such a dedication to God was not implausible, and had happened in the OT with Samuel and Samson. If we were to look for a likely Nazarite in the NT, it would be James. He even had Paul pay for the services associated with Nazarite vows.

It is significant that the author does not identify himself as a Christian, or a leader, or he does not mention that Jesus rose from the dead. He does call Jesus “Lord” and “Christ,” but strangely this is only at the end of the text. This could be a later addition, possibly by James himself. It is significant that the ending is in contrast to the rest of the text, both in calling Jesus Lord and Messiah (not mentioned elsewhere) and identifying himself as James (presumably a character in the story never named). It seems a forger would have had the titles of Jesus in the main body of the text, and also made clear that James was the son of Joseph, yet he seems unconcerned with these issues.


Our next post will give a final reflection on some of the issues raised by the text.

Notes on The Infancy Gospel of James, pt. 5 (chapters 13-16)

Chapters 13-16

Chapter 13

“And she was in her sixth month (ἐγένετο <αὐτῇ> Ϛ´ μήν); and, behold, Joseph came back from his building (τῶν οἰκοδομῶν), and, entering into his house, he discovered that she was big with child. And he smote his face, and threw himself on the ground upon the sackcloth, and wept bitterly, saying: With what face shall I look upon the Lord my God? and what prayer shall I make about this maiden? because I received her a virgin out of the temple of the Lord, and I have not watched over her. Who is it that has hunted me down? Who has done this evil thing in my house, and defiled the virgin? Has not the history (ἱστορία) of Adam been repeated in me? For just as Adam was in the hour of his singing praise, and the serpent came, and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me also. And Joseph stood up from the sackcloth, and called Mary, and said to her: O thou who hast been cared for by God (Μεμελημένη), why hast thou done this and forgotten the Lord thy God? Why hast thou brought low thy soul (ἐταπείνωσας τὴν ψυχήν σου), thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel? And she wept bitterly (πικρῶς), saying: I am innocent, and have known no man. And Joseph said to her: Whence then is that which is in thy womb? And she said: As the Lord my God liveth, I do not know whence it is to me.”

Joseph has been out building, and returns home to find that Mary has been busy “building” as well! Joseph reacts to the news that his betrothed is pregnant by recalling the “history” of Adam and Eve: “Has not the history of Adam been repeated in me? For just as Adam was in the hour of his singing praise, and the serpent came, and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me also.”

The connection of Mary to Eve is pregnant with meaning. He goes on: “Why hast thou brought low thy soul, thou that wast brought up in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel?” Again the claim is repeated about being fed by an angel, and again the soul is “brought low” just as Anna had been brought low. Yet Anna had been disgraced for not conceiving (being a barren wife), while Mary is disgraced for being fertile (since she is supposed to be a virgin). The chapter concludes with “And Joseph said to her: Whence then is that which is in thy womb? And she said: As the Lord my God liveth, I do not know whence it is to me.” Here we have the repetition of ignorance on the part of Mary, in spite of the situation being explained by the angel.

Joseph and then Mary both “weep bitterly” in ch. 13, and this is repeated in ch. 15 with Mary weeping bitterly in front of the priest. Chapter 16 has Joseph “in tears” in front of the priest, but the language used is not identical to the earlier three occurrences.


Chapter 14

“And Joseph was greatly afraid, and retired from her, and considered what he should do in regard to her. And Joseph said: If I conceal her sin, I find myself fighting against the law of the Lord; and if I expose her to the sons of Israel, I am afraid lest that which is in her be from an angel, and I shall be found giving up innocent blood to the doom of death. What then shall I do with her? I will put her away from me secretly. And night came upon him; and, behold, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, saying: Be not afraid for this maiden, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she will bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. And Joseph arose from sleep, and glorified the God of Israel, who had given him this grace; and he kept her.”

Ch. 14 largely corresponds to the reaction of Joseph found in the New Testament (Matthew 1:19). What is most interesting for us is that we are in the same situation as Joseph: if we consider this text as being spurious, we may be fighting against God. If we consider the text authentic, we may be accepting a “bastard” of a text.


Chapter 15

“And Annas the scribe came to him, and said: Why hast thou not appeared in our assembly? And Joseph said to him: Because I was weary from my journey, and rested the first day. And he turned, and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest and said to him: Joseph, whom thou didst vouch for, has committed a grievous crime. And the priest said: How so? And he said: He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, and has married her by stealth, and has not revealed it to the sons of Israel. And the priest answering, said: Has Joseph done this? Then said Annas the scribe: Send officers, and thou wilt find the virgin with child. And the officers went away, and found it as he had said; and they brought her along with Joseph to the tribunal. And the priest said: Mary, why hast thou done this? and why hast thou brought thy soul low, and forgotten the Lord thy God? Thou that wast reared in the holy of holies, and that didst receive food from the hand of an angel, and didst hear the hymns, and didst dance before Him, why hast thou done this? And she wept bitterly, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, I am pure before Him, and know not a man. And the priest said to Joseph: Why hast thou done this? And Joseph said: As the Lord liveth, I am pure concerning her. Then said the priest: Bear not false witness, but speak the truth. Thou hast married her by stealth, and hast not revealed it to the sons of Israel, and hast not bowed thy head under the strong hand, that thy seed might be blessed. And Joseph was silent.

Ch. 15 recounts the discovery of Mary’s pregnancy by a Jewish scribe, and the couple is brought to trial. Again the feeding of the angel and dwelling in the holy of holies is referenced, as is the bringing of her soul low by her “defilement.”

Joseph and Mary are called to account by a certain “Annas.” We have already seen that the characters who are named are named for a particular reason. The priest and high priest function in the story without needing to be named, so when they are named this is significant. The accuser of Joachim in ch. 1 was Reuben, the defiler. The accuser of Joseph and Mary in ch. 15 was “Annas,” the scribe. Does he have a similar background story?

We can say with confidence that the author here is alluding to Annas ben Seth, who was appointed by Quirinius to be the high priest in 6 CE. We can be fairly sure that he is in mind because this Annas fits the description and would later be an important figure, serving as high priest as well as having 4 sons that served as high priest.

We don’t know when Annas was born. Some sources say 23 BCE, but this seems unlikely. He was high priest in 6 CE, which would have made him only 29. This would be very young for the high priesthood, to say the least. Yet it is possible inc the appointment was by Quirinius, and it was typically bought rather than earned. The real difficulty is that Annas’ son Eleazar was made high priest in 17 CE, which means that he was born at the earliest in 10 BCE, when Annas was only 13!

If we approach this problem from a different angle, the numbers begin to make sense. Annas was made high priest in 6 CE, and we can assume that he was 30-60 when appointed. This means that he was born in the period of 54-24 BCE. If Eleazar was made high priest in 17 CE, we can assume his birth was from 43-13 BCE. Annas and Eleazar are separated by a mere 11 years, which indicates that Annas was older when serving than Eleazar was (since Annas was unlikely to have fathered Eleazar when 11).

This comes into play when we look at the narrative of the PJ. Annas the scribe accuses Joseph and Mary around the 5 BCE (give or take a year or two). If we take the highly questionable (and unattributed) birth date of 23 BCE as factual, then we have a young 18 year old Annas as a scribe, a plausible outcome. Yet if we take the more rational dating range of 54-24 BCE, we have Annas as a scribe of 19-49 years old. This entire range is acceptable. We can infer from the fact that Annas was made high priest only a decade later that Annas the scribe was powerful in influence. He was the most influential Jewish leader of the period, it would seem, establishing a high priestly dynasty. We can see that this “Annas the scribe” named by our author is not simply a scribe who happens to be named Annas, but Annas the future high priest and patriarch  of the high priests until the mid-40s. He was the one person who symbolized the power of the high priesthood in that era, a high priesthood that was opposed to Jesus.


Chapter 16

“And the priest said: Give up the virgin whom thou didst receive out of the temple of the Lord. And Joseph burst into tears. And the priest said: I will give you to drink of the water of the ordeal of the Lord, and He shall make manifest your sins in your eyes. And the priest took the water, and gave Joseph to drink and sent him away to the hill-country; and he returned unhurt. And he gave to Mary also to drink, and sent her away to the hill-country; and she returned unhurt. And all the people wondered that sin did not appear in them. And the priest said: If the Lord God has not made manifest your sins, neither do I judge you. And he sent them away. And Joseph took Mary, and went away to his own house, rejoicing and glorifying the God of Israel.”

Ch. 16 has both Joseph and Mary being given the water of judgement and being sent into the hill country. Both survive, which indicates that they were telling the truth. The ceremony was an ancient practice used when adultery was suspected, although it was only administered to the woman in Numbers 5:18-27 (Nutzman’s article also covers this in detail). The reaction was that “all the people wondered that sin did not appear in them.” This recalls the sin not appearing to Joachim in the plate of the priest’s forehead in ch. 5. Again the communication of God is through the Temple and priests , and only occasionally through angels outside of the Temple.