Temple concerns and high-priestly prosecutions from Peter to James: Between narrative and history

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This article demonstrates that according to the Acts of the Apostles, the major charges brought against Peter, Stephen, and Paul - as well as, in later Christian texts, against James - are violations of the Temple's sacredness, both by means of statements about and actions within it. On the narrative level, in their portrayal of the conflicts and trials of these early Christian leaders, the ancient Christian sources argued that because the early Christian community in Jerusalem sought to partake in the Temple worship in its own way, Jesus' followers were falsely accused of violating the Temple's sacredness. On the historical level, it may be concluded that these events were authentic, and that they were affected by two factors: (a) The assumption, on the part of the Jewish community, that Jesus represented an anti-Temple stance. This assumption was based on Jesus' 'cleansing' action at the Temple, and the saying attributed to him regarding the destruction of the Temple and the erection of a new one 'not made with [human] hands'. As such, Jesus' followers were viewed as posing a threat to the Temple as well. (b) The meticulous approach to Temple rituals held by the Sadducean high priests in charge of the prosecutions. According to their approach, any deviance from the proscribed procedure desecrated the sacrificial cult and was to be avoided at any cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-89
Number of pages26
JournalNew Testament Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Jewish-Christianity
  • Luke-acts
  • Sadducees
  • Temple
  • The Jerusalem church


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