In Is. 1.11-17 the whole Levitical system seems to be rejected by the prophet. The word of YHWH God says that he is fed up with burnt offerings. The blood of bulls, lambs and goats does not please him. In fact, the whole process is a trampling of the temple courts. The various festivals and assemblies fair no better.
It appears to me that contextually (both literarily and historically) God is not against the temple cult, per se. If Israel reforms their ethical behavior, acknowledging the part of the covenant that demands they care for the downcast, the temple cult will retain its function. It is rejected at this point because animal sacrifice does not cover their blatant rejection of covenant ethics.
While no particular passage from the Pauline corpus or the Book of Hebrews comes to mind at the immediate moment (though I am sure the principles are there whether or not Isaiah is cited specifically) it would seem that this is the tradition within which they wrote. The Essene sect did the same thing denouncing the temple cult as corrupt. So we see the Christian sect was not the first Jewish sect to see the temple as worth discarding when it was not functioning properly (something the prophecies of Jesus emphasized as well).
If YHWH (through the prophet) expected the temple cult to regain its status once the nation reformed what is the justification for early Christianity’s disregard for the temple. I know early in the history of the church those in Jerusalem seem to have been temple loyalist though Christians (at least we get this impression from portions of the Book of Acts), yet the Pauline churches obviously felt no such obligation (being mostly Gentiles?).
It would seem to me that the early church walks in the Isaianic tradition not merely in the area of ethical disobedience canceling out the temple cult aspect of the covenant, but disobedience pure and simple. If the early church saw Jesus as a prophetic Messiah condemning the temple as corrupt, who was vindicated first by his resurrection from the dead, and second in the destruction of the temple by Rome, there was no reason to expect temple restoration, at least not without the Messiah present.
I am not sure that I am arguing for anything or asking any particular question. I am just thinking aloud. If you have thoughts on how this passage may have impacted the anti-temple cult posture of many in the early church please comment.
Ironically, I was thinking the exact same thing yesterday as I read ahead in Isaiah 1 and Acts (supplementary reading) for a class I have on the theology of James this semester. One thing I noticed was that the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem retained the practice of going to temple even past the summary statements in chapters 2 and 4. Chapter 21 finds James asking Paul to undergo a purification process in the temple, seemingly indicating a practice of interaction with the Temple even after the church is flourishing. I’ve always thought that attendance at the Temple was something that would have fizzled out as the church grew, but that does not seem to be the case.
This is just me talking out loud too 🙂
@Mike: It seems like this was no easy subject for the early church to address. The Jerusalem church must not wanted to have wanted to break with the temple cult easily. Acts seems to indicate many Pharisees were converted and I assume the temple cult was common to their worship as it was for most Judeans.
On the other hand, I could see Galilean and diaspora Jews, as well as sectarian groups like the Qumran community, easily accepting the idea that the temple was not necessary.
Paul and Jerusalem’s tug-of-war likely was a depiction of a broader struggle within early Judaism that already existed and I assume that most anti-temple cult rhetoric was founded on texts like this one from Isaiah.
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