Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mountains and Mediators: New Scholarship

People familiar with Bible Basics for Catholics or some of my classroom teaching know that I like to draw stick figures on mountains as a way of summarizing salvation history.  It looks whimsical, but what I am doing is actually based on scholarship about the concept of the cosmic mountain in the ancient Near East and the biblical tradition.  Here's a book that's just been published on the subject:

The Tabernacle Prefigured: Cosmic Mountain Ideology in Genesis and Exodus (Biblical Tools and Studies 15; Peeters, 2013)

L. Michael Morales (mmorales@ligonier.org)
Old Testament/Pentateuch, Trinity College/University of Bristol

Abstract

This thesis examines the creation, deluge, and exodus (sea crossing/Sinai) accounts of Genesis and Exodus in relation to cosmic mountain ideology, demonstrating in each narrative the cosmogonic
pattern: through the waters to the mountain for worship, and arguing that these narratives function to explain the logic and necessity of the tabernacle cultus, temples being the architectural embodiment of the cosmic mountain. While cosmic mountain ideology is an acknowledged backdrop to the religions of the ancient Near East, and to the tabernacle/temple cultus of Israel in particular, sufficient attention to its function in these biblical narratives has been wanting. The cosmic mountain will be seen to serve as a symbol for approaching God so that the idea of a “gate liturgy” (in a similar fashion to that of Psalms 15 and 24: “Who shall ascend the mount of YHWH?”) is highlighted in each narrative: Adam and Eve must descend the mount upon their transgression, making the return ascent in worship a key feature in the drama leading up to the tabernacle account (and, perhaps, beyond); Noah, being found just and blameless in his generation, is thus allowed entrance into the ark, something of a “prototype” of the tabernacle; and Moses alone is permitted ascent to the summit of Mount Sinai, a role later mimicked in the instructions for the high priest’s annual entrance into the holy of holies. To dwell in the divine Presence via the tabernacle cultus thus presents something of a full-circle, albeit mediated, return to the original intent of creation.

4 comments:

Luke Arredondo said...

Wow! Where can I get that book??

John Bergsma said...

It's forthcoming from Peeters, which is a Belgian press. You can check their website: http://www.peeters-leuven.be/

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Mediators Los Angeles said...

Excellently amazing and exciting too. Can you please mention me the source of your reference... I am happy that at least somebody gave this subject an attention.