The really curious piece of Aslan’s imaginative reconstruction of the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem is the meaning he attributes to the action.

In a slightly unbelievable leap, following the incendiary action Jesus has performed in the Temple, Aslan portrays

Jesus and his disciples calmly exiting the Temple and walking out of the city, having just taken part in what the Roman authorities would have deemed a capital offense: sedition, punishable by crucifixion….

Aslan then explains his understanding of the obvious significance of this episode.

what is significant about this episode – what is impossible to ignore – is how blatant and inescapably zealous Jesus’s action at the Temple appear…. The Temple authorities also recognize Jesus’s zeal and hatch a clever plot to trap him into implicating himself as a zealot revolutionary. 75, 76

Questions abound:

1. With what justification does Aslan completely ignore the testimony of the Gospels?

Matthew, Mark and Luke all have Jesus himself explain the meaning of his actions saying,

“Is it not written, ‘My house call be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.'” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46)

If anything was revolutionary in Jesus’ action here, it was his willingness to remind the Temple officials that the faith their Temple existed to serve was in fact “for all the nations”, presumably even Rome.

2. If Jesus’ action in the Temple was so blatant and so revolutionary why was Jesus able to “calmly” exit the Temple and walk out of the city?

3. Even more mysterious, why was this fire-breathing zealous political revolutionary who was apparently intent on publicly displaying his intention to overthrow Rome and destroy the comfortable relationship Rome enjoyed with the Temple authorities able to frequently return to this very same Temple and peacefully resume his teaching ministry?

4. Why did arresting Jesus require a “clever plot to trap him into implicating himself as a zealot revolutionary”? He had, Aslan declares, already engaged in such a “monumental moment… whose radical implications would have been immediately recognized by all who witnessed it” and which so clearly explains “why a simple peasant from the low hills of Galilee was seen as such a threat to the  system that he was hunted down, arrested, tortured, and executed.” 73

Even before the Temple incident, by marching into Jerusalem to the praises of Passover pilgrims, Jesus has already “conveyed to the city’s inhabitants” a message that

is unmistakable: the long-awaited messiah – the true King of the Jews – has come to free Israel from its bondage. 74

So what is Rome waiting for? What is the hold up?

According to Aslan, Jesus has

just taken part in what the Roman authorities would have deemed a capital offense: sedition, punishable by crucifixion. 75

What could possibly prevent the imperial might of the great and ferocious Roman Empire, with the full support of the religious officials of the Jewish people, from crushing this simple illiterate peasant rabble-rouser from Galilee?

Aslan apparently feels no need to answer such nagging questions; he is he claims examining it “from a purely historical perspective,” and so there is no need to explain that

what is significant about this episode – what is impossible to ignore – is how blatant and inescapably zealous Jesus’s action in the Temple appear. 76

And, in Aslan’s truncated lexicon “zealous” means only one thing. It means political opposition to the Temple officials and the Roman rulers. “Zeal for your house” (John 2:17) certainly does not qualify.

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