Temple the Source of All Civilization

Hugh Nibley in 2000Professor Hugh Nibley often taught that the temple was the source of many of the institutions, forms, and trappings of our modern-day society. He once remarked:

There is no part of our civilization which doesn’t have its rise in the temple.1

Nibley also made the comments:

So poetry, music, and dance go out to the world from the temple-called by the Greeks the Mouseion, the shrine of the Muses.2


All the arts and sciences began at the temple. Dance, music, architecture, sculpture, drama, and so forth-they all go back to the temple.3

The more I study the temple the more I am convinced of these statements. I have found evidence for the temple in language, literature, poetry, dance, music, theater, drama, education, custom, astronomy, architecture, art, science, politics, and of course in the many religions of the world. Even our daily personal patterns of awakening, opening our eyes, arising, washing ourselves, getting dressed, eating breakfast, working out our salvation while the day of probation lasts, then going to sleep and awaiting to arise the next morning clearly has connections with the temple.

In what patterns of our civilization do you see the temple?

  1. Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, 25. []
  2. ibid., 23. []
  3. Nibley, Hugh, and Gary P. Gillum. Of all Things!: Classic Quotations from Hugh Nibley. 2nd, rev. and expand ed. Salt Lake City, Utah; Provo, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1993, 45. []


  1. Posted March 20, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    That is an enlightening perspective. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Posted March 24, 2008 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    Baptism and reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is in essence a “washing and anointing” prepatory to becoming members of the Kingdom of God.
    Studying any fraternal organization or mystery religion shows many parallels to our idea of initiation and endowment.
    Something funny I just thought while typing…
    When we find evidence of Greek and pagan ideas in other Christianity, it’s b/c of the Apostasy,
    When we find it in our Church, it’s called the scattered fragments that have been restored.

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