Book review by Archbishop Spataro

EARTH, A DIVINE GIFT

CREATION, a Biblical Vision for the Environment, By Prof. Margaret Barker, 326pp, T and T Clark International (A Continuum Imprint) London/NY, 2010, www.continuumbooks.com With a Foreword by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

Reviewed by Francis C. Spataro

Prof. Margaret Barker is a very well known and prolific Old Testament scholar and master of Biblical Hebrew. The central theme of her research is that the Rabbis after the destruction of the 2nd Temple created a religious reform Movement which today is Rabbinical Judaism. These were Rabbis Ben Zakkai, Ben Hakanah and Ismael. However, the early Christians kept the ancient traditions of Israel. And “Israel” meant those who saw God. This is the reason why the early Christian Church eclipsed Rabbinical Judaism because it followed an older more authentic Religion dating from the First Temple. It is this Temple Theology that is expressed in both the Epistle to the Hebrews and in John’s Revelation.

While the Septuagint(LXX) contains the true Messianic texts, the Masoretic version does not. It had been edited to back up the Reform Movement without much of the Wisdom Literature conrained in the LXX. At Qumran have been found MSS of both the Book of Enoch and Jubilees which today are canonical only in the Ethiopic Bible.

Since the Presence of God was to be found in the Holy of Holies of the Temple, when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans where is IT? According to Rabbinical Judaism, in the Torah. Thus in the synagogue, the Place where the Torah is kept represents the Holy of Holies. In the Christian Church it is the Church or Qahal/Ecclesia where the Presence of the Almighty resides. Thus the Presence of God in the world is to be found in Creation.

I had the great honor of meeting the author, Dr. Barker, at St. Vladimir’s Seminary where she gave the Schmemann Lecture for 2012. She autographed my copy of her book and we chatted briefly about her research. Dr. Barker told me that once in London, a Rabbi had approached her and said that he wanted to hug her for restoring their ancient tradition. The great Philo of Alexandria spent a life time interpreting Genesis. This book by Margaret Barker is in that category: it is a revelation about Revelation.

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Historian, musician and educationalist.
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