Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Temple

Is This the High Priestly Palace Where Jesus Stood Trial?

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In the 1970s, renowned archaeological architect Leen Ritmeyer, with his training in both ancient architecture and conservation of historic sites, supervised the team that reconstructed a large palace not far from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He has tentatively identified the “Palatial Mansion” (or “Herodian Mansion”) as the place of residence for Annas the high priest. If this is correct, then this would be a “look inside” the first phase of Jesus’s Jewish trial. And it may explain things like where the courtyard was located and how Jesus could look at Peter though they were in two different locations (Jesus inside and Peter outside, warming himself by a charcoal fire).In doing background research for a forthcoming volume co-authored with Andreas Köstenberger (Jesus’s Final Week: An Easter Chronology and Commentary), I corresponded with Dr. Ritmeyer, who was kind enough to answer a few questions and to share some of his reconstruction drawings with us…

You can read the Q&A here.

It’s well worth checking out if you, like me, are into Biblical Archaeology.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 28, 2012 at 19:34

Three Ages of the Interior Life in Relation to the Jewish Temple

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Dr Taylor Marshall:

The great saints and masters of the mystical life in the Catholic tradition often speak of the three ages of the spiritual life. These stages correspond to the three areas of Solomon’s Temple:

1) Purgative (outer court)
2) Illuminative (holy place)
3) Unitive (holy of holies)

1) The purgative way is when a Christian truly examines his life and seeks to root out sin and seek personal sanctity. This entails frequenting the sacraments (especially Holy Communion and Penance), beginning a life of penance and charitable deeds, a growing hatred for venial sins, a love for Scripture (particularly the Psalms), an awareness of predominant faults, a purification of the intellect and will.

2) The illuminative way begins with a “dark night of the senses” (not the dark night of the soul), which leads to a passive purification of the senses. This journey includes a growth in the virtues, particularly the virtues of humility and charity. The soul has great confidence and hope in God. True devotion to Mary develops. Infused prayer begins.

3) The unitive way is the stage of Christian perfection and begins with the dark night of the soul. The soul now willingly suffers for God and loves God in all circumstances. The soul delights in spiritual childhood and simplicity as we see in St Therese and other great saints. These souls practice heroic virtue, which are the kind of virtues that we find in the canonized saints. Those in the unitive way accept divine abandonment and love Christ crucified. They practice reparation for the sins of others that wound Christ. They experience mystical union and other mysteries that cannot be explained.

These three ages of the mystical life are found in Solomon’s temple.

1) The stage of purification is the outer court where the altar of fire is found and also the basin for cleansing. Here, water and fire purify those who approach the temple of God’s presence.

2) The stage of illumination is the holy place within the Temple were the hallowed lamp stands giving light. Also present there is the altar of incense representing true and fruitful mental prayer and infused prayer. There is found the bread of presence which signifies a love for the Eucharist.

3) The stage of union is the holy of holies which is dark, black cubic room cut off from the eyes of most men. There is the ark of the covenant and the propitiatory. Here is the presence of God. Here is divine intimacy.

As Catholics, we should seek to be near to God. The old temple gives a simple plan. Begin with years of purification. Prayer. Penance. Daily examination of conscience.

PS: According to Saint Isidore and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, a priest must be in the unitive way before he should allow himself to be consecrated as a bishop. Also a man must first be in the illuminative way before being ordained a priest. You will find similar things said by the Saint Denys the Areopagite.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 30, 2012 at 05:45

An Atheist Church? Coming Soon

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Nonbelievers to get a place of ‘worship’:

Atheists have long criticised devout followers of faith. But now it seems Atheism is stealing from that very religious tradition by erecting a temple of worship.

Author Alain de Botton announced plans to build an Atheist temple in the U.K., reports DeZeen magazine.

A collaboration with Tom Greenall Architects, the structure will be built in the heart of London.

Dedicated to the idea of perspective, the black tower will scale 46 meters (150 ft), with each centimeter honoring earth’s age of 4.6 billion years, notes Wired.

But a place of worship isn’t the only attribute from organized religion that Atheists can benefit from, says de Botton. In his newly released book “Religion For Atheists,” the author points to design, art and community to inspire and attract a following.

Though de Botton has yet to announce a final date for opening the temple, he hopes to create a network of such buildings across the U.K., according to ArtsInfo.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

January 26, 2012 at 05:37

Posted in Culture

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Second Jewish Temple Just Waiting to be Unearthed

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Undoubtedly, the Second (and First) Temple period are under the surface of the Temple Mount:

One of the most prominent Israeli archaeologists declared today that remains from the First and Second Jewish Temple period – including the Second Temple itself – lie underneath the Temple Mount surface, just waiting to be excavated.

Dr. Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University accused the site’s Islamic custodians of destroying Jewish artifacts while attempting to turn the Temple Mount into a “giant mosque.”

“I think we will find all the remains starting from the First Temple period and remains of the Temple itself,” said Mazar, a third-generation archeologist. “I mean, no one took it out, it’s there.”

Mazar said she is “absolutely sure” remains from the First and Second Temple periods, including “the Second Temple itself,” as well as later remains from the Byzentine and early Islamic periods, are just under the surface of the Temple Mount.

Continued Mazar: “I am absolutely sure, in light of my very rich experience excavating Jerusalem for 30 years now, all these remains are waiting to be revealed. And if it can’t be done nowadays because of all kinds of sensitivities, at least we should take care that it won’t be ruined for future excavations when time comes.”

Mazar was speaking in an interview with “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s WABC Radio. 

The above and more, as well as the audio of the interview is here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

June 6, 2011 at 12:22

The Temple Institute: Blueprints and Computer Animation of the Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone

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Have been revealed:

Recently, the Temple Institute released the blueprints for the Chamber of the Hewn Stone (the Lishkat haGazit, in Hebrew), the area of the Temple complex in which the Sanhedrin would convene. This is very exciting to see, and makes the possibility of the Holy Temple’s rebuilding somewhat tangible. Even more so is the computer-generated, virtual “fly-through” that they have created as well. You can really visualize what it might be like.

If you’re not familiar with the Chamber of Hewn Stone, it probably because there’s not a great deal of information circulating about it. This chamber was used by the Sanhedrin for judgement. They would hear cases and deliberate upon them in this area.

When Israel became occupied by foreign powers, the Sanhedrin removed themselves from this location as an act of protest, since their power was essentially stripped from them (particularly in the area of capital cases). Although I had thought it took place much earlier, the Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia (p.93) says this took place in 29 C.E.

Some have claimed that this would have been where Jesus would have been taken and tried upon his arrest. However, there are several problems with this assumption, two of which are 1) The Sanhedrin could not try capital cases at night (Sanhedrin 35a-b), and 2) he was not tried by the Sanhedrin proper. He was sentenced before a kangaroo court, which did not legally have the authority to any sentence at all.

Also interesting is the fact that of all of the parts of the Holy Temple which they could have been the initial focus, the Chamber of the Hewn Stone was chosen. Why?

Well find out here.

Interesting stuff.

And here is a virtual computer-generated walk-through of the Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone:

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 28, 2011 at 15:44

Roman Forum's House and Temple of Vestal Virgins Open

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After years of repairs, the Roman Forum and the Temple of Vesta have been opened to the public:

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

February 6, 2011 at 15:22


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