What Is a Temple?

Hugh W. Nibley, “What Is a Temple?” in The Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1984), 19–37.

What Is a Temple?

Hugh W. Nibley


Through a century and a half Latter-day Saints have become familiar with the impact of temple building and temple worship within their own culture. But if there is one man who has taught them the cross-cultural precedents of this center of Mormon faith and practice, it is the dean of Mormon historians, Hugh W. Nibley. Twenty-five years ago, in anticipation of the dedication of the London Temple, he wrote an essay under the title “The Idea of the Temple in History.” In this paper, renamed and reprinted here, he documents the ambivalence of the church fathers toward the Jerusalem temple—was it good riddance or tragic loss? He traces attempts to allegorize it or to relocate the sacred center as the church or the holy sepulchre. He has extended his study to comparative and patternistic methods which show a diffusion of temple ideas throughout all the cultures of the world. Implicitly he deals with “the question of priority” and in a variety of studies shows that the complex of Mormon temple architecture, symbolism, and ritual process cannot be found in the milieu of Joseph Smith’s own time and place. The closer similarities can be found in antiquity.

T. G. M.


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. St. 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. St. 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 (Ps. 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 Gen. 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 (Matt. 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-in-trade 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.

The Initiation

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. Now 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.


[1] O. Marucchi, Handbuch der christlichen Archaeologie (Einsiedeln: Benzinger & Co., 1912), p. 25.

[2] On the uniqueness of the Temple, Megillo I, xi (L. I. Goldschmidt, Der Babylonische Talmud [Haag: M. Nijhoff, 1933] III, 567f.).

[3] A very common theme. Thus Eusebius says (Eccl. Hist. X, 4, 69) that the Church is the intellectual image of the Temple. 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. (Epist. xxv, in Migne, Patrologiae Latinae 77:474, 471).

[4] St. Ambrose is a good example. See H. Leclerq, in F. Cabrol & H. Leclerq, Dictionnaire d’Archaeologie Chretienne et de Liturgie VI, 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 (see below, note 24); E. Lambert, “Le Synagogue de Dura-Europos et les Origines de la mosque,” Semitica III (1950): 67–72.

[6] St. Jerome, Epist. xlvi, in Migne, Patrol. Lat. 22:486.

[7] Thus Gregorius Nyssenus, Epist. ii, in Migne, Patrol. Graec. 46:1012, 1016.

[8] See below, note 23. 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, Eccles. Hist. I, 17.

[9] Ambrose, Epist. xx, n. 2, discussed in Migne, Patrol. Lat. 11:307f.

[10] H. Hubert, in Revue de I’Hist. des Religions, 1899, pp. 246f. St. Maximus, Homily 72, in Patrol. Lat. 57:405–6, expresses the sense of competition.

[11] The “gaping hole” (“trou beant”) is H. Leclerq’s expression, op. cit. VI, 480. On the filling in, L. Duchesne, Origines du Culte Chretien (Paris: Fontemoing, ed., 1898), pp. 8ff.; and more recently, J. Lechner & L. Eisenhofer, Liturgik des romischen Ritus (Freiburg: Herder, 1953), pp. 5–6, 191ff.

[12] The ardent desire to lay the ghost of the Temple once and for all is apparent in Cyprian, Adv. Judaeos, in Patrol. Lat. 4:716f., 739, 741; Lactantius, De vera sapientia IV, xiv, ibid. 6:487; Athanasius, De incarnat. verbi, in Patrol. Graec. 25:165; Epiphanius, Adv. haeres. 1, 2, 24, ibid., 41:392–93; Basil, Comment, in Isaiam ii, ibid., 24:249, etc.

[13] It is rare to call a church a temple, but it causes no offense. 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” (Lib. I. Tract, iv, in Patrol. Lat. 11:356). Athanasius says the true Holy of Holies is Heaven itself, not those “temples of churches erected by men” (Quaestiones in Epist. Pauli, in Patrol. Graec. 28:769). Socrates reports that a pagan temple (naos) was converted into a Christian church (Hist. Eccl. IV, 24). But the terms are used freely and interchangeably.

[14] Varro, Ling. Lat. VII, 6–9; discussed by S. Weinstock, “Templum,” in Romische Mittheilungen XLVII (1932): 100–101. Cf. A. Jeremias, Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur (Leipzig, 1913), pp. 146, 185.

[15] O. Richter, in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencycl. d. Altertumswissenschaft XVI, i, 563; Jeremias, loc. cit.

[16] A. Jeremias, Das Alte Testament im Lichte des Alten Orients (Leipzig, 1916), 3rd ed., pp. 49ff.

[17] Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. X, 4, 69.

[18] Ling. Lat. VII, 8.

[19] A. Jeremias, in C. De la Saussaye, Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte (Tubingen, 1925) I, 513. The concept is fully discussed by E. Burrows in his chapter in S. H. Hooke, ed., The Labyrinth (London: SPCK, 1935).

[20] It should be borne 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 (Peabody Museum Papers, vol. 2, 1901).

[21] Pesachim IV, iv (Goldschmidt, II, 512).

[22] Erubim V, i (Goldschmidt II, 186–90). “Middoth, or the Measurements of the Temple,” Palest. Explor. Fund Quart., 1886, pp. 92ff., 224ff.; 1887, pp. 60ff., 116ff.

[23] “The Middle of the World, in the Holy Sepulchre,” Pal. Expl. Fund Quart., 1888, pp. 260ff. For illustrations, K. J. Conant and G. Downey, “The Original Buildings at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,” Speculum 31 (1956): 1–48.

[24] G. E. von Grunebaum, Mohammedan Festivals (New York: Schuman, 1951), p. 20.

[25] L. Voelkl, “Orientierung im Weltbild der erster christlichen Jahrhunderte,” Rivista di Arceologia Cristiana XXV (1949): 155.

[26] G. Contenau, Le Deluge Babylonien, etc., p. 246.

[27] A. Parrot, Ziggurats et Tour de Babel (Paris: A. Michel, 1949), p. 208.

[28] Contenau, loc. cit.

[29] H. Frankfort, Birth of Civilisation in the Near East (Garden City: Doubleday, 1956), p. 56, n. 5. P. Amiet, “Ziggurats et ‘Culte de Hauteur’ des Origines a l’Epoque d’Akkad,” Revue d’Assyriologie XLVII (1953):23–33.

[30] A. Parrot, “La Tour de Babel et les Ziggurats,” in La Nouvelle Clio IV (1950):159; Herb. Ricke, “Bemerkungen zur Aegyptischen Baukunst des alten Reiches,” I, in Beitr. zur Aeg. Bauforschung U. Altertumskunde, Heft 4 (Zurich, 1944).

[31] Amiet, op. cit., p. 30; A. Parrot, Ziggurats, etc., p. 209; especially see H. J. Lenzen, Die Entwicklung der Zikurrat von ihren Anfangen bis zur Zeit der III Dyn. von Ur (Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1941), for the altar idea.

[32] H. Kees, Aegypten (Munich: Beck, 1933), p. 298; A. Jeremias, Handbuch, etc., pp. 33, 53, 125, 236, 343; for Israel, R. Eisler, Jesus Basileus ou Basileusas (Heidelberg, 1930), II, 670.

[33] E. Burrows, “Problems of the Abzu,” Orientalia I (1932):231–56, and in Hocke, op. cit., pp. 49ff. The concept is very familiar to classical students, Daremberg-Saglio, Dictionnaire III, 2021f.; O. Richter, in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencycl. XVI, i, 561–63.

[34] The classic study is Kohler’s in Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft VII (1906):215ff.; more recently O. Cullmann, Urchristentum und Gottesdienst (Zurich: Zwingli-Ferlag, 1950), 274f.; Aug. Dell, “Mt. 16:17–19,” in Ztschr. f. NT Wiss. 15 (1914):27ff.; H. Gunkel, Zum Religionsgeschichtliche Verstandnis des Neuen Testaments (Gottingen, 1903), p. 73, n. 7; A. Sulzbach, “Die Schlussel des Himmelreiches,” Ztschr. f. NT Wiss. IV (1903): 190–93.

[35] A. Moret, Histoire de I’Orient (Paris: Presses Universitaires, 1941) I, 218–37, 365, 377. The theme is treated at length in Hooke, op. cit.

[36] This is strikingly depicted in John Chrysostom, Sermo post redi tum, in Patrol. Graec. 52:440.

[37] A convenient presentation of this much-treated theme is Otto Huth, Janus (Bonn, 1932), passim.

[38] The chapter by A. R. Johnson in S. H. Hooke, Labyrinth, is devoted to this theme.

[39] W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1942), pp. 154–55, 88–89, 167.

[40] W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1942), pp. 154–55, 88–89, 167.

[41] A. J. Wensinck, “The Semitic New Year and the Origins of Eschatology,” in Acta Orientalia I (1922):160.

[42] Lord Raglan, The Origins of Religion (Thinker’s Library; London: Watts, 1949), pp. 58–69.

[43] S. Mowinckel, Religion und Kultus (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck, 1953), p. 76.

[44] Hooke, op. cit., pp. 99–107; Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 160, 183; Mowinckel, op. cit., pp. 73–76

[45] T. 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, op. cit., p. 94.

[47] Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 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 the city of Babylon, trouble of a day, peace of a year,” etc., given by T. G. Pinches, in Hastings’s Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, X, 12.

[49] M. I. Rostovzeff, Mystic Italy (New York, 1927), pp. 76–78. An initiation is “really a preenactment of death and of the rising which it is desired should follow death,” A. P. Elkin, The Australian Aborigines (Sydney, 1st ed.), p. 159.

[50] This important fact is emphasized by C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Literature (Rome: Pontif. Inst. Bibl., 1949), p. 57.

[51] St. Cyril, Catechesis xxi, Mystagogica iii, in Patrol. Graec. 33:1088. J. F. Maternus, in Patrol. Lat. 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, op. cit., 1077f.

[53] Ibid., 1089; on the real garment, 1078; cf. Tertullian, De bapt., c. 13.

[54] Ibid., 1081.

[55] Ibid., 1093, 1068.

[56] R. Akiba, cited by S. A. Horodezky, in Monatsschr. f. Gesch. u. Wiss. des Judentums LXXII, 505.

[57] Thus Minucius Felix, Octavius, 9–10.

[58] H. Nibley, The World and the Prophets (Salt Lake: Deseret Book Company, 1954), pp. 59–62.

[59] This fact is noted in Theodosius, Selecta de religione decreta, in Patrol. Lat. 13:533–37.

[60] Gaster, op. cit., p. 49: “The function of Myth is to make articulate the durative significance of the ritual.” C. Gordon, op. cit., p. 7: “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,” etc. E. A. W. Budge, Papyrus of Ani (New York: Putnam’s, 1913) III, plate 7, line 32.

[62] Pes. VI, iii-iv (Goldschmidt II, 573). In his famous letter to Gubbio in A.D. 416, 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. . . .” Patrol. Lat. 20:551f.

[63] That is why, e.g., the Priestly Corporation of Heliopolis had to sit in judgment yearly to clear the dubious title of Pharaoh and Osiris (R. Anthes, in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 13 [1954]:49–50, 191f.); that is why the kingly title in Mesopotamia “carried in some degree the taint of usurpation, especially in early times” (H. Frankfort, op. cit., p. 80); and why Prometheus can call Zeus himself a sham and a usurper (Aeschylus, Prometh. Bound, lines 937–43, 953–63); and why Loki can alarm Othinn and the gods by threatening to reveal their secret-that they are frauds (Poetic Edda, Lokasenna).

[64] For a preliminary account see H. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites (Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1952), pp. 160–64. “Cosmic garment” is the designation of A. Jeremias, Das Alte Testament, etc., p. 159.

[65] Quoted in R. Eisler, op. cit., I, 525; cf. Book of Jasher XXVII, 2, 7, 10; VII, 24–27.

[66] H. Nibley, in Western Political Quarterly II (1949):339ff.

[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 Christ?” Orientalia, no. 29 (1928); J. de Fraine, “Les Implications du ‘patternism,’” Biblica 38 (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] For the most recent illustrations, see Improvement Era 59 (April 1956):228ff.

[69] L. Voelkl, in Riv. Arch. Crist. 25 (1949):155. How little aware even scholars are of the Temple concept in our own day is apparent from Brother S. B. Sperry’s “Thoughts on Ancient Temples and Their Functions,” Improvement Era 58 (1955):814ff. 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. Hawkins, in Hastings’s Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, VI, 120.

[71] Hawkins, loc. cit., 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 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1901), p. 389.