Detail from a 6th century mosaic in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy.
(Continued from Part 1)
As you might have imagined, the first thing I did when my parents told me the story of the “seal of Melchizedek” on the San Diego temple, and of the connection with Hugh Nibley, I immediately did some searches to see if I could find if it was referenced in LDS literature. The only reference I found was an image caption in the article “Sacred Vestments” in the book Temple and Cosmos:
Another Ravenna mosaic, c. A.D. 520, shows the priest-king Melchizedek in a purple cloak, offering bread and wine at the altar (Genesis 14:18-20). The white altar cloth is decorated with two sets of gammadia, as well as the so-called “seal of Melchizedek,” two interlocked squares in gold. Abel offers his lamb as Abraham gently pushes Isaac forward. The hand of God reaches down to this sacred meeting through the red veils adorned with golden gammadia on either side. The theme is the great sacrifice of Christ, which brings together the righteous prophets from the past as well as the four corners of the present world, thereby uniting all time and space. (Nibley, “Sacred Vestments,” Temple and Cosmos, 109.)
The drawing of the mosaic by Michael Lyon shown in Temple and Cosmos is from a basilica in Ravenna, Italy, called Sant’Apollinare in Classe. This is the best color photograph of this mosaic I could find: [Read more…]