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Jesus and Land Sacred and Social Space in Second Temple Judaism by Dr. Karen J. Wenell

Jesus and Land Sacred and Social Space in Second Temple Judaism

Part of the The Library of New Testament Studies Series


Jesus and Land Sacred and Social Space in Second Temple Judaism by Dr. Karen J. Wenell

Beliefs about land, or the Abrahamic land promise, were an important part of Second Temple Judaism. Within the Roman Empire, the reality of life for Jews 'in the land' was different from the experience of Jews in the Diaspora. Among the diverse expressions of Judaism that flourished in the land prior to the revolt, there are indications that Jesus paid attention to the relationship between God, people and land. However, there are marked differences between Jesus' millenarian vision of sacred space and that of other groups at that time. The methodology employed in Wenell's study views religious space as having both sacred and social aspects and draws upon insights from sociology and social anthropology. It focuses on three main areas, all of which are relevant to beliefs about 'the land': temple, purity and the twelve. A comparative approach with other first century groups reveals Jesus as a prophetic figure who does not focus on a temple as the centre of God's kingdom, nor on purity as the means of maintaining group identity in the sacredness of the land. Instead, Jesus takes up land imagery in calling a group of twelve disciples in a prophetic and symbolic action with implications for Jesus' vision of sacred space and the social organization of that space. Both positively and negatively, Jesus' attitude toward the three areas of temple, purity and twelve points to unique aspects of his message and to distinctive beliefs poignantly relevant to the Abrahamic promise of the land.


Review in International Review of Biblical Studies, vol. 54:2007/08 carefully argued monograph...fresh detailed discussion Journal for the study of the New Testament, 30 May 2008--Sanford Lakoff . ..this book raises many important questions and is significant for anyone interested in the study of space in early Christianity. -Eric Stewart, Biblical Theology Bulletin, Vol. 40

About the Author

Karen Wenell obtained her doctorate from the University of Glasgow, UK, in 2004 and has since taught graduate students as a faculty member of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Presently, she is assistant editor for the Expository Times and tutor for the Open Theological College at the University of Gloucestershire, UK.

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Book Info

Publication date

21st June 2007


Dr. Karen J. Wenell

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T.& T.Clark Ltd an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


224 pages


Biblical studies & exegesis



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