Book Review: The Temple and the Tabernacle

9781493401567I don’t ever remember learning about the Temple or Tabernacle while growing up. That is not to say it never happened, but if I did, it obviously was not done in a compelling or memorable way. Now, I can honestly say studying the Temple and Tabernacle is definitely something that gives me great joy and excitement. Thus, when I had the opportunity to read The Temple and the Tabernacle, by J. Daniel Hays, I was really excited!

The book was published this year (2016) by Baker Books, and is quite impressive in its print quality. Normally I evaluate a book entirely on the basis of its content, but I have to say the quality of the print job (specifically the images within the book) is a step above the competition. This actually makes a big difference since Hays discusses details of the Temple and Tabernacle which are illustrated throughout the book in well-designed images.

As far as the layout of the book, Hays has eight chapters:

  1. The Temple and the Tabernacle: An Overview
  2. God’s Garden Temple
  3. The Ark and the Tabernacle
  4. Solomon’s Temple
  5. The Departure of God from the Temple
  6. The Second Temple
  7. The Temple of God in the New Testament
  8. Conclusions: What Does in All Mean for Us Today?

In each of these chapters Hays pays close attention to detail in the biblical text and constructs convincing arguments about the importance of God’s presence for humanity in the Tabernacle and Temple. Probably the most significant part of the book for me was his discussion of Solomon’s temple. Hays goes through the details to demonstrate that Solomon’s construction of the Temple appears to be without due regard for God. When comparing the Tabernacle construction with Solomon’s Temple, there are significant differences in the details and descriptions. Many of these differences do have the appearance of Solomon’s “touch” rather than divine mandate. This was a really interesting chapter and I will have to read it again to think through the arguments in greater detail. In any case, t is an excellent presentation of detail. Finally, Hays’ discussion of the NT passages which describe the Church as the temple of God is an excellent summation of the biblical theological theme of God’s presence with His people.

The major disagreement that I have with Hays is his treatment of Ezekiel 40-48 where he argues against a literal temple. Despite agreeing with Hays and his overall theological treatment of the Temple theme, I think there is no reason to disallow Ezekiel 40-48 to be literal.

This is an excellent resource which discusses the details of the Tabernacle and Temple, but not in a dry fashion. It is done in a lively manner with good pictures and detailed annotations which will help anyone better understand the significance of the Temple and Tabernacle to the biblical story line.

Thanks to Baker Publishing for a review copy. This did not influence my review.

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs The Bible Sojourner podcast and Youtube channel.

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