Margaret Barker on the Importance of the Ancient Temple in the Establishment of Early Christian Worship and Liturgy
In recent numbers of the FARMS Review, we have often called attention to Margaret Barker’s work, and our writers have discussed her studies as being important for the consideration of Latter-day Saints. Barker is an independent British scholar in biblical studies. We offer here two reviews of her recent book entitled Temple Themes in Christian Worship. It is her thirteenth book, each building on the past ones, and hence provides a helpful summary of significant aspects of her work. Her primary interest has been Christian origins, and her unique contribution is the development of her “temple theology,” in which she attempts to demonstrate the great importance of the Jerusalem Temple—particularly the First Temple (Solomon’s)—in shaping the beliefs and practices of the early Christian church.
We sense among Latter-day Saints a growing interest in Margaret Barker’s findings as providing significant insights. There also appears to be an increasing interest in her scholarship among biblical students and ecclesiastical leaders. In 2008 the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded Mrs. Barker a Doctor of Divinity degree “in recognition of her work on the Jerusalem Temple and the origins of Christian liturgy, which has made a significant new contribution to our understanding of the New Testament and opened up important fields for research.” 1
The first of our two pieces is by Professor John W. Welch of Brigham Young University. He was invited to be one of six speakers at an academic colloquium held to introduce and discuss Barker’s new work; the event was organized by the Society of St. Catherine of Siena together with T&T Clark, venerable publishers of the book. We print here his remarks made on 5 March 2008 at the Notre Dame University campus at Trafalgar Square in London. Welch is the author of a new study, The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple (Ashgate, 2009).
Our more extensive second article is a review essay by Frederick M. Huchel, an independent Mormon scholar who has studied Margaret Barker’s work closely for several years. He is also a diligent student of Latter-day Saint doctrine and history, with a particular interest in Mormon temples and temple worship.
1. “Archbishop of Canterbury awards Lambeth Degrees,” http://www.archbishopof canterbury.org/2218 (accessed 30 April 2009). Also quoted at http://margaretbarker.com.