Professor William J. Hamblin has offered some good starting points in considering the relationship between the ancient Israelite temple ritual and the modern day LDS temple endowment. It is from this vantage point that we should approach trying to understand these ancient ritual systems and the connections they might have with the Latter-day Saints temple ritual.
“When considering the possible relationship between ancient Israelite temple system and the LDS Endowment, the first thing to note is the basic purpose of the ancient temple was to reconcile Israel with God and bring all Israel (represented by the twelve stones inscribed with the tribal names) back into the presence of God (that is recapitulating the Sinai theophany), symbolically represented by the Holy Place and Holy of Holies within the veil.
“The second thing to note is that Israel had exoteric rituals in the outer courtyard of the temple which could be witnessed by all (though only priests officiated). Esoteric rituals performed inside the temple itself could only be performed and witnessed by priests. LDS Endowment broadly corresponds to the esoteric rituals performed inside the temple, not the exoteric rituals performed outside. The ancient exoteric Israelite temple rituals correspond with the LDS weekly sacrament (the bread/wine offering of the Israelite temple).” (William Hamblin, Mormon Scripture Explorations)
Another important point to realize is that Christ was the last great blood sacrifice when He came in the meridian of time and offered the Atonement, which ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood (3 Ne. 9:19; cf. Mosiah 13:27; Alma 34:13; 3 Ne. 15:2–10). Since Christ was the last blood sacrifice (all precursors pointing to Him), from that point onward the outward nature of sacrificial ritual changed, but still pointing towards Christ, and still a sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9:20–22; Psalms 51:16–17; Psalms 34:18).
See the gallery below for various artists’ depictions of the rituals inside the ancient Israelite temple. Click each image to enlarge. [Read more…]
There is an excellent commentary by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, who is Catholic, on the LDS (Mormon) garment. In her article she describes the garment as not dissimilar to the sacred clothing of many religious groups around the world, including Jews, Catholics (Roman and Eastern), Sikhs, Buddhists, Amish, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, and tribal religions. I too once wrote about the sacred undergarment of the Jews, the tallit katan (and its tzitzit). [Read more…]
The following is a photo of a linen and wool screen curtain (velum) that comes from a monastery at Antinoë (Antinopolis), Egypt, and dates from the 5th-6th century. It is likely an artifact of the early Coptic Christians. It depicts a praying couple beneath an apse in a church or temple, with a Coptic inscription written in Greek script underneath. The apse of a church building is near the east end, where the altar is located. There are columns on the left and right, perhaps symbolizing Boaz and Jachin, pillars that flanked the entrance in the porch of Solomon’s Temple, and have come to symbolize the temple ever since. The figures are dressed in liturgical clothing, including what appears to be a mitre, a veil, and robes, and in the traditional early Christian attitude of prayer with uplifted hands. Size: 1.05 x 0.86 m. It is located at the Benaki Museum, Athens. (Thanks Chad!)
Hugh Nibley once made this audacious claim: “All the arts and sciences began at the temple. Dance, music, architecture, sculpture, drama, and so forth – they all go back to the temple”. The more I learn, the more I am convinced of that statement.
My mind returns again to posts I’ve written in the past about subjects that do not cease to fascinate me. Today I was reminded of a post in 2009, The Traditional Greek Folk Dances and their Ancient Roots. The Greek dances are some of the most ancient dances in the world, and have been passed down by tradition to the present day where they maintain many of their archaic forms. [Read more…]