The Hypertemple in Mind : Experiencing Temple Space in Ezekiel, The Temple Scroll and Mishnah Middot

Abstract: In this study I perform a theory driven close reading of selected sections of Ezekiel (chs. 40-48), the Temple Scroll (cols. 2/3-13:8, 29:3b-47:18) and Mishnah Middot, in order to explore how the architectonic descriptions of the temple in these works may have been used to create temple space in the minds of their immediate audiences. I combine Critical Space Theory and narrative as virtual reality to hypothesize the audiences’ immersion and interaction with temple space against the background of these three different engagement contexts. My thesis is that antique Jewish temple descriptions are verbal and imaginative constructions that take shape (or are “built”) in the minds of the immediate audiences through the act of engaging with the narratives within the fabric of religious tradition. I argue that these architectural descriptions simulated a temple space that could be experienced virtually, alike modern day computer simulations that temporarily disrupt the conditions of the physical reality. I outline a theory for combining the analytical model of “spatial trialectics (i.e. Firstspace, Secondspace, and Thirdspace)” with the interpretative lens of virtual reality, in order to reconstruct immersive and interactive features of the temple descriptions in their respective socio-historical contexts. Inquiring about ancient temple space from the viewpoint of contemporary technologies is a way for me to explore the tension between the physical reality and virtual reality and thus shed fresh insights on how the selected temple descriptions “play out” as experiences for their ancient audiences. The notion of immersive and interactive factors enabling the immediate audiences to experience temple space by engaging with architectonical temple descriptions, is my contribution to the understanding of how the symbolic system of the temple was enacted on a synchronic as well as a diachronic level in Jewish Antiquity.

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