What Is a Temple?
Those church fathers, especially of the fourth century, who proclaim the victory of Christianity over its rivals constantly speak of the church as the competitor and supplanter of the synagogue, and modern authorities are agreed that in ritual and liturgy the Christian church grew up “in the shadow of the Synagogue.”1 This is a most significant fact. While the temple stood the Jews had both its ancient ordinances and the practices of the synagogue, but they were not the same. The temple was unique, and when it was destroyed the synagogue of the Jews did not take over its peculiarly sacred functions—they were in no wise authorized to do so.2
The Loss of the Temple
Is it not strange that the Christian church should take its ritual and liturgy from the synagogue rather than the temple? The ready explanation for that was that the temple had been destroyed by God, the old law abolished, and a spiritual temple—a much higher and finer thing—had taken its place.3 But if God had abandoned the temple, he had no less abandoned the synagogue—why copy it? If a “spiritual” temple was so much superior to the crass physical thing, why did the Christians go out of their way to borrow equally physical Jewish and Gentile rites and practices of a much lower origin? Those same churchmen who expressed a fastidious disdain for the crude and outmoded rites of the temple at the same time diligently cultivated the rites of the synagogue (at best a second-class temple) with a generous and ever-increasing intermixture of popular pagan practices.4 Plainly the Christian world was not satisfied with the rhetorical abstractions of a purely spiritual successor to the Temple. But if the boast of the church was that it took up and continued where the old law left off, why did it not continue along the line of the Temple rather than of the synagogue?5
The answer is, as we shall see below, that the primitive church did just that, while the later church, by all accounts a totally different thing, tried to and failed, attempting for a time to establish its own substitutes for the temple. Jerome argues that if the Jews had the temple, the Christians have the holy sepulchre, and asks, “Doesn’t the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord appear more venerable to you?”6 This was no empty rhetoric. The Christians of the fourth century looked upon the holy sepulchre in dead earnest as the legitimate successor of the temple. The great bishops of the time protested loudly but in vain against the fixed idea that to be really saved a Christian had to visit Jerusalem and the holy sepulchre,7 and many modern studies have shown that the appointments and rites of the holy sepulchre represent a conscious attempt to continue the ways of the temple.8 Only later was the doctrine cultivated that any church might be considered as equivalent to the temple, and it never proved very convincing. Ambrose was the first Christian writer to call a church a temple, and the editors of the Patrologia, commenting on this, remind us that a church is definitely not a temple in the sense of Solomon’s Temple.9 Rome itself, after centuries of bitter rivalry, was unable to supplant Jerusalem as the supreme object of the pilgrim’s desire.10 Early Christian liturgies reveal a constant concern to reproduce physically something as near as possible to the temple rites of Jerusalem. The bulk of the liturgy is taken up with the Davidic Psalms, the old ritual texts of the temple; from the introit to the acclamation of the final psalm (Psalm 150), the imagery is that of the temple; the priests are regularly referred to as Levites, and the bishop (though his office and title derive from the synagogue and not the temple) is equated with Aaron the High Priest. Students of Christian ritual and liturgy agree today that no church possesses anything near to the original rites and ordinances of the primitive church; they point to the “gaping holes” in Christian ritual, and describe at length how through the centuries these have been filled with substitute material from Jewish, classical, and Germanic sources.11 It was not a satisfactory arrangement: the shadow of the Temple never ceased to disquiet the churchmen, who almost panic at the suggestion that the Jews might sometime rebuild their temple.12 For since the traditions of conventional Christianity are those of the synagogue, they could no more compete with a true temple than the synagogue itself could.
What Makes a Temple? The Cosmic Plan
Though the words synagogue, ecclesia, and temple are commonly employed by the doctors of the church to designate the religions of the Jews, Christians, and Pagans, respectively; still the authorities do not hesitate to apply the word temple both to the temple of the Jews and to their own churches.13 If there are unholy temples, there are also holy ones: what makes a temple different from other buildings is not its sacredness, but its form and function.
What is that form? We can summarize a hundred studies of recent date in the formula: a temple, good or bad, is a scale-model of the universe. The first mention of the word templum is by Varro, for whom it designates a building specially designed for interpreting signs in the heavens—a sort of observatory where one gets one’s bearings on the universe.14 The root tem– in Greek and Latin denotes a “cutting” or intersection of two lines at right angles, “the point where the cardo and decumanus cross,” hence where the four regions come together,15 every temple being carefully oriented to express “the idea of pre-established harmony between a celestial and a terrestrial image.”16 Eusebius expressed the idea clearly long ago when he said that the church was “a great Temple, which the divine Word . . . had established upon earth as the intellectual image of the celestial pattern, . . . the earthly exemplification of celestial regions in their revolutions, the supernal Jerusalem, the celestial Mt. Zion,” etc.17 Varro himself says that there are three temples, one in heaven, one on earth, and one beneath the earth.18 In the universal temple concept these three are identical, one being built exactly over the other, with the earth temple in the very middle of everything representing “the Pole of the heavens, around which all heavenly motions revolve, the knot that ties earth and heaven together, the seat of universal dominion.”19 Here the four horizontal regions meet and here the three worlds make contact. Whether in the Old World or the New, the idea of the three levels and four directions dominated the whole economy of the temples and of the societies which the temples formed and guided.20
The temple at Jerusalem, like God’s throne and the law itself, existed before the foundations of the world, according to the Talmud.21 Its middoth or measurements were all sacred and prescribed, with strict rules for orientation.22 Its nature as a cosmic center is vividly recalled in many medieval representations of the city of Jerusalem and the holy sepulchre, which are shown as the exact center and navel of the earth.23 It was in conscious imitation of both Jewish and Christian ideas that the Moslems conceived of their Kaaba as
not only the centre of the earth, it is the centre of the universe. . . . . Every heaven and every earth has its centre marked by a sanctuary as its navel. . . . At each of them the same ceremonies are carried out that are carried out at the Kaaba. So the sanctuary of Mecca is established as the religious centre of the universe and the cosmic significance of any ritual act performed there is clearly demonstrated.24
What is bound on earth is bound in heaven.
From the temple at Jerusalem went forth the ideas and traditions which are found all over the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem worlds. Thus the earliest Christian rites and buildings show a marked concern for orientation, commenting on which Voelkl observes:
It is usual for people to locate themselves with reference to some immovable point in the universe. . . . The dogmatic tendency of the first centuries which created the “holy line” pointing East . . . reached its final form in the mystical depths of Scholasticism.25
What began as tangible reality petered out in the abstractions of the schoolmen, but the source of the idea is unmistakably the temple.
The Place of Contact
As the ritual center of the universe, the temple was anciently viewed as the one point on earth at which men could establish contact with other worlds. This aspect of the temple idea has been the object of intense research in the past decade. It is now generally recognized that the earliest temples were not, as formerly supposed, dwelling places of divinity, but rather meeting places at which men at specific times attempted to make contact with the powers above. “Though in time it became the dwelling of the divinity,” according to Contenau, “originally it may have had the aspect of a temple of passage, a place of arrival.”26 The temple was a building
which the gods transversed to pass from their celestial habitation to their earthly residence. . . . The ziggurat is thus nothing but a support for the edifice on top of it, and the stairway that leads from the same between the upper and lower worlds.27
In this respect it resembled a mountain, for “the mountain itself was originally such a place of contact between this and the upper world.” 28 A long list might be made of holy mountains on which God was believed to have talked with men in ancient times, including “the mountain of the Lord’s house.”29 A great many studies have appeared in the 1950s describing the basic idea of the temple as a sort of antechamber between the worlds, and particular attention has been given to the fact that in both Egypt and Mesopotamia temples had regular wharves for the landing of celestial barks. 30
An investigation of the oldest temples, those represented on prehistoric seals, concludes that those high structures were also “gigantic altars,” built both to attract the attention of the powers above (the burnt offering being a sort of smoke signal, as it were) and to provide “the stairways which the god, in answer to these prayers, used in order to descend to the earth. . . . He comes bringing a renewal of life in all its forms.” 31 From the first, it would seem, men built altars in the hopes of establishing contact with heaven, and built high towers for the same purpose (see Genesis 11:4).
As the pivot and pole of the universe, the temple is also peculiarly tied to the North Star, around which all things revolve.32 At the same time, it is the place of meeting with the lower as well as the upper world, and the one point at which passage between the two is possible.33 That is why in the earliest Christian records the gates and the keys are so closely connected with the Temple. Scholars have often noted that the keys of Peter (Matthew 16:19) can only be the keys of the temple with its work for the dead.34 Many studies have demonstrated the identity of tomb, temple, and palace as the place where the powers of the other world are exercised for the benefit of the human race.35 In the fourth century there was a massive and permanent transfer of the pilgrim’s goal from temples to tombs, though the two had always been connected.36 Invariably the rites of the Temple are those of the ancestors, and appropriately the chief character in those rites is the first ancestor and father of the race.37
Naturally the temple at Jerusalem has been studied along with the rest, and it has been found that its rites fit easily and naturally into the general pattern.38 Professor Albright, while noting that Solomon’s Temple was not of pagan origin, describes it as a point of contact with the other world, presenting “a rich cosmic symbolism which was largely lost in later Israelite and Jewish tradition.”39 That is, the farther back we go in time, the more uniform is the concept of the temple among the ancients as a whole, with everything pointing to a single tradition. Albright duly comments on the twelve oxen as the cosmic symbol of the circle of the year and the three stages of the great altar as representing the three worlds.40
The Ritual Drama
The rites of the temple are always a repetition of those that marked its founding in the beginning of the world, telling how it all came to be in the first place. The foundation of the sanctuary coincides with the foundation or creation of the earth itself: “The first fixed point in the chaotic waters . . . is the place of the sanctuary, which becomes the earthly seat of the world-order, having its palladium in throne and altar. The foundation of the sanctuary, therefore, coincides with the creation.”41 After a lifetime of study Lord Raglan assures us that when we study all the rituals of the world we come up with the discovery that the pristine and original ritual of them all, from which all others take their rise, was the dramatization of the creation of the world.42 And Mowinckel sums up the common cult pattern of all the earliest civilizations: “It is the creation of the World that is being repeated.”43
This creation drama was not a simple one for, as the above authorities remind us, an indispensable part of the story is the ritual death and resurrection of the King, who represents the founder and first parent of the race, and his ultimate triumph over death as priest and king, followed by some form of hieros gamos or ritual marriage for the purpose of begetting the race. 44 All this has become stock-intrade of students of comparative religion today, but at the beginning of the century nobody knew anything about it. We find this now familiar “Year-Drama” with its familiar episodes wherever we turn—in the Memphite Theology of Egypt (recently held to have had great influence on the Hebrew religion), in the well-documented Babylonian New Year’s rites, in the great secular celebration of the Romans, in the ritual beginnings of Greek drama, in the temple-texts of Ras Shamra, in the Celtic mythological cycles, or in the medieval mystery plays.45 And if we ask why this drama is performed, we always get the same answer, according to Mowinckel: “Because the Divinity—the First Father of the Race—did so once in the beginning, and commanded us to do the same.”46
The temple drama is essentially a problem-play, with a combat as its central theme. The combat at the New Year takes various mimetic forms throughout the world—games, races, sham-battles, mummings, dances, plays, etc.—but the essential part is that the hero is temporarily beaten and overcome by death: “The King . . . is even trampled upon by the powers of chaos, but he rises again and puts the false king, the false Messiah, to death.”47 This resurrection motif is absolutely essential to the rites, the purpose of which is ultimate victory over death.
But the individual who toiled as a pilgrim in a weary land to reach the waters of life that flowed from the temple was no mere passive spectator. He came to share in all the blessings of knowledge and regeneration. It was not just the symbolic immortality of a society that was sought, but the personal attainment of eternal life and glory by the individual.48 This the individual attempted to achieve through a process of initiation. “Initiation,” writes Professor Rostovzeff, “is notoriously a symbol of death, . . . the symbolic act of death and rebirth, resurrection.”49 The essence of the great rites that marked the New Year (in Israel as elsewhere the one time when all were expected to come to the temple) was “transition, rite de passage, succession of lives, following the revolutions of Nature”—though it should be noted that the revolutions of nature definitely did not furnish the original pattern for the thing.50 The actual initiation rites have been studied often and in detail, and found to exhibit a very clear and consistent pattern. We can give but one illustration here, taken from a short but remarkable writing by Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem, a particularly valuable witness, since he is the last church father to be in close contact with the old Jerusalem rites.
The general impression one gets from reading the long discussions in the Talmud is that people in the temple at Jerusalem spent most of their time at baptisms and ablutions. Certainly baptism is one specific ordinance always mentioned in connection with the temple. “When one is baptised one becomes a Christian,” writes Cyril, “exactly as in Egypt by the same rite one becomes an Osiris.” Not only does Cyril recognize the undeniable resemblance between the Christian and non-Christian rites, but he also notes that they have the identical significance, which is initiation into immortality. 51 The baptism in question, Cyril explains, is rather a washing than a baptism, since it is not by immersion. It is followed by an anointing, which our guide calls “the antitype of the anointing of Christ himself,” making every candidate as it were a Messiah.52 Elsewhere he describes this rite specifically as the anointing of the brow, face, ears, nose, breast, etc., “which represents,” he says, “the clothing of the candidate in the protective panoply of the Holy Spirit,” which however does not hinder the initiate from receiving a real garment on the occasion.53 Furthermore, the candidate was reminded that the whole ordinance “is in imitation of the sufferings of Christ,” in which “we suffer without pain by mere imitation his receiving of the nails in his hands and feet: the antitype of Christ’s sufferings.”54 Bishop Cyril further insists that Moses and Solomon had both been duly baptized in this manner: “After being washed in water, he [Moses] was anointed and called a Christ, because of the anointing which was a type. When Solomon came forth to be king, the High Priest anointed him, after a bath in Gihon. This again was a type. But with us these things are not a type but a reality.”55 From his last remark it is plain that the early Christians actually performed the rites described. The Jews once taught that when Michael and Gabriel lead all the sinners up out of the lower world, “they will wash and anoint them, healing them of their wounds of hell, and clothe them with beautiful pure garments and bring them into the presence of God.”56 These things are often referred to in the earliest Christian writings, but were soon lost in a manner we must now describe.
Loss and Diffusion of the Temple Ordinances
No one can consider the temples and their ancient rites (at which we have merely hinted in these pages) without asking how they came to be both so widespread and so corrupt in the world. Let us first consider the question of corruption.
1. It can be shown that both the Jews and Christians suffered greatly at the hands of their enemies because of the secrecy of their rites, which they steadfastly refused to discuss or divulge.57 When the key to the ordinances was lost, this very secrecy made for a great deal of misunderstanding and above all opened the door to unbridled fraud: every Gnostic sect, for example, claimed to have the lost rites and ordinances, the keys and the teachings, as they had been given to the apostles and patriarchs of old.58
2. It is doubtful if a religious organization ever existed which did not have its splits and factions. A common cause of schism, among both Jews and Christians, was the claim of a particular group that it alone still possessed the mysteries.59 Hence from early times many competing versions of the true rites and ordinances have been current.
3. Even in good times, the rites like the doctrines inevitably become the object of various conflicting schools of interpretation and become darkened and obscured as a result. Indeed, it is now generally held that mythology is simply an attempt to explain the origin and meaning of rituals that men no longer understand.60 The clouding and corruption of ritual is apparent in the oldest texts known,61 and painfully so in Jewish and Christian literature. The Talmud tells of a pious Jew who left Jerusalem in disgust, saying, “What answer will the Israelites give to Elijah when he comes,” and asks why the scholars don’t agree on the rites of the temple.62 For in Jewish and Christian tradition alike, it is Elijah who is to come and restore the rites of the temple in their purity.
4. The early fathers had a ready explanation for any suspicious resemblances between Christian and non-Christian practices. The former, they explained, had come down from the ancient Hebrews and were thus really much older than their pagan counterparts, which had been borrowed or stolen from them. Actually there is a great deal of evidence for the widespread usurpation of the temple rites at a very early time. One would hardly expect people to view their own highest rites as stolen and their highest god as a usurper, yet wherever we look that is what we find. Every major mythology tells of the great usurper who rules the world and who upon examination turns out to be the father and founder of the race!63
Since we cannot here treat them individually, we must be content to note that the archetype of all usurpers is Nimrod, who claims kingship and priesthood by right of “the cosmic garment of Adam,” which his father Ham stole from Noah.64 When in turn Esau, that other great hunter, by a ruse got this garment from Nimrod, he sold it as a “birthright” to Jacob, and then tried to get it back again “and force his way into the temple,” according to the Leptogenesis.65 Early Jewish and Christian traditions report that Nimrod it was who built the Tower of Babel, the first pagan temple, in an attempt to contact heaven; it was he who challenged the priesthood of Abraham; it was he who built the first city, founded the first state, organized the first army, ruling the world by force; he challenged God to an archery contest and, when he thought he had won, claimed to be no less than God’s successor. 66 The interesting thing is that all his activities center around the temple, whose rites and whose priesthood he boldly attempts to seize for himself.
5. The same comparative studies that discovered the common pattern in all ancient religions—a phenomenon now designated as “patternism”—have also demonstrated the processes of diffusion by which that pattern was spread throughout the world—and in the process torn to shreds, of which recognizable remnants may be found in almost any land and time. It would now appear that the early fathers were not far from the mark in explaining the resemblances: the rites do look alike wherever we find them, however modern Christians may insist on denying the fact, for they all come from a common source.67 The business of reconstructing the original prototype from the scattered fragments has been a long and laborious one, and it is as yet far from completed. Yet an unmistakable pattern emerges more clearly every day. This raises the question of priority: How did the Mormons get hold of the temple idea?
The Question of Priority
Let the reader study some photographs of the Salt Lake Temple, a structure whose design the Mormons believe to have been revealed to the Prophet Brigham Young. Consider how perfectly this edifice inside and out embodies the temple idea. The emphasis on the three levels is apparent at once; the orientation is basic—every pioneer community, in fact, was located and oriented with reference to the temple as the center of Zion; the crenelated walls and buttresses are familiar from the oldest monumental temples as “the pillars of heaven”; the series of stars, moon, and sunstones on the buttresses indicate the levels of celestial glory; at the lowest point in the temple is a brazen sea on the back of twelve oxen, and there are the waters through which the dead, by proxy, pass to eternal life, the gates of salvation; on the center of the west towers is the North Star and its attendant constellation, a symbol recognized throughout human history as depicting the center of time and the revolution of the universe; the battlements that impart a somewhat grim air to the building signify its isolation from a hostile world; on the main tower the inscription in gold “Holiness to the Lord” serves notice that this place is set apart from the world of mundane things, as do the gates that shut out all but a few; yet the temple itself is a reminder that none can receive the highest blessings without entering its portals—so that the whole human race shall eventually repair hither, either in the flesh or by proxy. Within the building, as many visitors have seen before its dedication, are rooms obviously appointed for rites rehearsing the creation of the world, the fall of man, and his final exaltation.68
But it is the actual work done within the temple that most perfectly exemplifies the temple idea. For here all time and space come together; the barriers vanish between this world and the next; between past, present, and future. What is bound here is bound beyond, and only here can the gates be opened to release the dead who are awaiting the saving ordinances. Here the whole human family meets in a common enterprise; here the records of the race are assembled as far back in time as they go, for a work performed by the present generation to assure that they and their kindred dead shall spend the eternities together in the future. All time becomes one and the worlds join hands in this work of love, which is no mere mechanical bookkeeping. The work of the temple is exciting, and through the years has been rewarded and stimulated by many marvelous blessings and manifestations. In a very real sense all humanity participates in the same work of salvation—for we cannot be saved without our fathers, nor they without us. It is a grandiose concept. Here for the first time in many centuries men may behold a genuine temple, functioning as a temple should—a temple in the fullest and purest sense of the word.
Are we to believe that this uniquely perfect institution was copied from any of the thousand-and-one battered remnants of the temple and its ordinances that have survived in the world? The fundamental nature and far-reaching implications of the temple idea are just beginning to dawn upon scholars in our own day; nothing was known about them a hundred years ago—indeed, it was not until the end of the nineteenth century that Christian churches, in competitive zeal to return to the ways of the primitive church began to orient their buildings. 69 Throughout this brief study we have indicated that surviving remnants of the temple concept and rites may be found wherever there is religion and cult in the world. It is not surprising, therefore, that merely by looking about him one may discover all sorts of parallels to Mormon—or any other!—practices. Thousands of American Indians and Pacific islanders, including many of the greatest chiefs and wise men, have become Mormons in their time and engaged in the work of the temple. They have been quick to detect the often surprising parallels between the rites of the temple and the traditions and practices of their own tribes—though those have been guarded with the greatest secrecy. Far from being disaffected by this discovery, these devoted workers have rejoiced that at last they could understand the real meaning of what they had inherited from their fathers, corroded as it was by time and overlaid with thick deposits of legend and folklore. Among the first to engage in the Latter-day temple work were many members of the Masons, a society that “is not, and does not profess to be, a religion,”70 but whose rites present unmistakable parallels to those of the temple. Yet, like the Indians, those men experienced only an expansion of understanding.71
So universally is religious ritual today burdened with the defects of oddness, incongruity, quaintness, jumbled complexity, mere traditionalism, obvious faking and filling in, and contrived and artificial explanations, including myths and allegories, frankly sensual appeal, and general haziness and confusion, that those regrettable traits have come to be regarded as the very essence of ritual itself. In contrast we find the Latter-day Saint rites, though full, elaborate, and detailed, to be always perfectly lucid and meaningful, forming an organic whole that contains nothing incongruous, redundant, or mystifying, nothing purely ornamental, arbitrary, abstruse, or merely picturesque. No moral, allegorical, or abstruse symbolism has been read into these rites; no scholars and poets have worked them over; no learned divines have taken the liberty to interpret them; they have never been the subject of speculation and theory; they show no signs of invention, evolution, or elaboration. Josiah Quincy said that the Nauvoo Temple “certainly cannot be compared with any ecclesiastical building which may be discerned by the natural sight,” 72 and architects have said much the same about the Salt Lake Temple. That is high, if unconscious, tribute, advertising the clear fact that in establishing their temples the Mormons did not adopt traditional forms: with them the temple and its rites are absolutely pristine. In contrast the church and temple architecture of the world is an exotic jumble, a bewildering complex of borrowed motifs, a persistent effort to work back through the centuries to some golden time and place when men still had the light.
In the fourth decade of the nineteenth century the idea of the temple suddenly emerged full-blown in its perfection, not as a theory alone, but as a program of intense and absorbing activity which rewarded the faithful by showing them the full scope and meaning of the plan of salvation.
The preceding part of this article was written twenty-five years ago when the London Temple was dedicated. Since then the “scientific” study of ancient temples has completed a full circle—back to where it started some three hundred years ago. We hasten to explain.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was the habit of English country gentlemen, fired with the scientific interests of the former century and the romantic sensibilities of the latter, to survey, sketch, describe, and speculate about the many and mysterious prehistoric stone circles, avenues, passage-graves, and mounds on their estates and elsewhere. In their papers read before local learned societies and in their letters to antiquarian journals, they debated endlessly without reaching any consensus of agreement as to whether those often imposing monuments were the work of some mysterious unknown race or that of the ancient Britons, Druids, Romans, Saxons, or Danes. But on one thing there was almost unanimous agreement, namely, that the most impressive of the structures were temples. In the light of local folktales and legends, immemorial rustic seasonal festivities, and other quaint customs and observances, supported by occasional illuminating passages from classical and medieval writers as well as the Bible, they could imagine vast concourses of people gathering at these great ceremonial centers at times set by sun, moon, stars, and the growing and harvesting seasons, to celebrate a new lease on life for the individual and the society.
I have called those studies “scientific” because they were undertaken in the same spirit, employed much the same methods, and reached the same conclusions as those of the present generation of researchers, who insist that they are scientific. Here, for example, is a recent cover story from the (very) Scientific American (July 1980), in which the author expresses the same conviction as did Sir William Stukeley and John Aubrey in the mid-seventeenth century.73 He finds “a succession of what we can only call cathedral architects” at work in the third and fourth millenniums B.C. “Most emphatically,” he writes, these “megalithic rings in general [were] sacred and secular meeting places,” and he sees” an impelling faith” behind the immense effort and skill that produced them—”some powerful religious belief including belief in an afterlife.” He notes that though the building activity stopped by 1000 B.C., “the general population” retained folk-memories of what went on, and he finds it “more than possible that the Druidic priesthood . . . used them as temples.” Finally he notes that even Christian churches in some places did not disdain to build upon their ruins.
After the eighteenth century less and less attention was paid to the megalithic complexes, upon which little remained to be said until new lines of research could be opened up. The first forward step was taken by philology, predictably enough, since the learning of the times was classical and biblical. The British presence in India set such researches in a new and fruitful direction by creating a general interest in the glamour and color of the mysterious East, and by calling the attention of scholars to strange texts in strange languages. By the middle of the nineteenth century comparative philology had become the queen of studies, thanks to the great Max Mueller, who believed that he had discovered in Sanskrit the parent and original of all the Aryan family of languages from India to Ireland, and in the Vedas “the primal form of their mythology and religion.” For the ancient texts on which all such study was necessarily based were profoundly religious documents, combining myth, ritual, pious exercises, edifying doctrine, and bits of history.
Shortly before Mueller, Jacob Grimm, in gathering material for his great Deutsche Grammatik74, introduced the comparative study of folktales, folk songs, myths, customs, arts, and artifacts (Grimm’s Fairy Tales have proven to be as scientifically relevant as Grimm’s Law). In the process he anticipated the conclusion of Max Mueller, that if everybody from Ireland to India spoke related languages it was because originally they were all one and the same family, living in the East. Mueller held that what survived of their religion represents a letdown and deterioration from a higher order of things, an archaic original of monotheistic persuasion, from which historic religions betray a moral and intellectual decline. This is a position being taken by some eminent scholars today. Mueller’s Oxford colleagues E. Tylor and Andrew Lang felt that the master was too much under the literary influences of an earlier day (e.g., Herder), and, discounting the old romantic idea of a primal “nature mythology,” gave second billing to myth, viewing it as an attempt to explain cult and custom, which really had priority. After the mid-nineteenth century, evolution of course became the answer; religion, like everything else, must necessarily have had a primitive beginning—for Lang it was in primitive magic. For Theodor Waitz it was a primitive obsession with ghosts and spirits. Herbert Spencer made it a fixed principle, universally received, that religion is superstition and superstition is primitive, and that evolution required a steady ascent from religion toward the pure light of ever more rational thinking, culminating in the modern civilized man.
At the turn of the century the watchwords were animism and totemism, which for many years explained everything for many students. The determination to reduce religion, like everything else, to scientific laws actually led to simplistic solutions, and with the desire for more thorough and methodical special studies the wide-ranging pronouncements of deep-browed armchair scientists were supplanted by a swelling outpouring of regional monographs and statistical studies aspiring to the status of exact science. The great biologist J. Arthur Thompson made sport of the excesses of the solemn “brass instrument school,” laboriously compiling endless columns of figures giving the physical and mental measurements of tribes and races, which in the end could tell the student no more than a casual association with the natives in question would have provided. Given patience and a body, it was no great task for a thousand investigators to fill the books and journals with information, but beyond the most pedestrian generalities no real progress was made. As Theodor Gaster observes, “It was Frazer more than anyone else who first sought to classify and coordinate this vast body of material.”75 Today most of Frazer’s main assumptions and conclusions have been discredited—for example, the “magical” origins of religion, which Gaster calls “a mere product of late nineteenth-century evolutionism”; the principle of “homeopathy,” by which the magical action produced a real counterpart; the yearly celebrations of the death and rebirth of vegetation, which neglected the more immediate human experience of life and death; the obsession of an earlier time with solar religion; and above all the idea of a “primitive” level of culture which remains undefined but is the same everywhere and always, the word being worked to death by Frazer’s colleagues (e.g., J. Harrison), many of whom never laid eyes on a primitive. Yet most of these discredited ideas are still accepted and taught in schools everywhere.
To explain the remarkable resemblances between the prehistoric ritual centers and their rites separated by thousands of miles and as many years, Frazer and others took for granted that at a certain stage of evolution the human mind spontaneously fell into the thought patterns that would produce identical myths and rules independently in various parts of the world. Diffusionism was rejected and still is by many. This interesting psychological explanation got some support from the famous psychologist C. G. Jung, a diligent student of ancient myth and religion. Just as in the process of evolution creatures retain vestigial organs from earlier times, so the mind, Jung insisted, being subject to evolution like everything else, retains in its unconscious what he calls “archetypes” or “primordial images.” They are as natural “as the impulse of birds to build nests, and present the mind with whole mythological motifs,” which lead to stories and dramatizations. Where do they come from? “They are without known origin,” writes Jung, “and they reproduce themselves in any time or in any part of the world”—don’t ask how. Thus “the hero figure is an archetype which has existed since time immemorial,” though as to “when and where such a motif originated . . . we do not even know how to go about investigating the problem.” So the cause of evolutionism is saved if we do not ask too many questions.
C. P. Thiele, a Dutch theologian, came closer than anyone else since Max Mueller to combining vast scope and detail of information with meaningful summaries, striking a balance between the old romantic school of Herder, Mueller, and Andrew Lang, and the pedantically limited studies of single tribes, families, and problems, which became as numerous as they were trivial. Few have equaled Thiele’s learning, but how to take account of all that data in a convincing summary with meaningful conclusions is a problem of more urgency now than ever. A promising new development, the TV documentary, seeks to address the public on a high and authoritative level while keeping everything simple and clear, covering an immense expanse of knowledge while giving an understandable presentation of general principles.
The present writer struggled with the problem prematurely, of course, growing up on Spencer’s First Principles, H. G. Wells, and T. H. Buckle, and practically memorizing Spengler. The first half of the twentieth century produced pretentious works purporting to convey all knowledge, such as the University of Chicago Synopticon, big “Western Civilization” college texts, the Cambridge histories, various encyclopedias, the Columbia University Chapters in Western Civilization, and so forth. More impressive were the big corroborative works combining contributions of leading scholars in different areas. Such a one was Chantepie de la Saussaye’s Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte, which the present writer acquired hot off the press and perused with dogged diligence—to no avail! The facts were there, but they added up to nothing. The compilers followed the Baconian gospel, that one has simply to collect the facts and let them speak for themselves. However one may accuse the over-eager and ill-prepared of leaping to conclusions, it is precisely that leap that the scholars have never been able or willing to make; for when they finish collecting and typing their notes, they see nowhere to go—but more notes. Will Durant was a full-time philosopher who gathered nine volumes on the history of Western civilization. And what did the philosopher learn from that? Nothing at all that we had not already heard.
A good example of this is Joseph Campbell, one of the latest and best popularizers, who assures us that he is bringing together for the first time “a single picture of the new perspectives . . . in comparative symbolism, religion, mythology, and philosophy, by the scholarship of recent years.” 76 This is merely an updating of the old game, reaching exactly the same conclusions as Grimm, Max Mueller, and the rural clergymen who studied the old stones of the English countryside, that “the comparative study of the mythologies of the world compels us to view the cultural history of mankind as a unit,” in which the various motifs, instead of being wildly exotic, endlessly varied, and without number, as one would expect (and as German scholars once described them), are really “only a few and always the same.” The old biblical picture now emerges as the latest scientific discovery.
The boldest and clearest recent statement embracing the world landscape of culture and religion is in the works of M. Eliade, and he brings it all back to the temple. “The Temple, . . . preeminently the sacred place, . . . a celestial prototype” and holy mountain, typifies “the act of Creation . . . [which] brought the ordered cosmos out of chaos”; it is the scene of the sacred marriage, the ritual confrontation with evil appearing as the dragon, serpent, or other figures of death and destruction, ending in the victory of the king, whose triumphant coronation inaugurates the New Year and a new age of the world. The combat is an expression of that “ambivalence and polarity” which characterize the rites in which all things must have their opposite, and where an atoning sacrifice is necessary “to restore the primal unity” between God and man, and enable the latter to regain the divine presence. The whole, according to Eliade, is suffused with “memories of paradise,” the loss of which is the result of sin, converting this world into a testing ground in which “suffering always has meaning.”77
Thus Eliade shows us how the studies of two centuries have steadily converged on the temple. But before Eliade, your humble informant was bringing out much of the picture in a doctoral thesis which disturbed and puzzled his committee in the 1930’s. In 1940 a section of the Pacific Coast Meeting of the American Historical Association slept through a discourse on the feasting of the multitudes at the holy places, and in the following year a like gathering of the American Archaeological Association in San Diego listened with remarkable composure to a paper on “National Assemblies in the Bronze Age.” This is to show for the record that we were getting in on the ground floor. An article comparing the earliest Roman rites to those all over the ancient world was held up by World War II (which was then considered more urgent), not appearing until 1945 (in the Classical Journal).78 At that time I had been to the temple only twice, once when I was seventeen and again when I was twenty—both times in something of a daze. So it was not until I moved to Utah and started going to the temple and wrote a mini-series in the Improvement Era on “Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times” (1948)79 that it ever occurred to me that any of what I had been doing had anything to do with Joseph Smith. Beginning to see the light, I started pulling out the stops in a Pi Sigma Alpha lecture given during the centennial celebration of the University of Utah in 1950. Entitled “The Hierocentric State,” it was expanded and published the following year in the Western Political Quarterly.80
The dedication of the London Temple in 1958 produced, on request, the first part of this effusion. This was followed in 1958—60 by a study in the Jewish Quarterly Review on “Christian Envy of the Temple,”81 demonstrating that “where there is no Temple there is no true Israel,” and showing how the Christian churches have always missed the temple while retaining various survivals of it in their rites and liturgies. In 1966 we discussed those migratory temples, wheeled and domed structures, that moved over the steppes of Asia, and how they took their bearings on the universe, remaining holy centers in spite of their mobility—like the Ark of the Covenant (Western Political Quarterly, 1966).82 An article on “Jerusalem in Christian Thought” in the first edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica (1973)83 dealt with the role in history of the well-known idea of Jerusalem as the holy center of the world, thanks to the presence of the temple, and sketched the fierce competitive drives of Christians, Moslems, and Jews to possess it. In the same year, in a study ambitiously titled “The Genesis of the Written Word,” we pointed out that the oldest written documents of the race are temple records. 84 The rich Egyptian documentation justified writing about The Egyptian Endowment (1975), and comparing it in an appendix with some of the ordinances and doctrines contained in the Manual of Disciplines (1QS) from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Odes of Solomon, the Pearl, the Pistis Sophia, and Cyril of Jerusalem’s Lectures on the Ordinances (mid-fourth century).85 An important performance which has very ancient parallels throughout Asia as well as the Near East was “The Early Christian Prayer Circle” (BYU Studies, (1978).86 A long series of articles in the Improvement Era (1968—70) called attention to sacrificial aspects of the later temple ordinances as anticipated in the “arrested” sacrifice of Abraham himself, of Sarah (in Egypt), and of Isaac.87 Finally, the book Abraham in Egypt (1981) describes ties between Egyptian and Israelite wisdom and doctrine, a subject being much studied by scholars at the present time.88
To resume our story, imaginary reconstructions presented over the past three hundred years of great gatherings of people at imposing ceremonial complexes for rites dedicated to the renewal of life on earth are, over that long stretch of time, surprisingly uniform. In spite of the accumulation of evidence, there has never been a drastic reversal or revision of the picture, which always remains the same.
First, we still have the tangible evidence, the scenery and properties of the drama: megaliths; artifical giant mounds or pyramids amounting to artificial mountains; stone and ditch alignments of mathematical sophistication, correlating time and space; passage graves and great tholoi or domed tombs; sacred roads (often discovered from the air); remains of booths, grandstands, processional ways, and gates—these still survive in awesome combination, with all their cosmic symbolism.
In the second place is the less tangible evidence of customs, traditions, legends, folk festivals, ancient writings, and so forth, which when put together conjure up (with considerable authority, thanks to their abundance and consistency) memories of dramatic and choral celebrations of the Creation; ritual contests between life and death, good and evil, and light and darkness, followed by the triumphant coronation of the king to rule for the new age, the progenitor of the race by a sacred marriage; feasts of abundance attended by ancestors and spirits; covenants; initiations (including baptism and clothing); sacrifices and scapegoats to rid the people of a year of guilt and pollution; and various types of divination and oracular consultation for the new life cycle. And what is being emphasized today, after centuries of converging studies, is that they were all doing it, everywhere!
To these types of evidence must be added the most impressive—and neglected—of all, those “spin-offs” of the temple which have long attracted my interest as such. The “spin-offs” are things not essential to the temple’s form and function, but the inevitable products of its existence. To begin with, there was an urgent need of accommodations for all those pilgrims from far away; hence those booths, memorialized in the Hebrew Festival of Booths, remains or records of which we find in many parts of the world. Our words hotel and hospital go back to those charitable organizations which took care of sick and weary pilgrims to the holy places—the Hospitalers of the Crusades offered hospitality also under the name of Templars, for it was travelers to the temple that they were aiding and protecting. Since all who came had to bring food for the festival as well as animals for offerings and sacrifice, those who lived a great distance (more than three days away in Israel; see Deuteronomy 14:22—27; 26:12—14), finding the transport of such items of great difficulty, could instead bring the money value of those offerings to the Temple, which thus became a place of exchange and banking—our word money comes from the temple of Juno Moneta, the holy center of the Roman world. Along with that, the bringing of a variety of different goods and products from widely separated places inevitably gave rise to a lively barter and exchange of goods, and everywhere a fixture of the great year rites was the yearly fair, the market-booths of the merchants added to those of the visiting pilgrims, with artisans, performers, and mountebanks also displaying their wares.
The main action at the temple was the actio, for which the Greek word is drama, with parts played by priestly temple actors and royalty. Creation was celebrated with the Creation Hymn or poema—the word poem means, in fact, Creation—sung by a chorus which, as the name shows, formed a circle and danced as they sang. Since nothing goes unchallenged in this world, a central theme of the temple rites was the dramatization (often athletic) of the combat between the powers of life and death which could take many forms—wrestling, boxing, dueling, foot or chariot races, beauty contests to choose a queen, competitions in song and dance. The temple was the original center of learning, beginning with the heavenly instructions received there. It was the Museon or home of the Muses, each representing a branch of study, and the scene of learned discussions among the wise men who from the earliest recorded times would travel from shrine to shrine exchanging wisdom with the wise, as Abraham did in Egypt. For the all-important setting of times and seasons, careful astronomical observations were taken and recorded at the place with mathematical precision, while the measurements of fields and buildings called for sophisticated geometry followed by great architectural and engineering skill that commands the highest respect to this day. The Garden-of-Eden or Golden-Age motif was essential to this ritual paradise, and the temple grounds contained all manner of trees and animals, often collected with great botanical and zoological zeal from distant places. Central to the temple school for the training of priests and nobles was the great library containing both the holy books revealed from on high, whether as divine revelation or as star readings (both declared the glory of God), and the records of human history including the “Books of Life,” the names of all the living and the dead—genealogy. Aside from memorials kept in writing (the art, as we have seen, originating in the economy of the temple) were the ancestral pictures—statues, busts, and paintings giving inspiration to the fine arts. The purpose of the rites being to establish and acknowledge the rule of God on earth through his agent and offspring the King, who represented both the first man and everyman, the temple was the ultimate seat and sanction of government. Our government buildings with their massive columns, domes, marble and bronze, and so forth are copies of classic Greek and Roman temples. The meeting of the people at the holy place made the New Year the time for contracts and covenants, and all of these were recorded and stored in the temple, which was of course the seat of law, both for the handing down of new laws and ordinances by divine authority and for the settling of disputes between mortals. The king was a Solomon sitting as Judge on the occasion, as one who had been tested to the limit and, after calling upon God from the depths, had emerged triumphant, worthy to lead the army of the Lord to spread his rule over the as yet unconquered realms of darkness beyond the holy influence of the temple.
All of these matters and much, much more this writer has treated somewhere or other. The fact that the one thing they all have in common is the temple is enough in itself to indicate that the temple is the source, and not one of the derivatives, of the civilizing process. If, as noted above, “where there is no temple there is no true Israel,” it is equally true that where there is no true temple, civilization itself is but an empty shell—a material structure of expediency and tradition alone, bereft of the living organism at its center that once gave it life and brought it forth.
Since the Temple is the parent and original, it is only to be expected that one should find ruins and fragments of it surviving everywhere, along with more or less ambitious attempts to recapture its lost glory and authority. And since Evil cannot create or beget but can only pervert, corrupt, wrest, and destroy what Good has accomplished, it is not surprising that the most depraved of practices take their rise in the Temple. Let us recall that the mysterious “Watchers” in Enoch’s day carefully kept the ordinances that had come down from Adam, and claimed sanctity by reason of possessing a knowledge which they had completely subverted. How roundly Isaiah rebukes and denounces the ordinances of the temple—the new moons, the fasts, the prayers, the offerings, and so on, when performed by the Jews in the wrong spirit! While the temple still stood in Jerusalem, the brethren of Qumran looked forward for the coming of “a true Temple” after God’s own heart. When Satan assayed to try the Lord, it was to the pinnacle of the temple that he took him; did the Evil One, then, have access to the holy place? For answer we need only recall that Jesus declared that the House of his Father had been turned into a den of thieves as he drove the money changers from its courts—a reminder that large financial institutions today, as well as government buildings, occupy structures faithfully copied from the classical fanes of ancient temples and add to the bronze and marble the sanctimonious hush of holy places. Thus the temple economy has been perverted along with the rest.
When the symbolic killing and eating of beasts were supplanted by lustful and vengeful rites of human sacrifice; when the feasts of joy and abundance became orgies, and the sacred rites of marriage were perverted to the arts of the temple hierodules; when the keepers of the records and teachers of wisdom became haughty and self-righteous scribes and Pharisees—then was demonstrated the principle that any good thing can be corrupted in this world, and as Aristotle notes, as a rule, the better the original, the more vicious the corrupted version. When “two men went up into the temple to pray” (Luke 18:10), both were ostensibly going about their devotions; yet the one was bringing hypocrisy and vanity into the holy place. So we might seriously consider the proposition that whatever we see about us in the way of the institutions of civilization, good or bad, may in the end be traced to the temple.
Did Joseph Smith reinvent the temple by putting all the fragments—Jewish, Orthodox, Masonic, Gnostic, Hindu, Egyptian, and so forth—together again? No, that is not how it is done. Very few of the fragments were available in his day, and the job of putting them together was begun, as we have seen, only in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Even when they are available, those poor fragments do not come together of themselves to make a whole; to this day the scholars who collect them do not know what to make of them. The temple is not to be derived from them, but the other way around. If the temple, as the Latter-day Saints know it, had been introduced at any date later than it was, or at some great center of learning, it could well have been suspect as a human contrivance; but that anything of such fulness, consistency, ingenuity, and perfection could have been brought forth at a single time and place—overnight, as it were—is quite adequate proof of a special dispensation.
* This article first appeared under the title “The Idea of the Temple in History,” in Millennial Star 120 (1958): 228—37, 247—49. Nibley’s article was reprinted as What is a Temple? The Idea of the Temple in History (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1963). A second edition appeared under the same title in 1968. A German translation, “Die Templesidae in der Geschichte,” was published in Der Stern 2 (1959): 43—60. The concluding section entitled “Looking Backward” was added when this article was again reprinted in Truman G. Madsen, ed., The Temple in Antiquity (Provo: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1983), 39—51.
1. Orazio Marucchi, Handbuch der christlichen Archäologie (Einsiedeln: Benzinger, 1912), 25.
2. On the uniqueness of the temple, see TB Megilla 9b—10a.
3. A very common theme. Thus Eusebius says that the church is the intellectual image of the temple, Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 2 vols., Kirsopp Lake, trans. (London: Heinemann, 1926), X, 4, 69. Moses entering and leaving the Holy of Holies is for St. Gregory “the mind as it enters and leaves a state of contemplation”; the gold on the garment of the high priest is the gleam of intellect, etc., Epistolae (Letters) 25, in PL 77:471, 474.
4. Ambrose is a good example. See Henri Leclerq, “Gallicane (Liturgie),” in DACL 6:485—88.
5. An instructive parallel is furnished by Islam, where the Mosque follows the pattern of the synagogue, as Christian churches do, while the Kaaba, a wholly different institution, represents the temple; Gustav E. von Grunebaum, Mohammadan Festivals (New York: Schuman, 1951), 20—21; Elie Lambert, “La Synagogue de Doura-Europos et les origines de la mosquée,” Semitica 3 (1950): 67—72.
6. Jerome, Epistolae (Letters) 46, in PL 22:486.
7. Thus Gregorius Nyssenus, Epistolae (Letters) 2, in PG 46:1012, 1016.
8. William Simpson, “The Middle of the World in the Holy Sepulchre,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly (1888): 260—63. When St. Helen built the great church “at the very spot of the Sepulchre” to contain the wood of the cross, she actually called it “the New Jerusalem, in opposition to the old one, which had been deserted,” Socrates, HE 1, 17, in PG 67:117—22.
9. Ambrose, Epistolae (Letters) 20, note 2, discussed in PL 11:307—08.
10. H. Hubert, “Le Culte des héros et ses conditions sociales,” Revue de l’Histoire des Religions 71 (1915): 246—47. Maximus, Homiliae (Homilies) 72, in PL 57:405—06, expresses the sense of competition.
11. The “gaping hole” (trou beant) is Leclerq’s expression, “Gallicane (Liturgie),” 6:480. On the filling in, see Louis Duchesne, Origines du culte chrétien (Paris: Fontemoing, 1898), 8—10, and the English translation, Early History of the Christian Church: From Its Foundation to the End of the Fifth Century, Claude Jenkins, tr., 3 vols. (London: Hunt, 1950), 1:8—10; and more recently, Joseph Lechner and Ludwig Eisenhofer, Liturgik des römischen Ritus (Freiburg: Herder, 1953), 5—6, 191—93.
12. The ardent desire to lay down the ghost of the temple once and for all is apparent in Cyprian, Adversus Judaeos I, 20; II, 16—18, in PL 4:716—17, 739, 741; Lactantius, De Vera Sapientia (On True Wisdom) 4, 14, in PL 6:487; Athanasius, Oratio de Incarnatione Verbi (On the Incarnation of the Word) 40, in PG 25:165; Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) I, 2, 24, in PG 41:392—93; Basil, Commentaria in Isaiam (Commentary on Isaiah) 2, in PG 24:249.
13. It is rare to call a church a temple, but it causes no offence. Zeno was opposed to building imposing churches “because such a thing is not a real temple . . . the faithful people are the real Temple of God,” Tractatus (Tractate) I, 14, in PL 11:356. Athanasius says the true Holy of Holies is heaven itself, not those “temples of churches erected by men,” Quaestiones in Epistolas Pauli (On the Epistles of Paul) 127, in PG 28:769. Socrates reports that a pagan temple (naos) was converted into a Christian church, HE IV, 24 in PG 67:521—25. But the terms are used freely and interchangeably.
14. Varro, De Lingua Latina VII, 6—9; discussed by S. Weinstock, “Templum,” Römische Mittheilungen 47 (1932): 100—101. Cf. Alfred Jeramias, Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur (Leipzig: Hinrich, 1913), 146, 185.
15. Wilhelm Kroll’s statement in “Mundus,” in RE 16:1.563; Jeremias, Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur, 146, 185.
16. Alfred Jeremias, Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients (Leipzig: Hinrich, 1916), 49—51.
17. Eusebius, HE X, 4 in PG 20:848—80.
18. Varro, De Lingua Latina VII, 8.
19. Alfred Jeremias, “Semitische Völker in Vorderasien,” in Daniel P. Chantepie de la Saussaye, Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte, 2 vols. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1925), 1:513. The concept is fully developed by E. Burrows in his chapter, “Some Cosmological Patterns in Babylonian Religion,” in Samuel H. Hooke, ed., The Labyrinth (London: Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, 1935), 45—70.
20. It should be born in mind that ancient society was sacral in structure. One of the best discussions of the temple concept is by Zelia Nuttall, The Fundamental Principles of Old and New World Civilizations (Cambridge: Peabody Museum, 1901).
21. TB Pesahim 54a—b.
22. TB Erubin 56a. Anonymous, “The Herodian Temple, According to the Treatise Middoth and Flavius Josephus,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly (1886): 92—113, 224—28; (1887): 116—28.
23. Simpson, “Middle of the World,” 260—63. For illustrations, see Kenneth John Conant and Glanville Downey, “The Original Buildings at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,” Speculum 31 (1956): 1—48.
24. Von Grunebaum, Mohammadan Festivals, 20—21.
25. L. Voelkl, “Orientierung im Weltbild der ersten christlichen Jahrhunderte,” Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana 25 (1949): 155.
26. George Contenau, Le Déluge babylonien (Paris: Payot, 1952), 246.
27. André Parrot, Ziggurats et Tour de Babel (Paris: Michel, 1949), 208.
28. Contenau, Le Déluge babylonien, 246.
29. Henri Frankfort, Birth of Civilisation in the Near East (Garden City: Doubleday, 1956), 56, n. 5. Pierre Amiet, “Ziggurats et ‘Culte de Hauteur’ des origines a l’Epoque d’Akkad,” Revue d’Assyriologie 47 (1953): 23—33.
30. André Parrot, “La Tour de Babel et les Ziggurats,” Nouvelle Clio, vol. 2, no. 4 (1950): 159; Herbert Ricke, Bemerkungen zur aegyptischen Baukunst des alten Reiches (Zurich: Borchardt-Institut für Ägyptische Bauforschung und Altertumskunde in Kairo, 1944).
31. Amiet, “Ziggurats,” 30; Parrot, Ziggurat et Tour de Babel, 209; especially see Heinrich J. Lenzen, Die Entwicklung der Zikurrat von ihren Anfängen bis zur Zeit der III. Dynastie von Ur (Leipzig: Harrasowitz, 1941), for the altar idea.
32. Hermann Kees, Aegypten (Munich: Beck, 1933), 298; Jeremias, Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur, 33, 53, 125, 236, 343; for Israel, Robert Eisler, Iesous Basileus ou Basileusas, 2 vols. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1930), 2:670.
33. Eric Burrows, “Problems of the Abzu,” Orientalia 1 (1932): 231—56; Burrows, “Cosmological Patterns,” 49—51. The concept is very familiar to classical students, J.-A. Hild, “Mundus,” in Charles Daremberg and Edmond Saglio, eds., Dictionnaire des antiquités Classiques, 6 vols. (Paris: Hachette, 1904), 3:2021—22; Kroll, “Mundus,” 561—63.
34. The classic study is Ludwig Köhler, “Die Schlüssel des Petrus,” Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 8 (1905): 215—17; more recently Oscar Cullmann, Urchristentum und Gottesdienst (Zürich: Zwingli, 1950), 274—75. August Dell, “Mt. 16, 17—19,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 15 (1914): 27—29; Hermann Gunkel, Zum religionsgeschichtlichen Verständnis des Neuen Testaments (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1910), 73, n. 7; A. Sulzbach, “Die Schlüssel des Himmelreiches,” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 4 (1903): 190—93.
35. Alexandre Moret, Histoire de l’Orient (Paris: Presses Universitaires, 1929), 1:218—37, 365, 377. The theme is treated at length in Hooke, The Labyrinth.
36. This is strikingly depicted in John Chrysostom, Sermo post Reditum ab Exsilio (Discourse following the Return from Exile), n. 2, in PG 52:440.
37. A convenient presentation of this much-treated theme is in Otto Huth, Janus: ein Beitrag zur altrömischen Religionsgeschichte (Bonn: Rohrscheid, 1932), passim.
38. The chapter by Aubrey R. Johnson, “The Role of the King in the Jerusalem Cultus,” in Hooke, The Labyrinth, 73—111, is devoted to this theme.
39. William F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1942), 154—55, 167.
40. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, 150—55.
41. Arendt J. Wensinck, “The Semitic New Year and the Origins of Eschatology,” Acta Orientalia 1 (1922): 160.
42. Lord Fitz Roy Raglan, The Origins of Religion (London: Watts, 1949), 58—69.
43. Sigmund Mowinckel, Religion und Kultus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1953), 76.
44. Johnson, “The Role of the King,” 99—107; Wensinck, “Semitic New Year,” 160, 183; Mowinckel, Religion and Kultus, 73—76.
45. Theodore Gaster, Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Near East (New York: Schuman, 1950), compares the ritual dramas of Ras Shamra, the Hittites, Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, English Mummer’s Plays, and Christian Hymns.
46. Mowinckel, Religion and Kultus, 94.
47. Wensinck, “Semitic New Year,” 184—85.
48. Illustrated by the Babylonian formulae, e.g., “If he go to the house (temple) of the Seven, he will attain perfection.” “If he go to Babylon, trouble of a day, peace of a year,” etc., given by T. G. Pinches, “Pilgrimage (Babylonian),” in James Hastings, ed., Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 13 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1951), 10:12.
49. Mikhail I. Rostovzeff, Mystic Italy (New York: Holt, 1927), 76—78. An initiation is “really a pre-enactment of death and of the rising which it is desired should follow death,” Adolphus Peter Elkin, The Australian Aborigines (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1954), 159.
50. This important fact is emphasized by Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Literature (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1949), 57.
51. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis XXI, Mystagogica III de Chrismate (Catechetical Lecture on the Chrism), in PG 33:1088. Julius Firmicus Maternus, De Errore Profanarum Religionum (The Error of the Pagan Religions) 23, in PL 12:1031, also comments on the perfect identity of Christian and Egyptian initiation rites, and attributes it to the plagiarism of the latter.
52. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis XX, Mystagogica II de Baptismi Caeremoniis (Catechetical Lecture on the Rites of Baptism) in PG 33:1077—78.
53. Ibid., in PG 33:1089; on the real garment, see PG 33:1078. Cf. Tertullian, De Baptismo (On Baptism) 13, in PL 1:1323.
54. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture on the Rites of Baptism, in PG 33:1081.
55. Ibid., Catechetical, in PG 33:1093, 1068.
56. Rabbi Akiba, cited by Samuel Aba Horodezky, “Michael und Gabriel,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 72 (1928): 505.
57. Thus Marcus Minucius Felix, Octavius, ed. Bernhard Kytzler, (Leipzig: Teubner, 1982), ix—x.
58. Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets (Salt Lake City: Deseret and Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 65—69.
59. This fact is noted in Theodosius, Selecta de Religione Decreta (Selected Decrees Concerning Religion) 5—19, in PL 13:533—37.
60. Gaster, Thespis, 49, states: “The function of Myth . . . is to bring out in articulate fashion the inherent durative significance of the ritual program.” Gordon, Ugaritic Literature, 7, says: “As a rule, when a ritual is associated with a myth or legend, the ritual is the older, for the myth or legend tends to be an explanation of the already existing ritual.”
61. Even in the Pyramid Texts the “others say” formula occurs. “The two plumes on his head are Isis and Nephthys . . . but others say that the two plumes are the two very large uraei . . . and yet others say that the two plumes are his eyes,” in E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Dead: Papyrus of Ani, 3 vols. (New York: Putnam, 1913), vol. 3, pl. 7, line 32.
62. TB Pesahim 70b. In his famous letter to Gubbio in 416 A.D., Innocent I complains that “when everyone feels free to observe . . . whatever practices he likes, we see established observances and ways of celebrating of diverse nature. . . . The result is a scandal for the people who, not knowing that the ancient traditions have been altered by human presumption, think . . . that the Apostles established contradictory things;” Epistolae et Decreta (Letters and Decrees) 25, 1—3, in PL 20:551—52.
63. That is why, e.g., the Priestly Corporation of Heliopolis had to sit in judgement yearly to clear the dubious title of Pharaoh and Osiris; Rudolf Anthes, “The Original Meaning of M3c hrw,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 13 (1954): 49—50, 191—92; that is why the kingly title in Mesopotamia “carried in some degree the taint of usurpation, especially in early times;” Frankfort, Birth of Civilisation in the Near East, 80; and why Prometheus can call Zeus himself a sham and usurper; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, lines 937—43, 953—63; and why Loki can alarm Odin and the gods by threatening to reveal their secret—that they are frauds; Poetic Edda, Lokasenna.
64. For a preliminary account, Hugh W. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1952), 160—64. “Cosmic garment” is the designation of Jeremias, Das Alte Testament, 159.
65. Quoted in Eisler, Iesous Basileus ou Basileusas 1:525; cf. Book of Jasher 27:2, 7, 10; 7:24—27.
66. Hugh W. Nibley, “The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” Western Political Quarterly 2 (1949): 339—41.
67. From the first, the emergence of the pattern has alarmed Catholic divines, whose explanation of the widespread uniformities of ritual and liturgy has been that they exist only in the imaginations of scholars. Thus W. Paulus, “Marduk Urtyp Christi?” Orientalia 29 (1928): 63—66; J. de Fraine, “Les Implications du ‘patternism,'” Biblica 37 (1956): 59—73. While the ancients freely admitted the parallels and explained them as borrowings by the heathen from remnants of earlier dispensations of the gospel, the modern Catholic church, denying all dispensations but one, ignore the teachings of the Fathers and leave “patternism” unexplained.
68. Doyle Green, “Los Angeles Temple Dedication,” Improvement Era 59 (April 1956): 228—32.
69. Voelkl, “Orientierung im Weltbild,” 155. How little aware even scholars are of the temple concept in our own day is apparent from Sidney B. Sperry’s “Some Thoughts Concerning Ancient Temples and Their Functions,” Improvement Era 58 (1955): 814—16. If a modern Mormon student knows so little of the ideas here discussed, what are the chances of the elders of over a hundred years ago knowing anything at all about them?
70. E. L. Hawkings, “Freemasonry,” in Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics 6:120.
71. Ibid., describes Freemasonry as “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Pending the exhaustive study that the subject deserves, we will only say here that an extensive reading of Masonic and Mormon teachings and history should make it clear to any reader that the former is the shadow, the latter the substance. The one is literal, the other allegorical.
72. J. Quincy, Figures of the Past: From the Leaves of Old Journals (Boston: Little, Brown, 1910), 389.
73. Glyn Danial, “Megalithic Monuments,” Scientific American 243 (July 1980): 88—90.
74. Jacob Grimm, Deutsche Grammatik, 5 vols. (Hildesheim: Olm, 1967).
75. James G. Frazer, The New Golden Bough, Theodor H. Gaster ed. (New York: Phillips, 1959), xv—xx.
76. Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (New York: Viking, 1959), 4—5.
77. M. Eliade, Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York: Harper, 1959), 7—10.
78. “Sparsiones,” Classical Journal 40 (1945): 515—43.
79. See above, chapter 4.
80. “The Hierocentric State,” Western Political Quarterly 4 (1951): 226—53.
81. See below, chapter 9.
82. “Tenting, Toll, and Taxing,” Western Political Quarterly 29 (1966): 599—630.
83. See above, chapter 7.
84. “The Genesis of the Written Word” (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, Commissioner’s Lecture, 1973); reprinted New Era 3 (1973): 38—50
85. The Message of The Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1975).
86. See above, chapter 3.
87. “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” Improvement Era 71 (1968): 18—24, running serially until 73 (1970): 82—89, 91—94.
88. Abraham in Egypt (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1981).