The Works of Margaret Barker

Listed in Order of Publishing Date

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The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2005; originally published by SPCK, 1987. Paperback, 328 pages. The Older Testament is a radically new approach to many problems of both Old and New Testaments. It takes as its basis the theology of the Book of Enoch, lost to western Christendom for many centuries, but here recognized as providing the most consistent set of clues to the nature of Israel’s pre-exilic religion. Barker’s reconstruction of the pre-Deuteronomic religion throws a startling light on much of the imagery of the New Testament and shows how closely the earlier Christian expectations were based upon the ancient royal cult in Jerusalem. This book represents an important and original contribution to our understanding of Judaism and early Christianity.

The Lost Prophet: The Book of Enoch and Its Influence on Christianity. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2005; originally published by SPCK, 1988. Paperback, 132 pages. Reading the Book of Enoch unleashes a new understanding of early Christianity and one of the most important writings of the pre-Christian period, also kept and used by the early Church. Its treatment of the problem of evil, of humankind’s relationship with the creation, of the role of the expected Messiah and of other key themes in Judaism and Christianity challenges many traditional assumptions and throws dramatic new light on our understanding of Jesus and his message.

The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2008; originally published by SPCK, 1991. Paperback, 212 pages. For over a thousand years the Temple in Jerusalem dominated both the city and its people. Yet although the first Christians were steeped in Temple myths and symbols, the implications of this for our understanding of Christian origins have scarcely been explored. The Gate of Heaven introduces a wealth of lesser known ancient texts and reveals how fundamental Christian beliefs such as the Incarnation and the Trinity had their roots in Temple imagery, how the Temple was the setting for all the apocalyptic writings of Judaism and Christianity, and how our understanding of the New Testament, early Christian writings and even familiar hymns can be enriched by an awareness of their original context.

The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God. Westminster John Knox, 1992. Paperback, 272 pages. Many of the old certainties have been destroyed by new knowledge. What has become clear is that the evidence indicates that pre-Christian Judaism was not monotheistic in the sense that we use that word. Many in first century Palestine retained a world view derived from the more ancient religion of Israel, in which there was a High God and several Sons of God, one of whom was Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel. Yahweh the Lord could be manifested on earth in human form, as an angel, or in the Davidic king. It was as a manifestation of Yahweh, the Son of God, that Jesus was acknowledged as Son of God, Messiah and Lord.

On Earth as it is in Heaven: Temple Symbolism in the New Testament. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009; originally published by T&T Clark, 1995. Paperback, 86 pages. As more and more is being discovered about the beginnings of Christianity, a whole new understanding of the context of Christian origins is emerging. Any serious student now needs a knowledge of the traditions of the Temple. Through a close study of the Pseudepigrapha and other non-canonical writings, Barker examines four symbols of temple Theology: Light, Life, Blood and the Robes of Glory. She shows how details missing from the Old Testament descriptions can be recovered from other ancient texts to throw new light upon many significant passages of the Bible.

The Risen Lord: The Jesus of History as the Christ of Faith. T&T Clark, 1996. Paperback, 184 pages. In this book, Margaret Barker explores and explains apparent inconsistencies in the New Testament to present a new way of understanding Christian origins. She shows how the original understanding of resurrection may in fact be Jesus’ mystical experience at his baptism, when he was raised up and transformed into the divine Son, how the resurrection proof texts in the New Testament may be the ‘ascent texts’ of the royal high priesthood, and how Jesus may have seen himself as the anointed high priest, the Messiah, come to offer himself as the atonement sacrifice of the last days. This work redraws the map of the New Testament and offers a new understanding of resurrection, Christology, atonement and parousia. The conclusion is that Jesus was indeed ‘the author and finisher of our faith.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Which God Gave to Him to Show to His Servants What Must Soon Take Place. Continuum, 2000. Paperback, 462 pages. A new and transforming approach to the Book of Revelation. Barker bases her study on a fresh reading of the primary sources. As an Old Testament scholar, she can read Revelation as Old Testament prophecy — ancient Temple oracles that inspired Jesus and his own prophecies, and influenced the whole Jerusalem church. Jerusalem was waiting for the Great High Priest to return and complete the atonement at the end of the tenth Jubilee. This work illuminates the formative years of Christianity in the social, religious and political situation of mid-first century Palestine, in a quite remarkable way. It will have profound implications for the understanding of Christian origins and the development of Christian liturgy.

The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy. T&T Clark, 2003. Paperback, 423 pages. Most scholarship on the origins of Christian liturgy has concentrated upon the synagogues. Barker’s present work on the Jerusalem Temple makes a significant new contribution to our understanding. The subjects addressed include: the evidence for an oral tradition of Temple learning in the early Church, and Christianity as a conscious continuation of the Temple; the roots of the Eucharist in the high priestly rituals of the Day of Atonement and the Bread of the Presence; the meaning of the holy of holies and the Christian sanctuary, and the development of Church architecture and iconography; the cosmology of Temple and Church and how this illuminates the New Testament; and the formation of the Christian Scriptures.

Temple Theology: An Introduction. SPCK, 2004. Paperback, 104 pages. How was it that Christian theology emerged so rapidly and with such a high degree of definition? What patterns of interpretation, already known in late second Temple Palestine, crystallized around the person of Jesus Christ and his work? Barker believes that Christian theology matured so quickly because it was a return to a far older faith. Those who preserved the ancient tradition rejected the second temple and longed for the restoration of the original true temple and the faith of Abraham and Melchizedek, the first priest king. In this fascinating discussion, the author refutes the scholarly assumption that crucial Christian concepts such as the Trinity, the earth as a reflection of heaven, and the cosmic structure of the atonement, are informed by Greek culture. Rather, she argues, they are drawn from the eclipsed faith of the first temple.

An Extraordinary Gathering of Angels. M Q Publications, 2004. Hardcover, 432 pages. A fresh and unique study of angels from the Jewish and Christian traditions. Featuring over 170 illustrations, including paintings, frescoes, stained glass windows, icons and sculpture. More than 100 extracts and quotations. Essays on angels in ancient and modern culture: angels in the Bible and in worship, the ranks of angels, angels as guides and guardians, angels in cosmology and cosmic harmony, and the role of angels in inspiration and revelation. Interviews with religious leaders, Jewish and Christian theologians, and writers including Philip Pullman.

The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom. SPCK, 2007. Paperback, 144 pages. Barker locates the roots of the idea of the Kingdom of God in the holy of holies, the place of the throne, and shows how the ideals of the holy of holies were the inspiration for the various later beliefs about the Kingdom. She shows how fashions in scholarship have obscured much of the ancient evidence, and then reconstructs the traditions of the high priesthood — Enoch and Melchizedek as well as Aaron — before reading the gospel evidence with this new paradigm.

Temple Themes in Christian Worship. T&T Clark, 2007. Paperback, 286 pages. Temple Themes explores the earliest links between Synagogue and Church, and questions the ‘synagogue’ roots of many Christian practices, finding them rather in the temple. She develops the implications of the ‘Second God,’ originally set out in The Great Angel, and then locates the origin of Christian baptism in the high priestly initiation rituals and not in existing Jewish conversion rites. The Wisdom tradition is proposed as a formative influence in the Eucharist, to be developed in a future book on Marian imagery.

Christmas: The Original Story. SPCK, 2008. Paperback, 191 pages. Barker uses her knowledge of temple tradition and Jewish culture in the time of Jesus to set the story in its original cultural and literary context. By examining the widely used Infancy Gospel of James, and by uncovering layers of allusion in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, she reveals what the Christmas story originally meant. She then goes on to show how this understanding can be found in later texts such as the Arabic Infancy Gospel and legends known in mediaeval Europe.

Creation: The Biblical Vision for the Environment. T&T Clark, 2009. Paperback, 338 pages. Barker contributes a characteristically Christian voice to contemporary theological debates on the environment. Most of the issues we face today were not those that faced the early Christian community and so there are often no directly relevant biblical teachings. Barker’s starting point is the question of what Jesus himself would have believed about the Creation. What could the early Church have believed about the Creation? She then shows how much of this belief is embedded, often unrecognised, in the New Testament and early Christian texts. It was what people assumed as the norm, the worldview within which they lived and expressed their faith. Some of what she says will show how current teaching would have been unfamiliar to the first Christians, not just in application but in basic principles.

Temple Mysticism: An Introduction. SPCK, 2011. Paperback, 192 pages. According to Barker’s groundbreaking theory, temple mysticism underpins much of the Bible. Rooted in the cult of the first temple in ancient Jerusalem, it helps us to understand the origins of Christianity. Temple mysticism was received and taught as oral tradition, and many texts were changed or suppressed or kept from public access. Barker first examines the biblical texts: Isaiah and John. Then she proposes a more detailed picture, drawing on a wide variety of non-biblical texts. The hypothesis of temple mysticism provides new answers to important questions: who did Jesus think he was and what did he think he was doing? How did Christians understand their new faith and how did they express this in their worship?

The Mother of the Lord, Volume 1: The Lady in the Temple. T&T Clark, 2012. Paperback, 400 pages. Are there Old Testament roots to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Barker traces this devotion back to the Old Testament and the First Temple in Jerusalem. The evidence is consistent over more than a millennium: there had been a female deity in Jerusalem, the Mother of the Lord in the royal cult. She was expelled around 600 BCE, was almost written out of the Hebrew text, and virtually excluded from the canon — but not entirely. The second volume will show how the Mother became so important for the Christians who saw themselves as restoring the First Temple.

King of the Jews: Temple Theology in John’s Gospel. SPCK, 2014. Paperback, 648 pages. The book starts with background chapters on the Jews, Moses, the King in the Old Testament, and moves on to the King in the New Testament (apart from John) before reaching its main focus on the Gospel of John. ”Those at Qumran who worshipped as/with the angels in heaven cannot have been very different from those who wrote and read John’s gospel and the Book of Revelation. The latter were the Hebrew-Christian community who saw themselves as the heavenly throng . . . Their Lamb on the throne opened a sealed book — secret teaching — and they were originally people chosen from all the twelve tribes of Israel to receive the Name of the Lord on their foreheads (Rev.7.3-4). This vision was set in the early days of the first temple, before the kingdom divided, and it had become the hope for the future.” from the Introduction

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