A New Focus on Temples
There have not been many temples in Judeo-Christian history, at least not many we know about. Because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church to some), has been so focused on temple-building, it comes foremost to mind when one puts the two words “Christian” and “temple” together in the same sentence. Because of access to more scripture and modern revelation, Mormons know that temples have been built whenever and wherever followers of God have been found. The great patriarchs who followed Adam in history built temples. The Book of Mormon peoples, who lived in North America for a thousand years (600 B.C to 400 A.D.) built temples. Because of more scripture, Mormons know that Abraham taught the Egyptians astronomy, but perhaps also doctrines of heaven. Could the Egyptians have built temples in the Judeo-Christian sense? Perhaps.
Recently, interest in temples has spread farther than Mormonism, and several scholars outside the LDS Church have written and presented their theories, ideas, and findings, eliciting great interest from members of the Church of Jesus Christ. As reported in a Deseret News article of October 11, 2012, Daniel Peterson, a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, is involved with these authors and shares their interest. The article announces a conference to be held at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, titled “Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition.”
A keynote address will be delivered by The British Methodist scholar Margaret Barker. She “has published a stream of insightful, paradigm-shifting books in the field and in related areas, including such volumes as “The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy” (London, 2003), “Temple Theology: An Introduction” (London, 2004), and “Temple Themes in Christian Worship” (London, 2008). Her work has found a particularly receptive audience among Mormon scholars, many of whom have discovered her approach to the ancient temple to be extraordinarily congenial and productive” (Deseret News). “
Rev. Dr. Laurence Hemming, another British leader in modern studies of temple theology, will address the subject of ‘Chapel, Church, Temple, Cathedral: Lost Parallels in Mormon and Catholic Worship.’” This is one more bridge erected in the growing friendship of the Catholic and Mormon Churches.
Joining them will be a number of Latter-day Saint researchers. John Hall, a professor of classical languages and ancient history at BYU, is slated to present a paper on “Ancient Mediterranean Temple Ceremonies: Vestiges of the Rites of Enoch and Precursors to the Hebrew Temple Ceremonial.” John Welch, editor of the quarterly journal “BYU Studies,” creator of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), and Robert K. Thomas Professor of Law at BYU, will revisit a subject to which he has made major, internationally recognized contributions: “The Temple in the Sermon on the Mount and the Gospel of Matthew.”
Dr. Daniel Peterson will follow these speakers.
Other Latter-day Saint participants in the conference are Danel Bachman, a retired instructor at the LDS Institute of Religion in Logan, who will present his massive “Temple Studies Bibliography”; Le Grande Davis, an adjunct professor of anthropology and archaeology at Weber State University, speaking on “Temples — Bridges of Eternity”; and John Fowles, a member of the faculty at the Logan Institute of Religion, who will discuss “The Temple, the Book of Revelation, and Joseph Smith.”
It seems appropriate that temple scholars dig back into history to find the roots of temple worship and true religion. Mormons hold that Christianity has always been with us, beginning with Adam, and so has true temple worship. The Pearl of Great Price, part of Latter-day Saint canonized scripture, says the following:
And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence. And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will. And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth…(Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:4-10).
Request a free copy of the Book of Mormon (Another Testament of Jesus Christ)