The Gate of Heaven is a reprinted edition of Margaret Barker's seminal study on the inextricable link between the first Temple worship of ancient Israel and Judah and the worldview and scriptural writings of the first Christians. The themes of the First Temple(that is, the liturgy, sacrifices, economy, literature and belief structure centered upon Solomon's Temple, which was largely destroyed during the reign of Zedekiah in about 590 B.C.E.) is clearly shown as the dominant motif of the New Testament writers. It permeates and informs everything about early Christianity, from the most central of Christ's teachings to the writings and teachings of the surviving apostles.
This long-neglected connection has vast ramifications for the belief structures of most of Christendom. Ms. Barker's later works, including The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy, Temple Themes in Christian Worship and The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity explore this vast and long overlooked world. The results are stunning to a lifetime student of scripture, like the undersigned. Once the temple connections are illuminated, it is hard to find a page of scripture from either the Tanakh or the Greek New Testament which is not literally permeated with Temple themes.
A word of caution to the Christian reader who may have strong and deeply felt feelings about the perfection or immutibility of Holy Scripture--Barker's work presumes that there have been alterations, both intentional and unintentional, to the corpus of scripture over the past two and a half millenia, most notably following the Temple purges of Josiah in the seventh century B.C.E., when she argues the fundamental worship structure of Judah was irrevocably altered, and then again following the death of the early Apostles, when the Temple connections of Christ's teachings was suppressed and intentionally masked by clergymen who for many reasons wanted to distance themselves from the Temple.
This book, and indeed all of Margaret Barker's books, could not earn a higher recommendation from this reader. If the reader finds this work too difficult for introductory purposes, I recommend instead the highly accessible and beautifully written (and fairly short)Temple Theology.