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Archive Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth

Jewish A Capella

From John Arthur Smith’s Music in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity:

Ancient Jewish cultic music was valid only in connection with the cult, and the cult was valid only at the Temple in Jerusalem. When Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 CE, and the Temple destroyed, the cult ceased, and with it cultic music. Hope that the city and the Temple would be rebuilt and cultic worship restored nevertheless persisted, as is witnessed by the Mishnah (m. ‘Abot 5:20; m. Tamid 7:3, end), and persists still among the devout. It may have been this hope that inspired the compilers of the Mishnah to include in its tractates details of the measurements and most important rites of the Temple. (116)

This was, of course, the claim of many of the Reformers who were opposed to musical instruments in worship. It always struck me as a very odd argument, but it appears that there is actually a strong historical foundation for it.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.