Salt Lake Temple Symbols

Symbols on the Salt Lake Temple

Symbols on the Salt Lake Temple

There is an article this morning in the Mormon Times about the symbolism in the architecture of the Salt Lake Temple.  It is written by Lynn Arave who used as a reference Dean R. Zimmerman’s article in the New Era entitled “The Salt Lake Temple” from June 1978.

The article cites a brief description and explanation of several of the symbols found on the temple, and includes some interesting details that I did not know before, including this:

Not all the symbolism originally planned for the Salt Lake Temple became a reality, either. For example, an early sketch of the temple by Angell found hanging today in Brigham Young’s guest room at Cove Fort shows that two Angel Moroni statues, one each on the east and west ends, were initially envisioned. Only an eastern statue was ever used for reasons unclear….

For perhaps its first few decades, the Salt Lake Temple used to have statues of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, one each in niches at the top of the two eastern stairways. These bronze statues were later removed and placed elsewhere on the temple block, according to Elder Talmage in “The House of the Lord.” The empty spaces for these two statues remain and are popular photography spots for wedding parties today.1

For a more extensive treatment of the symbols of the Salt Lake Temple see Matthew Brown and Paul Smith’s excellent book Symbols in Stone.

  1. Lynn Arave, “Symbolism can be seen in architecture of S.L. Temple,” Mormon Times, November 27, 2008. []


  1. Sporgsmal
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    This article claims:

    “Turrets — On the corner tower are single spire stones, representing flaming torches.”

    Oh, really? If the writer would just look up at the objects they could have been able to easily tell that they are acanthus buds — NOT “flaming torches.”

    I guess that’s what you get for simply re-hashing something written back in the 70′s.

    I expect more accuracy from a Deseret News/Mormon Times journalist.

  2. Paul
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    A more recent treatment (and more thoughtful, thorough and accurate) can be found at BYU Studies.

  3. Posted November 29, 2008 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    A few years ago, I remember learning that Solomon’s temple had two pillars stood just outside the entrance to that temple. Some have suggested that the two “pillars” which stood at the entrance to the Salt Lake Temple were this dispensation’s two witnesses – Joseph and Hyrum (cf. Revelation 3:12.

  4. Handel
    Posted December 3, 2008 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    A temple is the crowning symbol of a dispensation. The “entry point” to every dispensation is always through “twos”. There must always be not one but two witnesses who will testify to the restoration of saving truths and priesthood keys. That’s what Joseph Fielding Smith taught in his book Doctrines of Salvation.

    So, there must be something more to having twin architectural features at the entrances to ancient and latter-day temples.

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