The following is my presentation, entitled “Ascending into the Hill of the Lord: The Psalms as a Key to Understanding the Rituals of the First Temple” from the Expound Symposium. Please note that this is a draft — it is in the format in which I presented it at the symposium — it has not yet reached its final form.  To view the Scribd document at a more decent and legible size, please click on the first button at the bottom of the document: “view in fullscreen”.

First, here is the abstract:

The Psalms contain many allusions and also direct references to the temple and temple ritual and are one of the few windows we have into the religious experience of the First Temple in Jerusalem. This paper will attempt to shed some light on ritual practices alluded to in the Psalms that I will argue were central to the ritual system of that Temple. Dr. Silviu Bunta, in a recent publication, argues that 1 Enoch 14 should not, as is commonly argued, be understood as the earliest example of the ascent to heaven motif in Jewish literature, but that Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 1 should be seen as a temple vision and, thus, as an earlier, biblical account of an ascent to heaven.  Moving a step beyond Bunta’s conclusions, I argue that the heavenly ascent motif can be traced even further back, into the pre-exilic traditions of Solomon’s Temple, as illustrated by a number of pre-exilic Psalms and other biblical traditions, and that a ritualized ascent into heaven to see the face of God was one of the central features of the temple cult.  Descriptions of temple pilgrimages, festal processions, passage through temple gates, divine theophanies, and other religious experiences involving the temple can be seen to parallel key elements of the later heavenly ascent literature.

Ascending Into the Hill of the Lord: The Psalms as a Key to Understanding the Rituals of the First Temple

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