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"Destroy this Temple and in Three Days I Will Raise it Up"

The Jerusalem Temple of Jesus’ time was not a single building like a Church, but a complex, set on a massive open space twice the size of the New Haven Green. This huge expanse had been built up, a kind of plateau in the midst of the city, through massive earthworks initiated by Herod the Great, the villain of the infancy stories and a real infrastructure expert - no one did infrastructure better than Herod - who had greatly expanded the Temple area from previous centuries. As Jesus’ opponents report in their encounter in the Gospel, this process had taken 46 years - and was to continue for some time after.

Close to the perimeter of the complex there were administrative and civic buildings, and a great open court area, where today’s scene is set, surrounded the actual shrine of the Temple proper, a structure more like the size of this Church perhaps or smaller. Sacrifices were offered on an altar outside it, and inside the shrine was a set of holy objects and materials - bread baked …

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