Sinai Torah versus Zion Torah


I have been just reading and thinking about the whole relation between Sinai and Zion. Hartmut Gese’s chapter on The Law in his book Essays in Biblical Theology is extremely stimulating. Charles Scobie’s book on biblical theology has some interesting thoughts on this subject as well (The Ways of our God , pp. 517-550, 760-772). Gese makes the point that the Torah given at Sinai was given to one nation and there was an exclusive emphasis on it– a wall of separation was erected between the Holy and the Unholy. When the covenant was made and the atonement was made, representatives of Israel were allowed to ascend the mountain and eat and drink with God. The text clearly says that they saw God and were not harmed (24). They had unbroken fellowship with their Creator. Incidentally if you want to read an excellent book on Exodus 19-24 from a biblical theological perspective, I commend the Australian John Davies’. recent monograph, A Royal Priesthood: Literary and Intertextual Perspectives on an Image of Israel in Exodus 19:6 (JSOTSup, 395). It views this communion as a return to the Garden paradise in Eden. At any rate, to return to Gese, he sees the great banquet on Mount Zion at which all the nations have been gathered in Isaiah (25) as the eschatological projection of Sinai. But now there is a stress on inclusion rather than exclusion as holiness has permeated everything–it has knocked down all barriers. Thus death–the epitome of the unclean and unholy –has been eliminated forever. Here is the context for the inclusive Zion Torah, which seeks to embrace all (cf. Is. 2:1-5, 42:1-6). Gese develops the idea further in the NT on the Sermon on the Mount, where there is the fulfillment of this Zion Torah in the teaching of Jesus of Nazereth. But it is in Jesus’ life in particular, where this movement of holiness smashing down all barriers is effectively seen. He dares to touch the leper, he is touched by the contaminated woman, he touches the dead and raises them. His death brings about the radical cleansing for all on the day of atonement. And He sends his disciples into all the world, for he is its Lord. Great thoughts.

5 Responses to “Sinai Torah versus Zion Torah”

  1. Dempster: Exodus and Biblical Theology, and Thoughts on Sinai and Zion « For His Renown Says:

    […] Posted by Jim Hamilton on October 28, 2008 Stephen Dempster has just put up an intriguing post over at the biblical theology site, reflecting on some comparisons Hartmut Gese makes between the Sinai Torah and the Zion Torah. Check it out.  […]

  2. In Light of the Gospel » Blog Archive » Exodus and Biblical Theology Says:

    […] some interesting reflections on the protology and eschatology of some events in Exodus at the Biblical Theology blog, particularly the relationship between Sinai and Zion. The short end of it is that the events […]

  3. Dempster: Sinai Torah and Zion Torah « SoCal Theologica: Musings from the West Coast Says:

    […] a friend of mine as well as a respected older colleague.  He has just posted a great post at the Biblical Theology blog.  Here is an excerpt. Thus death–the epitome of the unclean and unholy –has been […]

  4. Sinai and Zion: How Learning the Terrain of God’s Holy Hill Helps Us Read Isaiah | Via Emmaus Says:

    […] A Study in Old Testament Theology. Describing the connection between Zion and Sinai, he writes (on an old blog that had so much promise . . . but little fulfillment […]

  5. Stephen Dempster Says:

    Thanks David. You are right. Too much promise….little fulfillment! And I have miles to go before I sleep….Blessings on your work! You said on your blog that you are a lover of all Michigan sports teams. I am an avid, die-hard Red Wing fan!
    Blessings and Shalom

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