William Hamblin and Daniel Peterson have written a column in the Deseret News entitled “Understanding the centrality of temple rites,” which gives a great introduction to what has become known as “temple theology,” which is essentially the centrality of the temple in the Bible and in Christianity. Most of modern Christianity believes the temple to be quite foreign to their worship, and yet it pervades the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. Why is that? Professors Hamblin and Peterson help give us a brief introduction to that topic, as well as the scholarship of Methodist scholar Margaret Barker, the newly formed Academy for Temple Studies, the Temple Studies Group in England, and the temple conference in Logan Utah this past week for which Margaret Barker was the keynote speaker. It is an exciting time for temple studies!
It’s been a long time coming, since September 2008 to be exact, and I’d like to finally complete this series of posts on the seal of Melchizedek. It is probably one of the most trafficked series of posts on this website. It’s drawn a lot of attention, and may have even been part of what compelled a BYU scholar, Alonzo L. Gaskill, to publish an article about it in The Religious Educator at BYU in 2010, which article I’d like to talk about.
But first, there are a few other artifacts related to the symbol that I’d like to share. As I pointed out in Part 2, this seal is most prominently found as displayed in the mosaics and iconography in the basilicas of Ravenna, Italy. Indeed, this is very likely where Hugh Nibley saw this symbol originally, as perhaps did Michael Lyon, and where he may have coined the name the “seal of Melchizedek.” The symbol is shown on the altar cloths in these mosaics, shown next to Melchizedek, Abel, and Abraham, in making sacrificial offerings to God. The altar cloth also shows gammadia in the corners, right-angle marks like the Greek letter gamma, which is also very interesting, and worthy of a study in and of itself.
To begin, I want to note again that to date I have not found any evidence for this symbol being called the “seal of Melchizedek” by any other scholar, historian, or historical figure in recorded history before Hugh Nibley and Michael Lyon. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it is likely a conception that began with the Latter-day Saints, making a logical connection between the symbol and the Biblical figure found adjacent to it in the mosaics. [Read more…]
A couple days ago I received notice of a new conference that will be taking place at Utah State University, in Logan, Utah, on October 29, 2012. The topic will be “Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition.” This symposium comes as a collaboration between a new U.S. based temple studies organization called Academy for Temple Studies together with Utah State University Religious Studies program.
This looks like it will be a singular event, with a fantastic line-up of well-known scholars speaking about the temple throughout history! I will certainly be in attendance, and hope to see many of you there too. Please help spread the word of this inaugural conference by sharing news of this event with your friends and family. It’s easy, you can click the “Like” button below to quickly share this link on your Facebook timeline with all your friends, or click the “Send” button below to quickly send this link privately to certain friends, family, groups, or any email address. (Note, these buttons are only visible on the TempleStudy.com website.)
Here is the full press release about the conference: [Read more…]
The Doctrine and Covenants section 93 verse 1 reads:
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; (D&C 93:1)
This superlative promise was one of the foundations of Joseph Smith’s restoration, and whose revelations repeated throughout his calling as God’s prophet: [Read more…]
I’ve posted about the discovery of the Jordanian lead plates two times now, and have been following the news stories closely over the last few days. As I have said, extensive investigation must still be done to verify the authenticity of the find, and determine facts such as precise dating, who made them, and their meaning. Unfortunately, the details keep getting stranger and stranger.
I’m usually one who likes to believe. Joseph Smith once taught, “I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.” But the facts seem to be stacking up against this one.