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The Purity of the Kingdom

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Chapter Summary

Meals, as recognized thirty years ago by Morton Smith, were principal expressions within Judaism of what constituted purity. Israel was understood as a people elected to serve God by producing pure offerings for the Temple, which those designated as priests prepared and sacrificed. Erection of the temple of Onias in Egypt (in opposition to the Tobiad administration in Jerusalem) demonstrates that how sacrifice was offered, and by whom, was held by one familial group of priests to be a better measure of the acceptability of worship than where sacrifice was offered. The ideology has become emblematic of Western values, to the point that communities which invoke issues of purity are commonly treated as sects if they are found within contemporary societies. In historical and literary terms, however, Jesus belongs within a system of religion which regards purity and impurity as matters of routine.

Keywords: Israel; Jerusalem; Jesus; Judaism; Morton Smith; purity



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