There are 27 thoughts on “Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances”.

  1. Looking for the quote by I believe a woman who said that the Savior tutored Joseph for a whole week during the establishment of the endowment, that the Savior was present for many long hours during this process

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  7. There is a little-known letter in the Church’s archives written by the man who was with Joseph–little known because they did not have it before 2015–about Joseph Smith receiving the endowment ceremony in the Kirtland Temple, which does much to clarify the timeline. That’s the facts. Now the speculation, or what I was taught as a young kid. God knew that the endowment would be compared to masonry, so he told Joseph to join and then He, God, would explain the similarities and differences and The Prophet Joseph being familiar with both be able to answer questions about the similarities and differences.

  8. As a Latter-day Saint and a Master Mason I had to say I enjoyed your article. It is free from several of the inaccuracies I have found in other articles that approach the subject, usually getting their information from Duncan’s ritual and other exposés of masonry and often misunderstanding what is described. Your summary of the situation is very good. However, I have to agree with other comments that your article wanders pretty far afield from its title subject. Although the information is compelling, a title reflecting the broader examination of parallels to the temple ritual would be better.
    Personally, I think that in the LDS mind there is an idea that the similarity between the temple and the lodge is almost identical. I think more needs to be said about just how different they are. Certainly there are a few key spots where the similarities are striking but taken as a whole the overlap is very small.
    For example, in the Temple I have never been knocked off my feet, been bound, blindfolded, had a naked sword placed by my heart, attacked by ruffians, had questions posed to me that I could not have known an answer for, led through a winding staircase, given construction tools, asked to memorized column types, or forced to ride a goat.
    In the lodge I have never been instructed on creation, Adam and Eve, eternal marriage, received threats from Satan, met any apostles (ok there is a brief reference to St. John but he never actually shows up), had one of my ribs taken from me while I was sleeping (except that one time at the BBQ), been introduced to my wife, and never entered a magnificent room intended solely for quiet reflection.
    Likewise while some symbols such the compasses and square, the all seeing eye, the beehive and the Bible on the altar will seem very familiar to both groups, other shared symbols such as the white leather apron which signifies rank, purity and innocence, and is intended to prevent soiling your clothes in masonry is substantially different than the biblical apron of fig leaves symbolized in LDS temple worship.
    Other Masonic symbols such as the cabletow, the 24 inch gage, the trowel, the setting maul, the trestle board, the plumb line, the broken column, the empty shoe, the hoodwink, the three burning tapers, King Solomon, King Hyrum of Tyre, the rough and perfect ashlar, or the three stations would be completely unfamiliar to most Latter-day Saints.
    In a similar manner, there is no specific portrayal of Elohim, Jehovah, Michael, Adam, Eve, a Preacher, Satan, Peter, James or John in any ritual of Masonry. There is no concept of the work having a saving nature, certainly no thought of work for the dead. Women are excluded. There is no talk of eternal families or offspring. No concept of building Zion. Prayer is important but is not treated the same as in LDS Temples.
    Really while there is an undeniable influence or similarity of certain key points, the two remain very different in both form and function and I fear in our efforts to respond to critics or defend the legitimacy of the similarities this point gets frequently lost.

    • Dear Gilgamesh–
      Thank you for your valuable perspective.
      Regarding the title of the article, perhaps in retrospect it could have been better chosen, as you have pointed out. Originally the title was simply “The Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances.” My purpose was to examine not only the relationship to Freemasonry but also some of the relevant early revelations, experiences, teachings, and translations of Joseph Smith that we have available to us. I also wanted to provide a brief argument in support of Joseph Smith’s claim that the temple ordinances go back to the beginning.
      I agree with your point that without adequate appraisal of the differences between Masonic ritual and modern temple ordinances — and likewise without an appreciation of the early revelations, experiences, teachings, and translations of Joseph Smith that bear on the subject — we are likely to inappropriately magnify the relevance of Freemasonry as an element in the restoration of modern temple ordinances.

      • So I feel I must clear up one thing in my comments for non Masonic readers. My reference above to “riding a goat” is very old (older than Joseph’s day) inside joke in Masonry. There is no goat and nothing like that happens. New initiates, often nervous about the unknown about to occur, are frequently told about having to ride a goat just to have some fun with them. It is so commonly joked about that many Masonic exposés try to incorporate it into the ritual somewhere. In this same spirit a young friend of mine preparing to enter the temple and apprehensive about the unknown nature of the ceremony asked me if there was any advice I could give to help make his first experiance a success. I offered the following advice: “No matter what else happens or what you may be asked to do remember this one thing, DON’T DROP THE APPLES!!!” This provided entertainment for me and his brother for weeks while he tried to make sense of this. And a “Can’t believe I took you seriously” look from him after the ceremony.
        On a separate note, in your examination of the feeling toward Masonry after Navoo you should probably have a look at the easy to miss statement of Brigham Young made at the dedication of the corner stones of the St George Temple found in Journal of Discourses vol 18 page 303. http://jod.mrm.org/18/303
        Brigham makes some great statements here that relate to the central allegory of Masonry and indicates he believes them to be historically true.

        • For the record, here is the passage by Brigham Young that Gilgamesh refers to with the full citation (1) and a few of my notes (2, 3, 4):
          “We that are here are enjoying a privilege that we have no knowledge of any other people enjoying since the days of Adam, that is, to have a Temple completed, wherein all the ordinance[s] of the house of God can be bestowed upon his people (2). Brethren and sisters, do you understand this? It seems that a great many of the people know nothing about it. It is true that Solomon built a Temple for the purpose of giving endowments, but from what we can learn of the history of that time they gave very few if any endowments, and one of the high priests was murdered by wicked and corrupt men, who had already begun to apostatize, because he would not reveal those things appertaining to the Priesthood that were forbidden him to reveal until he came to the proper place (3). I will not say but what Enoch had Temples and officiated therein, but we have no account of it. We know that he raised up a people so pure and holy that they were not permitted to remain with the wicked inhabitants of the earth, but were taken to another place (4).”
          (1) Young, Brigham. 1877. “The great privilege of having a temple completed; past efforts for this purpose; remarks on conduct; earth, heaven, and hell, looking at the Latter-day Saints; running after holes in the ground; arrangements for the future (Remarks by President Brigham Young, delivered at the temple, St. George, January 1, 1877).” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 18, 303-05. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1884. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966. President Young’s remarks were given just a few months prior to the formal dedication of the St. George Temple on 6 April 1877.
          (2) Despite President Young’s references to the temples of Solomon and Enoch, President Young seemed to be of the opinion that they did not administer “all the ordinance[s] of the house of God … upon his people.” It seems unlikely that he is meaning to say that all the ordinances of the temple were not given in the temples of Solomon and Enoch (and, for that matter, in the early Christian Church for a time, including work for the dead). It seems more likely that he is saying that these ordinances were not so easily and generally available to the covenant people for an extended period of time as it was now the case in the latter-days.
          (3) Here, as mentioned by Gilgamesh, President Young seems to be referring to the legend of Hiram Abiff as included in Masonic ritual. Nearly all Masons accept this story as allegorical rather than historical.
          (4) For brief summaries of ancient literature pointing to traditions of Enoch as “the great initiate who becomes the great initiator,” see H. W. Nibley, Enoch, pp. 19-20; J. M. Bradshaw and D. J. Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel, pp. 118-123; J. M. Bradshaw. “The LDS book of Enoch as the culminating story of a temple text.” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 39-73.

    • Hi, Bob. Thanks for your comment.
      You mention the idea that John C. Bennett’s “role in all of this is much more significant.” Certainly, there were many aspects of the history of Freemasonry in Nauvoo that were not covered in detail in this article, but to reply to your concern it would help me to know exactly what specific role John C. Bennett played that you see as underemphasized in the article.
      Although Bennett was asked in 1841 to petition a neighboring lodge (Bodley #1 in Quincy) for their support and recommendation that a lodge be established in Nauvoo, the Prophet’s earlier and more-lasting relationship with Judge Adams seems to have played the major role with respect to the Prophet’s initial decision to establish a lodge in Nauvoo. Although Bennett became a prominent member of the Nauvoo Lodge, he soon fell into disfavor and never experienced the Nauvoo Temple endowment firsthand. Adams, on the other hand, was one of the select group of Mormon Masons who received his endowment on the first day the Prophet administered it to others, and remained a respected advisor and father-like figure to Joseph Smith until the former’s sudden death due to cholera in 1842.
      With respect to Bennett’s views of about Masonic elements in the endowment, I write in footnote 26: In an article in the Quincy Whig published on July 16, 1842, Bennett does describe the Nauvoo temple ceremony as “a new degree of masonry, called ‘Order Lodge’” (A. F. Smith, Saintly Scoundrel, p. 103) and in his History of the Saints claimed that Joseph Smith pretended to have had “revealed to him the real Master’s word” (J. C. Bennett, History of the Saints, pp. 276), though it will be obvious to students of Mormonism that the brief summaries of temple ritual appearing in Bennett’s publications (which he had never witnessed personally) are full of inaccuracies and outright fictions.

  9. This was very informative.
    I have asked this question and never get an answer. Maybe someone can shed some light on this matter.
    While a teen in the 70’s/80’s I remember reading about the First Presidency saying that LDS should not join secret organizations and clubs ( the Bishop and Stake Presidents reiterated the same). The Mason’s / Eastern Star was specifically mentioned as one of the organizations to not join.
    About the end of the 80’s this subject of not joining secret organizations was never mentioned, that I can remember. Today this subject is never brought up. I now read where many, many LDS are Masons and Eastern Stars and it is now acceptable.
    (As a teen I joined the girls organization Rainbows, which prepared females for Eastern Star, and DeMolay prepared boys for Masons. I never joined Eastern Star because of what the church leaders said. I was in a small town, and it was the only thing the youth had to do. Catholics, which was the majority religion in town, never joined).
    Why the change by the Salt Lake leaders? For years we were told to stay away from the Masons (and others), and now it is perfectly alright to be a Mason. Does anyone know why members were told to not join Masons and other similar organizations, and today not a word about the dangers of joining secret organizations, clubs, and the Masons?
    Thank you.

    • Dear JRSG–
      Though I have not attempted to make a complete survey of the issue, I hope the observations below will be helpful in answering your questions.
      President Heber C. Kimball, who joined Masonry before he became a member of the Church and was a member of the Nauvoo Lodge, provides an interesting case study of the ambivalent attitudes of the Church toward Masonry after they came to Utah. President Kimball “remained loyal to Masonry all his life and on occasion publicly praised the organization and its members” (S. B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball, p. 83). “As late as 1861 in the Great Basin he publicly announced that he was still true to his Masonic brethren (“I have been true to my country, to my Masonic brethren, and also to my brethren in this Church” (H. C. Kimball, 7 July 1861, p. 182)). He did not, however, join the Masonic lodge established in Utah by the federal troops at Camp Floyd (the Rocky Mountain Lodge, No. 205) or in Salt Lake City in the 1860s (the Mount Moriah and Wasatch Lodges, for example). In fact Mormons were for years excluded by the Masons from joining these lodges…” (S. B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball, p. 84). In 1861, he lamented the divided state of Masonry and sectarian Christianity in the context of the recent federal troops that were sent to Utah by US President James Buchanan (H. C. Kimball, 7 July 1861, p. 182):
      “They have now got Masonic institutions against Masonic institutions, and Presbyterians operate against Presbyterians, and Episcopalians against Episcopalians, and, finally, it will be every man against his neighbor. But while they are being divided one against another, this people are raising the standard of King Emmanuel, and we will sustain the Constitution of the United States, and also all good and wholesome laws.”
      In 1925, the Grand Lodge of Utah formally prohibited Latter-day Saints from joining, although members of the Church were free to join elsewhere (Ibid., p. 338), though an unwritten policy of excluding Mormons from the Utah Grand Lodge had been in place since 1866. In 1934, President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency published the following statement on this subject (A. W. Ivins, Relationship of ‘Mormonism’ and Freemasonry, pp. 8-9):
      “The Mormon Church has no quarrel with Free Masonry or any other organization which is formed for a righteous purpose. It advises its members to refrain from identifying themselves with any secret, oath-bound society. It believes that there exist within the Church all the elements which are necessary for the spiritual, social, and ethical development of its members. We have observed that affiliation with secret, oath-bound organizations tends to draw people away from the performance of Church duties. It is difficult to serve two masters and do justice to both. Since the establishment of the Church many people have drifted away from it and become members of other organizations. We have not discovered an instance where such change has made a man or woman more honest, moral, temperate, and exemplary. On the other hand men and women from all walks of life, Masons included, who have identified themselves with the Church, testify that their mode of life has been entirely changed …
      A Mason who may become a member of the Mormon Church is in no way restrained from affiliation with his lodge, nor does the fact that he is a Mason in any degree bar him from receiving the highest order of priesthood that can be conferred upon man, viz, the Melchizedek Priesthood.”
      On page 253 of the same volume, he wrote:
      “[The Church] maintains the advice which it has always given to its members, viz.: that they refrain from affiliation with any secret, oath-bound society. It maintains that to loyally serve the Church and the government under which is exists is the first duty of every citizen, and that affiliation with any secret, oath-bound society is liable to lead men and women away from these two first duties.”
      Personal copies of the book in which this statement appeared were distributed widely by the members of the First Presidency.
      An illustrative example of the attitudes after this period is Helvécio Martins, who later became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. After his conversion to the Church in 1972, he recorded the following account of how he discontinued his participation in Masonry (H. Martins et al., Autobiography, pp. 52-53), which was in line with the counsel of Church leaders at the time:
      “Our conversion, then didn’t necessitate breaking ties with our family. We just had to change our interaction in some respects. But we did, after baptism, decide to openly and officially break ties with former doctrines. I wrote a letter to the Centro Espírita declaring our new beliefs, and officially severed our connection with Macumba. I also ended my participation in Freemasonry.
      Because I had ascended to the higher levels of the organization, the Masonic fraternity greatly encouraged my return to activity, visiting me at home and work and inviting me to dinner. But I never swerved in my position. The gospel of Jesus Christ had filled my heart and mind so completely, I felt my spirit had not room for other types of philosophies. The Masons persisted, however, only halting their reactivation efforts when I began inviting them to church. For every invitation I received to attend a Masonic meeting, I responded with an invitation to attend our ward. This method soon discouraged them, but I remain friends to this day with several Masons. Whenever I was called to a leadership position in the Church, I invited my Masonic friends to lunch and, after explaining to them was was happening in my life, encouraged them to investigate the Church. Unfortunately, none of them have yet accepted this challenge.”
      In a book published in 1974, President Harold B. Lee made it clear, however, that participation in Masonry was not an automatic impediment to priesthood service (H. B. Lee, Stand, pp. 266-267):
      “Now, just one more thought with reference to giving priesthood to men who belong to secret and fraternal orders. I was in a mission where there was an able man whose services were needed, but someone had the understanding that he could not be given the priesthood and used because he was a Mason. It was thought that there were some letters of instruction from the First Presidency, or President Joseph Fielding Smith, that gave them license to withhold priesthood or any activities from this man. When I asked them to show me the letters they referred to, we found that what they said in substance was: If there is such a man (and quite frequently you will find some of these leading men who turn up as members of some lodge — Mason, Eagle, Elks Club, etc.) the thing that you should always say is, “I am not concerned about what you have been. I am concerned about what you are going to be from now on.” If he understands and is truly converted, he will agree that his first allegiance will be to his priesthood and to the Church, and that he will cease his fraternal activities. Some of them argue that they should maintain their membership because of the insurance values of belonging. Whether they do that or not is their own business, but if they tell us that they are prepared to give their first allegiance to the Church, then we can give them the priesthood and full activity as merited by their worthiness. President Heber J. Grant used to tell us about one such man who had been an active member in a Masonic Lodge, and when President Grant told this man he was being called to be the president of a stake, the man demurred, saying, “I am a 32nd Degree Mason.” President Grant said the same thing to him: “I am not concerned with what you have been. It is what you are going to be from now on.” You cannot serve two masters, and so we say to you, use these men, and probably by their being used, you will gradually wean them from what you don’t like to something that is better.”
      In 1984, the ban of the Grand Lodge of Utah was dropped, and from all appearances subsequent relationships with the Church have been amicable. However, the most recent statement I have found relating to the position of the Church on members joining Masonry appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune in 1992 largely echoes the words of President Ivins (P. Scarlet, Masons Use Service):
      “There is no specific Mormon prohibition of Masonry, but church spokesman Don LeFevre said the church discourages its members from joining it or similar groups.
      ‘The church strongly advises its members not to affiliate with organizations that are secret, oath-bound, or would cause them to lose interest in church activities,” he said. “Local leaders have the autonomy to determine whether members who belong to secret or oath-bound organizations should be advanced in the priesthood or called to positions of authority.”
      In the same year, however, Kenneth W. Godfrey gave the following positive assessment of Masonry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (Freemasonry and the Temple, 2:529):
      “The philosophy and major tenets of Freemasonry are not fundamentally incompatible with the teaching, theology, and doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. Both emphasize morality, sacrifice, consecration, and service, and both condemn selfishness, sin, and greed. Furthermore, the aim of Masonic ritual is to instruct — to make truth available so that man can follow it.”
      Although not considered authoritative in doctrine, two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles served as advisers to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism project, and four members of the Quorum of Seventy also were given assignments related to it (see D. H. Ludlow, Encyclopedia, Acknowledgments).
      No numbers exist for the number of LDS Masons in Utah and elsewhere, so I cannot substantiate your belief that “many, many” members of the Church have joined the organization. However, it is significant that in 2008, Glen A. Cook, an LDS Mason and a graduate of BYU Law School, became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Utah.

      • I should have included the following important perspective of Brigham Young in my reply above. In Wilford Woodruff’s journal for 19 August 1860, an account is given of a meeting where Brigham Young lamented the participation of Masons in the death of Joseph Smith and expressed his view that the movement to establish a Lodge in Utah was tainted by the efforts of some “to get an influence with some here to lay a plan to try to murder me and the leaders of the Church.” Lucius N. Scovil and Elder George A. Smith had apparently been among those advocating the idea of “go[ing] to England and obtain[ing] five Charters for Lodges, which would give us a Grand Lodge which would make us independent of all other Grand Lodges in the world.” President Young admitted that “this could be done, but I do not think he [George A. Smith] would be willing to mingle with our Enemies to the injury of this people.” Young continued:
        “I have no doubt but this thing could be done and we could take our young men into the Lodge. But then I would ask what good could it do? What good could result from it? I think no good at all. The truth is we have got to look to [the] Lord God of Israel to sustain us and not to any institution or kingdom of people upon the earth except the kingdom of God. And I ask no odds of any man, or set of men, beneath the heavens except the Lord and His saints.”
        President Young’s view should be considered in light of his view that some Masons had been involved in the murder of Joseph Smith and the difficult relationship between the Saints and others in the valley at the time the statement was made. His concerns do not seem to be about the institution or philosophy of Masonry itself, but rather about the motives of some of those individuals who belonged to it, and his view that it was vain to hope that joining with the Masons could serve an instrumental purpose in protecting the Saints from their enemies.

      • Fascinating article! I stumbled upon this obviously a little later so I don’t know if you will get my reply, but have you heard anything about members joining freemasonry from any current prophet or apostle (weather it is discouraged still or not)? In my current calling I have access to handbook 1 but I couldn’t find anything in there on the subject other then something to the effect of make sure all civic engagements are with worthwhile organizations. But in my search I haven’t found anything from the church (official or otherwise) directly addressing this topic. Thank you!

  10. Fascinating articles like this by Jeff and his thoughtful and educated reply to a critical comment is what make the Interpreter easily the best LDS blog anywhere. Thanks to the editors and all who contribute in making the Interpreter such a wonderful and interesting tool in studying LDS doctrine, philosophy and history.

  11. Thanks you Jeff. I thoroughly enjoy reading your insights into the temple. This article was of great interest to me since my maternal grandfather was a mason.

  12. I propose that this be adopted as the Temple Prep curriculum. All in favor say “aye”.
    This is brilliant, thank you.
    Mark Clifford

  13. Out of those 191 footnotes, how many of these come from Masonic sources?
    I am dismayed that, for an article entitled “Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances,” Bradshaw places so little emphasis on Freemasonry. His lack of engagement with the chain of influence is of primary concern.
    Despite the overabundance of ancient parallels to modern temple ritual, this article holds little explanatory power regarding Masonic connection with LDS ritual.

    • Hi, Cheryl. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment o the article. I know that these topics are a focus of your own study, and would welcome any specific suggestions on how to improve the article.
      RE #1: As requested, here is a list of the sources on Masonry explicitly listed in the article (excluding references on Mormonism and Masonry) which, though not as numerous as could have been included, are a representative (though small) sample of the many that have been consulted in the preparation of the article. If you are aware of sources on Masonry with new information that could have materially affected the conclusions of this article or the accuracy of the descriptions of Masonry presented herein, it would be a welcome service to our readers (and to me) if you would share them so relevant corrections can be made:
      Anderson, James. 1723. The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734). An Online Electronic Edition. Online electronic edition ed. Faculty Publications, University of Nebraska Libraries 25. Philadelphia, PA: Franklin, Benjamin, 1734. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=libraryscience. (accessed March 28, 2015).
      Bérage. Les Plus Secrets Mystères des Hauts Grades de la Maçonnerie Dévoilés, ou le Vrai Rose-Croix, Traduit de l’Anglois; Suivi du Noachite, Traduit de l’Allemand. Jerusalem, 1766. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=RKpiXLrpI8sC. (accessed June 3, 2015).
      Bogdan, Henrik, and Jan A. M. Snoek, eds. Handbook of Freemasonry. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 8, ed. Carole M. Cusack and James R. Lewis. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
      de Hoyos, Arturo, and David Bernard. Light on Masonry: The History and Rituals of America’s Most Important Masonic Exposé. Washington, DC: Scottish Rite Research Society, 2008.
      Hackett, David G. That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2014.
      Introvigne, Massimo. “Freemasonry and new religious movements.” In Handbook of Freemasonry, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A. M. Snoek. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 8, eds. Carole M. Cusack and James R. Lewis, 306–18. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
      Mollier, Pierre. “Freemasonry and Templarism.” In Handbook of Freemasonry, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A. M. Snoek. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 8, eds. Carole M. Cusack and James R. Lewis, 82–99. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
      Prescott, Andrew. “The old charges.” In Handbook of Freemasonry, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A. M. Snoek. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 8, eds. Carole M. Cusack and James R. Lewis, 33–49. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
      Snoek, Jan A. M. “Freemasonry and women.” In Handbook of Freemasonry, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A. M. Snoek. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 8, eds. Carole M. Cusack and James R. Lewis, 407–21. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
      ———. Initiating Women in Freemasonry: The Adoption Rite. Aries Book Series: Texts and Studies in Western Esotericism 13, ed. Marco Pasi. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.
      ———, and Henrik Bogdan. “The history of Freemasonry: An overview.” In Handbook of Freemasonry, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A. M. Snoek. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 8, eds. Carole M. Cusack and James R. Lewis, 13–32. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
      Town, Salem. A System of Speculative Masonry in Its Origin, Patronage, Dissemination, Princples, Duties, and Ultimate Designs, Laid Open for the Examination of the Serious and Candid: Being a Course of Lectures Exhibited before the Grand Chapter of the State of New York at Their Annual Meetings, Held in Temple Chapter Room, in the City of Albany. Salem, NY: Dodd and Stevenson, 1818. http://books.google.com/books?id=kSoiAAAAMAAJ. (accessed April 18, 2015).
      Van Pelt, Robert Jan. “Freemasonry and Judaism.” In Handbook of Freemasonry, edited by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A. M. Snoek. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 8, eds. Carole M. Cusack and James R. Lewis, 188-232. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
      What is Freemasonry? In Grand Lodge of Alberta. http://www.mhebf.com/freemasonry.html. (accessed March 28, 2015).
      RE #2: Regarding your concern about lack of engagement with the chain of influence, I appreciate the fact that this is an important issue and one that must be dealt with. With respect to the origins of Masonry, I cite Van Pelt in support of his “chain of influence” argument that Old Testament allusions in Masonic ritual come largely by way of a “Christian legacy.” With respect to elements in Mormon temple ordinances that are identical or similar to ones used in Masonic ritual and which through his prophetic gifts were selected and adapted for use in temple ordinances, I affirm in the article that they were initially known to Joseph Smith from his interaction with Masonry and the Bible (and, in some cases, from personal revelatory experiences and efforts in scripture translation) rather than from any direct familiarity with ancient sources. Indeed, I quote Nibley in endnote 43 to make the point that the very lack of availability of most of these sources to Joseph Smith makes the restoration of temple ordinances all the more marvelous. If I have mistakenly made any assertions to the contrary, please let me know and I will correct them accordingly.
      RE #3: I hope that the clarifications I made above with respect to #2 helps satisfy any concerns you may have that I have not taken direct connections between Masonry and LDS ritual seriously. Such connections are obvious and significant, and I discuss their significance at a few different points in the article. I want to make clear that the purpose of including ancient parallels in the article is not to claim that the Prophet derived modern ordinances from these ancient sources, but rather to summarize what limited arguments can be made from current evidence for the plausibility of his claim that temple ordinances go back to the beginning by giving a few examples of elements in temple ritual from Israel, early Christianity, and elsewhere in the ancient Near East that have rough analogues to components of modern Mormon temple ordinances (and in some but not all cases also to components of Masonic ritual). Admittedly, in some cases, Mormon temple ordinances reuse or adapt forms, patterns and wording that are closer to the Masonic ritual of Joseph Smith’s time than anything that can now be found in earlier versions of Masonry or in more ancient sources. However, it is interesting when we find elements of the modern temple ordinances resemble more closely earlier versions of the rituals of Freemasonry than what Joseph Smith could have known — e.g., an explicit recital of the events of Creation rather than brief allusions (thanks to Joe Steve Swick for this example). Examples like this are especially intriguing when they also better match ancient Near East practices than versions of Masonic ritual that would have been contemporary to Joseph Smith.

  14. This is a rave review.
    Bradshaw’s incisive Mormon scholarship (perhaps even decisive, b/c definitive), is written with the courtesy of clarity. He handles a. sacred subject combining the footnotes of a Nibley with the grace of C.S. Lewis. His is the kind of Gospel intellect that in being so adroitly employed can help build the Kingdom by stimulating our love of the Lord with all our minds.
    I’m just saying . . . .

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All comments are moderated to ensure respectful discourse. It is assumed that it is possible to disagree agreeably and intelligently and comments that intend to increase overall understanding are particularly encouraged. Individual authors are given the option to disallow commenting or end commenting after a certain period at their discretion.

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