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Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsLuschin, Immo, Richard O. Cowan, Arthur D. Haycock, Robert L. Simpson, Hugh W. Nibley, and Stephen D. Ricks
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsTemple Worship
Citation Key611

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[The articles included under this entry are: Temples: Latter-Day Saint Temple Worship and Activity Temples: History of LDS Temples from 1831 to 1990 Temples: LDS Temple Dedications Temples: Administration of Temples Temples: Meanings and Functions of Temples Temples: Temples Through the Ages The first four articles pertain to temples in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint tradition. See also Endowment Houses; Kirtland Temple; Freemasonry and the Temple; Nauvoo Temple; and Salt Lake Temple.The fifth article treats the meanings and functions of temples in world religions generally, and the concluding article discusses ancient temples in particular, including the continuities between ancient Israelite and Latter-day Saint temples.

See also Baptism for the Dead; Endowment; Genealogy, Family History; Garments; Holy of Holies; Marriage: Eternal Marriage; Prayer Circle; Salvation of the Dead; Sealing; Temple Ordinances; and Washings and Anointings.]

Temples: Latter-Day Saint Temple Worship and Activity


Performing ordinances and seeking the will of the Lord in the temple are a sacred and meaningful form of worship in Latter-day Saint religious life. In the temple, holy truths are taught and solemn covenants are made in the name of Jesus Christ, both by the individual members on their own behalf and as proxies on behalf of others who have died (the latter have the choice in the spirit world to accept or reject such vicarious service). Obedience to temple covenants and reverence in doing temple ordinances give peace in this world and the promise of eternal life in the world to come.

There are special areas inside each temple for the various ordinances. A large baptismal font supported on the backs of twelve sculpted oxen (cf. 1 Kgs. 7:25) is used for baptism for the dead. In other areas are cubicles in which individuals are ritually washed and anointed before endowments can be performed. In the older temples, larger rooms are decorated to represent the Creation, the Garden of Eden, this world, and the Terrestrial Kingdom, and in such Endowment rooms, participants watch and hear figurative presentations in which scenes are acted out, depicting by whom and why the earth was created and how one may come to dwell again in God's presence. The participants make covenants and receive promises and blessings. This is known as receiving one's Endowment. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that this Endowment was necessary to empower one "to overcome all things" (TPJS, p. 91). A veil symbolically divides the terrestrial room from the celestial room, which suggests through furnishings and decor the peace, beauty, and glory of the highest degree of heaven. Also in the temple are smaller sealing rooms, where temple marriages and sealings are solemnized for the living and vicariously for the dead. A temple may also have an upper room where solemn assemblies can be convened.

The first visit to the temple for one's own Endowment is a major event in the life of a Latter-day Saint. (Children enter the temple only to be sealed to their parents or, after age twelve, to be baptized for the dead.) Full-time missionaries receive their Endowment shortly before they begin to serve; other members generally do so shortly before temple marriage or, if unmarried, at a mature time in life. All Latter-day Saints attending a temple must be worthy, and the men must hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.

After receiving his or her personal Endowment, a Church member is encouraged to return often to re-experience the same ordinances on behalf of persons who have died without receiving them. The temple goer stands as a proxy for a person of his or her gender on each visit to the temple. This selfless service of "Saviours on mount Zion" (cf. Obad. 1:21) is rooted in faith in the literal resurrection and afterlife of all human beings.

After being dedicated, LDS temples are not open to the public but are restricted to Latter-day Saints. Even among themselves, Latter-day Saints do not talk about the details of the temple ceremony outside the Temple, because they are sacred. In the temple, worshipers go through several steps that symbolize withdrawal from the world and entrance into the abode of deity. They present their temple recommend to enter, change from street clothes to all-white clothing, and communicate only in quiet voices while in the holy building. Temples are not open on Sunday, because the Sabbath day is dedicated to worshiping the Lord in homes and in Church gatherings at meetinghouses.

For those who enter the house of the Lord with "clean hands, and a pure heart" (Ps. 24:4), with a "broken heart and a contrite spirit" (3 Ne. 9:20; cf. Ps. 51:17), and with no ill feelings toward others (Matt. 5:23-24), the temple is an ideal place to worship through meditation, renewal, prayer, and quiet service. The Lord described his house as "a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God" (D&C 88:119). The reverence in the temple is hospitable to the spirit of humble worship and holiness. In the stillness of the Lord's house, those who yearn to hear the word of the Father and to be heard by him pray silently or join in solemn supplications on behalf of the sick and afflicted and those seeking inspiration and guidance (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:30-49; see also Prayer Circle).

Words spoken in the temple Endowment give "the answers of eternity" (Hinckley, p. 37) lodged in the perspective of all God's children. The words set forth eternal principles to be used in solving life's dilemmas, and they mark the way to become more Christlike and progressively qualify to live with God. There, the laws of the new and everlasting covenant are taught-laws of obedience, sacrifice, order, love, chastity, and consecration. In the temple, one learns the sacred roles of men and women in the eternal plan of God the Father and toward each other, receives a stable perspective on the repeating pattern of life, and gains a greater love for ancestors and all mankind.

This refuge from the world is part of the fulfillment for Latter-day Saints of the ancient prophecy that "in the last days the Lord's house shall be established and all nations shall flow unto it" (Isa. 2:2). In the house of the Lord, faithful Church members seek to understand whom they worship and how to worship, so that in due time they may come to the Father in Christ's name and receive of the Father's fulness (D&C 93:19).


Bachman, Danel W., and Kenneth W. Godfrey. Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, by David John Buerger. BYU Studies 36:2 (1996-97):245-249.

Parkinson, Julia. "Twentieth-Century Temples." BYU Studies 39:4 (2000):162-163.

Parry Donald W. "Temple Worship and a Possible Reference to a Prayer Circle in Psalm 24." BYU Studies 32 (Fall 1992):57-62.

Temples: History of LDS Temples from 1831 to 1990


Latter-day Saints are a temple-building people. Theirs is a history of temples projected and built, often under intense opposition. An early revelation declared that "my people are always commanded to build [temples] unto my holy name" (D&C 124:39-40). In the last weeks of his life, the Prophet Joseph Smith affirmed: "We need the temple more than anything else" (Journal History of the Church, May 4, 1844).

The functions of latter-day temples parallel in some aspects those of the ancient Tabernacle and biblical temples, which were dedicated as sacred places where God might reveal himself to his people (Ex. 25:8, 22), and where sacrifices and holy priesthood ordinances might be performed (D&C 124:38). Although the Bible does not clarify the precise nature and extent of these rites, it is clear that sacrifice by the shedding of blood anticipated the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament uses two words that are translated as temple: naos for the sanctuary, and hieron for the general grounds and courtyards. Although Jesus vigorously condemned abuses in the temple courts, he nevertheless held the holy sanctuary in highest esteem as "my Father's house" (John 2:16) or as "my house" (Matt. 21:13). His cleansing of the temple and condemnation of abuses (John 2:13-16; Matt. 21:12-13) related to the hieron rather than the naos.

RESTORATION OF TEMPLE WORSHIP AND ORDINANCES. Latter-day Saints built their first temple at Kirtland, Ohio. A solemn cornerstone-laying ceremony in 1833 marked the beginning of construction. Over a period of about three years, the saints sacrificed their means, time, and energies to build the House of the Lord (the word "temple" was not generally used at that time). Even though the temple's exterior looked much like a typical New England meetinghouse, its interior had some unique features. A revelation specified that the building should include two large rooms, the lower hall being a chapel, while the upper was for educational purposes (D&C 95:8, 13-17). There were no provisions for the sacred ceremonies that were yet to be revealed.

Notable spiritual blessings followed the years of sacrifice. The weeks just preceding the Kirtland Temple dedication witnessed remarkable spiritual manifestations. On January 21, 1836, when Joseph Smith and others met in the nearly completed temple, they received washings and anointings and saw many visions, including a vision of the Celestial Kingdom. They learned that all who had died without a knowledge of the gospel, but who would have accepted it if given an opportunity, were heirs of that kingdom (D&C 137:7-8). This was the earliest latter-day revelation on the subject of salvation of the dead, a major doctrinal principle related to ordinances in LDS temples.

On Sunday, March 27, 1836, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. Toward the conclusion of the daylong service, Joseph Smith read the dedicatory prayer that he had previously received by revelation (D&C 109). Following this prayer, the choir sang "The Spirit of God," a hymn written for the occasion by William W. Phelps (see Appendix, "Hymns"). After the Sacrament was administered and several testimonies were borne, the congregation stood and rendered shouts of "Hosanna, Hosanna; Hosanna, to God and the Lamb!" Formal dedicatory prayers, the singing of this hymn, and the Hosanna Shout have characterized all temple dedications since (see Hosanna Shout).

Significant manifestations occurred in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, one week after its dedication. Jesus Christ appeared and accepted the temple. Moses, Elias, and Elijah then appeared and restored specific priesthood powers (D&C 110). Through the sealing keys restored by Elijah, priesthood ordinances performed on earth for the living and the dead could be bound or sealed in heaven, thus helping to turn the hearts of the fathers and children to one another (Mal. 4:5-6).

At the time when Joseph Smith was planning the temple in Kirtland, he was also giving attention to developments in Missouri. In 1831 he had placed a cornerstone for a future temple at independence in Jackson County, which had been designated as the "center place" of Zion (D&C 57:3). In June 1833 he drew up a plat for the city of Zion, specifying that twenty-four temples or sacred buildings would be built in the heart of the city to serve a variety of priesthood functions. When the Latter-day Saints were forced to flee from Jackson County that fall, plans to build the city of Zion and its temples were postponed.

In 1838 cornerstones were laid for a temple at Far West in northern Missouri. This structure was to be for the gathering together of the Saints for worship (D&C 115:7-8). However, persecution prevented construction.

The Nauvoo Temple, dedicated in 1846, was the first temple designed for the recently restored sacred ordinances for the living and the dead. Vicarious baptisms for the dead were inaugurated in 1840. They were first performed in the Mississippi River until a font was completed in the basement of the temple. In 1842 the Prophet gave the first endowments in the assembly room above his red brick store (TPJS, p. 237). Given at this time only to living persons, this ceremony reviewed the history of mankind from the creation, emphasizing the lofty standards required for returning to God's presence. The first sealings or marriages of couples for eternity were also performed at about this time. Then all such ordinance work was stopped until the temple was completed.

The main outside walls of the temple were only partially completed when Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in 1844. The martyrdom, however, caused only a temporary lull in temple construction. Even though the Saints knew they would soon be forced to leave Nauvoo and lose access to the temple, they were willing to spend approximately one million dollars to fulfill their Prophet's vision of erecting the House of the Lord. By December 1845, the rooms in the temple were sufficiently completed that endowments could be given there. During the next eight weeks 5,500 persons received these blessings even as they were hurriedly preparing for their exodus to the West. Brigham Young and other officiators stayed in the temple day and night. To maintain order, Heber C. Kimball insisted that only those with official invitations be admitted to the temple, which perhaps marked the beginning of issuing temple recommends.

TEMPLES IN THE TOPS OF THE MOUNTAINS. Temple building remained a high priority for the Mormon pioneers as they made their trek to the Rocky Mountains. Only four days after entering the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young selected the site for the temple there. Temporary provisions were made for giving the Endowment until this temple could be completed, and an adobe Endowment house opened on Temple Square in 1855. President Young explained that not all ordinances could appropriately be performed there, however, so in the mid-1870s he encouraged the Saints to press forward with the construction of other temples in Utah.

The site for the temple at St. George was swampy, but Brigham Young insisted that it be built there because the spot had been dedicated by ancient Book of Mormon prophets (statement by David H. Cannon, Jr., Oct. 14, 1942, quoted in Kirk M. Curtis, "History of the St. George Temple," Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1964, pp. 24-25). An old cannon, filled with lead, became an improvised pile driver to pound rocks into the soggy ground. In 1877 the St. George Temple was completed, the first in Utah. Endowments for the dead were inaugurated there in January of that year, enabling the Saints to perform these important rites as proxies on behalf of their forebears.

As the number of endowments for the dead increased, the basic design of temples was modified to accommodate the ordinance. The Logan and Manti temples (dedicated in 1884 and 1888, respectively) contain large upper assembly rooms and a series of smaller lower rooms especially designed for presenting the Endowment instructions. Murals on the walls depict different stages in man's eternal progression. Because of outside political hostility in 1888, Church leaders dedicated the Manti Temple first in private ceremonies. At the public dedication a short time later, members of the congregation reported unusual spiritual experiences including hearing heavenly choirs.

Completion of the Salt Lake Temple lifted the Saints' spirits during dark days of persecution. Symbolic stones on the great temple's exterior represent the degrees of eternal glory and other gospel principles. The east center spire is topped by a statue of the angel Moroni, symbolic of John's prophecy of a heavenly herald bringing the gospel to the earth (Rev. 14:6). The interior includes council rooms for the General Authorities. On the afternoon prior to its dedication on April 6, 1893, visitors of many faiths were invited to tour the temple. Such prededication open houses have grown in importance and become the norm during the twentieth century.

TWENTIETH-CENTURY TEMPLES. During the first third of the twentieth century, temples were built more and more distant from Church headquarters, reflecting Church expansion and growth. President Joseph F. Smith spoke of the need to provide temple blessings to scattered Saints without requiring them to travel often thousands of miles to the intermountain West to receive them. The temples built at this time were comparatively small, without towers or large assembly halls.

President Smith, who had served a mission to Hawaii as a young man, selected the temple site at Laie on the island of Oahu. Because traditional building materials were scarce on the island, the temple was built of reinforced concrete. It was dedicated in 1919, one year after President Smith's death. Meanwhile, construction had also begun on a temple at Cardston, Alberta, Canada. Following its dedication in 1923, Church members from Oregon and Washington organized annual caravans to attend that temple, the forerunners of temple excursions that became an increasingly important facet of religious activity for members not living close to these sacred structures.

At the 1927 dedication of the Arizona Temple in Mesa, President Heber J. Grant petitioned divine blessings for the American Indians and other modern-day descendants of Book of Mormon Peoples. In 1945 the Endowment and other temple blessings were presented there in Spanish, the first time these ceremonies were offered in a language other than English. In subsequent decades, members in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and as far away as Central America traveled to attend Spanish temple sessions in Mesa.

President Grant also approved sites for temples in California and Idaho. Although construction of the Idaho Falls Temple began in 1937, shortages of materials during World War II delayed its completion until 1945.

The rapid growth of Church membership in southern California during and following World War II led to the construction of the Los Angeles Temple, the largest in the Church at that time. Dedicated in 1956, it was the first in the twentieth century to include a large upper hall for priesthood leaders to conduct solemn assemblies, as well as an angel Moroni statue on its 257-foot tower. Architectural plans called for the angel to face southeast, as did the temple itself. President David O. McKay, however, insisted that the statue be turned to face due east. Most (but not all) LDS temples face east, symbolic of the anticipated second coming of Christ, which Jesus compared to the dawning in the east of a new day (Matt. 24:27). Members in California regarded this temple as the fulfillment of Brigham Young's prophecy that the shores of the Pacific would one day be overlooked from the Lord's house, and that temples would have a central tower and would feature reflecting ponds and have plantings on their roofs.

THE FIRST OVERSEAS TEMPLES. The decision to build temples abroad signaled a new emphasis. Although for decades Church leaders had counseled the overseas Saints not to gather to America, but to build up the Church where they were, the blessings of the temple were not available in their homelands. The Swiss Temple near Bern in 1955 and the New Zealand and London temples in 1958 partially met this need. The use of film and projectors allowed the Endowment ordinance to be presented in one place of instruction rather than in a series of muraled rooms. President McKay had announced that future temples would be smaller, so that more of them could be built around the world. Furthermore, on film, these ceremonies could be presented in several languages with only a small group of attending temple ordinance workers.

Those responsible for locating these temples were convinced that they had divine assistance. Swiss Mission officials experienced prolonged difficulties in acquiring a site they had selected and petitioned the Lord for help. Immediately they found a larger site at half the cost; they soon learned that the original site was rendered useless by the unexpected construction of a highway through one portion of the lot. When the original price asked for the New Zealand temple plot seemed excessive, attorneys representing the owners and the Church reviewed the matter and independently arrived at exactly the same lower figure. Engineers cautioned against building the London Temple on the ground selected by President McKay because it was too swampy, but bedrock was discovered at the proper depth to support the foundations.

MODERN TEMPLES IN NORTH AMERICA. During the decade 1964-1974, four more temples were dedicated in the United States. The Oakland Temple (1964) had been eagerly anticipated by the Saints in northern California. Forty years earlier, Elder George Albert Smith had spoken while in San Francisco of the day when a beautiful temple would surmount the East Bay hills and be a beacon to ships sailing through the Golden Gate. During World War II property became available high in the Oakland Hills. However, two decades passed before Church growth in the area warranted construction of a temple. The Oakland Temple now uses film projection to present the Endowment ceremony. Three spacious rooms allow large groups to receive these instructions simultaneously.

Even though early leaders had spoken of future temples in Ogden and Provo, the 1967 announcement of these two Utah temples came as a surprise to many Latter-day Saints. Church leaders explained that the Salt Lake Temple was being used beyond its capacity, so building two new nearby temples would ease the pressure and also reduce travel time for the Saints in Ogden and Provo. When the temples were completed five years later, each featured six Endowment rooms, enabling a new group to begin the presentation every twenty minutes for up to sixty sessions daily.

The Washington D.C. Temple not only met the needs of Saints living in the eastern United States and Canada but, located close to the U.S. capital, became a monument to the restored Church. Architects designed it as a modern and easily recognizable adaptation of the familiar six-towered pattern of the Salt Lake Temple. Its 289-foot east central spire is tallest of any LDS temple in the world. The Washington Temple included a complex of six Endowment rooms, and it became the second twentieth-century temple to have the large upper-level priesthood assembly room.

During the 1970s, the Arizona Temple and several other temples were remodeled to utilize film projection in presenting the Endowment. Because these renovations were extensive, open houses were held for visitors prior to rededication of the temples. During this same decade, construction began on three other large temples in North America: the Seattle Temple (dedicated in 1980), first in the U.S. Pacific Northwest; the Jordan River Temple (1981), second in the Salt Lake Valley; and the Mexico City Temple (1983), which features a Mayan architectural style. While at the dedication of the Mexico City Temple, Elder Ezra Taft Benson was impressed to emphasize the Book of Mormon-a theme that later characterized his administration as President of the Church.

WORLDWIDE EXPANSION. In 1976 two revelations (now D&C 137 and 138) were added to the standard works. One recorded Joseph Smith's 1836 vision of the Celestial Kingdom. The other was an account of President Joseph F. Smith's 1918 vision of the Savior's organizing the righteous to preach his gospel in the world of departed spirits. Both contributed to the Saints' comprehension of salvation for the dead, and provided new stimulus for unprecedented temple building.

Plans had already been announced for temples in Sao Paulo and Tokyo-the first in South America and Asia, respectively. Then, in 1980, a dramatic acceleration came when the First Presidency announced that seven new temples were to be built. These included the first temple in the southeastern United States, two more temples in South America, and four in the Pacific. The following year, plans for nine more temples were announced-two each in the United States, Europe, and Latin America; plus a temple each in Korea, the Philippines, and South Africa. By 1984, plans to build ten additional temples were announced, including one in the German Democratic Republic. These temples were smaller than most built in earlier decades. Since many were built at the same time, they are of similar design.

Most of these new temples were located where they could make temple blessings available to the living even though they might not contribute large numbers of ordinances for the dead. More than ever before, temples were within the reach of Latter-day Saints living around the world, who greeted the construction of these temples with gratitude and joy. When President Spencer W. Kimball announced the intention to build the Sao Paulo Temple, for example, there was an audible gasp that swept the huge congregation gathered for the Brazil area conference; tears flowed freely as families throughout the hall embraced one another at the news. Church leaders suggested that rather than sacrificing lifetime earnings to reach a distant temple, members would now need to make a different kind of sacrifice-finding time for regular attendance at their temple.

Latter-day Saints expect that this rapid expansion of temple building will continue. Sacred temple ordinances are to be made available to all. Brigham Young prophesied that during the Millennium there would be thousands of temples dotting the earth. At that time, tens of thousands of the faithful are to enter and perform sacred ordinances around the clock.

TEMPLE BLESSINGS FOR THE DEAD. When the Saints in Nauvoo performed vicarious baptisms for close relatives, information on them was readily accessible. More difficult genealogical research became necessary, however, as Church members met their responsibility to provide temple blessings for all deceased ancestors as far back as they could trace them. The introduction of endowments for the dead in 1877, which took far more time than baptisms, represented a significant expansion in Church members' temple commitment.

Heretofore the Saints had performed vicarious ordinances only for their own deceased relatives or friends. While directing the unfolding of the vicarious service at the St. George Temple, however, Elder Wilford Woodruff declared that the Lord would allow members to help one another in this important work.

A further innovation came during the early twentieth century when those living in faraway mission fields were allowed to send names of deceased loved ones to the temple where other proxies would perform the ordinances. Church leaders then exhorted members living near a temple to take time to perform this unselfish service. In the Salt Lake Temple, for example, there had been at first only one Endowment session per day. By 1921, however, that increased to four, and in 1991 to ten.

With the growing number of temples, the number of endowments performed increased. Beginning in the 1960s, therefore, Church leaders directed genealogical society of Utah employees to obtain names from microfilmed vital records and make them available for temple work. By the early 1970s, three-fourths of all names for temple ordinances were being submitted in this manner.

To facilitate the members assuming a greater share in providing names for the temples, in 1969 they were permitted to submit names individually rather than only in family groups. Computers could then assist in determining family relationships. Beginning in 1978, small groups of Church members were called to spend a few hours each week in the name extraction program copying names and data from microfilm records. In this way most names for temple work were supplied by members rather than by professionals at Church headquarters. In 1988 the 100 millionth Endowment for the dead was performed; over five million were accomplished that year.

THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. As did ancient Israel, Latter-day Saints regard temples as sacred places set apart where they can go to draw close to God and receive revelations and blessings from him (D&C 97:15-17;110:7-8). The physical structure as such is not the source of its holiness. Rather, the character of those who enter and the sacred ordinances and instructions received there nurture the spiritual atmosphere found in the temple. When members enter this holy house and center their thoughts on serving others, their own understandings are clarified and solutions to personal problems are received.

Because of the spiritual nature of temple activity, personal preparation is essential. Latter-day Saints insist that temple ceremonies are sacred. This is consistent with ancient practice when, for example, only specifically qualified persons were admitted into the holiest precincts of the Tabernacle. The function of local Church leaders in issuing temple recommends is not only to establish the individual's worthiness and preparation but also to assure the sanctity of the temple.

Temples: LDS Temple Dedications


A temple dedication is a supremely sacred ceremonial enactment in the Church, which consecrates the building to the Lord before the beginning of temple ordinance work. From the time of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in 1836 until 1990, forty-six LDS temples have been dedicated.

The dedication of a temple is a time of great rejoicing and spiritual celebration. Men, women, and sometimes children who live within the area to be served by the temple and have temple recommends are invited to sessions held within, or adjacent to, the temple. These ceremonies are repeated several times to accommodate all who can participate. Most come in the spirit of fasting and prayer. The ceremonies include sacred choral anthems, such as Evan Stephens's "Holiness Becometh the House of the Lord," and special addresses from the General Authorities. A formal dedicatory prayer is offered under apostolic authority. Historically these prayers encompass the whole sweep of the modern dispensation, invoking divine blessings on all mankind, living and dead. They have often been prophetic of world events (see D&C 109).

At some point in all temple dedications the congregation rises and, while waving white handkerchiefs, unites in the shout "Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna, to God and the Lamb" three times (see Hosanna Shout). This solemn expression was introduced by Joseph Smith at Kirtland (see D&C 19:37; 36:3; 39:19). It is reminiscent of the praise of the followers of Jesus as he descended the Mount of Olives ( Matt. 21:1-11), and of the outcry of the multitudes in America while surrounding the temple in the land Bountiful: "Blessed be the name of the Most High God" ( 3 Ne. 11:17); it also parallels the "praising and thanking the Lord" by voices and instruments at the dedication of Solomon's temple ( 2 Chr. 5:11-14).

The dedication of a temple is ultimately the dedication of people. In the spirit of sacrifice, they build it, and in the same spirit they perform sacred ordinances within it. The dedication sets the building apart from all other Church edifices. It becomes a consecrated sanctuary not for regular Sabbath worship sessions but for daily performances of temple ordinances.

All the gifts of the Spirit and of the holy priesthood mentioned in scripture have been manifest at one time or another in the spiritual outpourings attending temple dedications, including visions, revelations, healings, discernment, and prophecy; and likewise the fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, faith. For Latter-day Saints on such occasions it is as if the earthly and heavenly temples meet and as if the rejoicing of ancient worthies mingles with that of mortals. These experiences and subsequent service in the temples lead to "the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant" (D&C 107:19). They are earthly demonstrations of celestial unity. President Wilford Woodruff wrote, "The greatest event of the year [1893] was the dedication of the Great Salt Lake Temple. The power of God was manifest and many things revealed" (Journal of Wilford Woodruff, Dec. 31, 1893, HDC).


Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel. "New Photographs of the Alberta Canada Temple Site Dedication, 1913." BYU Studies 39:1 (2000):204-208.

Temples: Administration of Temples


The administration and internal working of a temple are designed to reflect the faith of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that each temple is in every way "The House of the Lord." Only in dedicated temples can certain sacred ordinances be performed, certain covenants between man and God be made, and the promise of certain blessings be conveyed. Through them a person may more fully comprehend the purpose of earth life, the ultimate destinies of mankind, and the importance of developing Christlike attributes here in mortality.

ENTERING THE TEMPLE. All who enter the temple must come as worthy members duly certified by ecclesiastical leaders-the bishop and the stake president. The individual's temple recommend or certification to enter the temple is presented upon arrival to the recommend desk attendant. The signatures are verified and the expiration date is checked. A recommend is issued annually and is valid for one year.

Everyone in the temple, temple workers and patrons alike, is dressed in white clothing and is free of worldly ornamentation. All are encouraged to speak with soft voices and guard against extraneous thoughts and conversations, which detract from the spiritual tone of the sanctuary.

The temple is not used for Sunday worship but is rather a sacred edifice where ordinances may be performed and covenants may be made in quiet dignity, away from the cares and din of the outside world. The temple is closed on Sunday, the day in which members worship and learn in their ward meetinghouses. The temple is normally closed on Monday as well, for cleaning and maintenance work in preparation for the scheduled days of operation.

GENERAL SUPERVISION. All temples are administered under the direction of the First Presidency of the church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Temple Department under the direction of the First Presidency and with the guidance of the Priesthood Executive Council is the agency responsible for the supervision of all temples. Special attention is given to the following: Proper performance of all ordinances of the temple following scriptural patterns as approved by the First Presidency; Upkeep, maintenance, and security of temples and grounds; Technical facilities of all temples, especially audiovisual equipment and computers; Personnel relationships in all temples; Budgetary matters; Monitoring temple clothing inventories; and Operation of laundries and cafeterias in temples.

TEMPLE PRESIDENCY AND WORKERS. The temple president is selected and called to his position by the First Presidency of the Church. This is a Church calling of usually two to three years. Normally the wife of a temple president serves as the matron of the temple. The president is assisted by two counselors, and the matron by two assistants. Each temple has a temple recorder.

THE TEMPLE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL. The temple president, his counselors, the temple matron, and the recorder constitute the temple executive council. They meet weekly to do all master planning. As needed, other key personnel are invited into this meeting.

VOLUNTEER WORKERS. Each temple relies heavily on volunteer workers to assist in administering the temple ordinances. A large temple may have as many as two thousand volunteer workers. These ordinance workers, usually assigned two six-hour shifts each week, assist the patrons as they participate in baptisms, confirmations, the Endowment, and temple sealings.

All of these workers are recommended by their local priesthood leaders. Each person recommended is cleared by the First Presidency of the Church, name by name. This procedure emphasizes the importance of those selected to assist in the temple. Each ordinance worker is finally interviewed carefully by the temple president or one of his counselors who, when satisfied as to personal worthiness, attitude, and ability, sets the person apart by the laying-on of hands, thus conveying the authority essential to officiate in temple ordinances.

TRAINING TEMPLE WORKERS. The temple president is anxious that all that transpires in the temple is in complete harmony with the desires and specifications outlined by scripture and the First Presidency of the Church. The temple is a "House of glory," "of order," "of God" (D&C 88:119). Each ordinance worker undergoes an initial training program wherein the actions and words of the ordinances and covenants to be administered are memorized and rehearsed. In addition to the initial instructions, there is a continuation training to make sure all is carried out in an acceptable manner each day. All training is performed in a quiet and gentle manner.

Each shift (forty to eighty workers) begins the day with a prayer meeting that sets a spiritual tone and permits instruction for the work to follow. Usually, a few minutes of each prayer meeting are given to follow-up training. All persons assigned to train others are carefully and prayerfully selected by the temple presidency and the matron.

TEMPLE SEALERS. A sealer in the temple has authority to seal families for time and for all eternity-husbands and wives to each other and children to parents. The process of sealing families together for time and for eternity is the very essence of temple work, and an important foundation stone of Latter-day Saint theology. Worthy male members of demonstrated faithfulness, ability, and integrity may be called to be sealers in the temple. All such calls and authorization come from the First Presidency of the Church.

THE BAPTISTRY. The temple baptistry is used for proxy baptisms, living persons being baptized for and in behalf of deceased individuals who have lived through mortality without the opportunity of receiving this sacred ordinance.

The fundamental program encouraged is for members of the Church to perform this work for their deceased ancestors; however, a proven kindred relationship is not essential for the work to be valid. Males are proxies for males; females for females.

Baptisms for the dead often involve young people, ages twelve to seventeen. By appointment, they will spend two to three hours in the temple baptistery area, each person being baptized typically, for a score or more deceased persons. They dress in all-white baptismal clothing, attend a brief worship service, and then participate in the proxy baptisms. Those performing the baptism often include the adult male supervisors traveling with the group.

It is understood that in the spirit world all persons for whom temple work by proxy is performed will have heard of the gospel and its ordinances (see Salvation of the Dead; Temples: Meanings and Functions of Temples).


Packer, Boyd K. The Holy Temple. Salt Lake City, 1980.

Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord. Salt Lake City, 1968.


Temples: Meanings and Functions of Temples


The temple is the primal central holy place dedicated to the worship of God and the perfecting of his covenant people. In the temple his faithful may enter into covenants with the Lord and call upon his holy name after the manner that he has ordained and in the pure and pristine manner restored and set apart from the world. The temple is built so as to represent the organizing principles of the universe. It is the school where mortals learn about these things. The temple is a model, a presentation in figurative terms, of the pattern and journey of life on earth. It is a stable model, which makes its comparison with other forms and traditions, including the more ancient ones, valid and instructive.

THE COSMIC PLAN. From earliest times, temples have been built as scale models of the universe. The first known mention of the Latin word templum is by Varro (116-27 B.C.), for whom it designated a building specially designed for interpreting signs in the heavens-a sort of observatory where one gets one's bearings on the universe. The root tem- in Greek and Latin denotes a "cutting," or intersection of two lines at right angles and hence the place where the four regions of the world come together, ancient temples being carefully oriented to express "the idea of pre-established harmony between a celestial and a terrestrial image" (Jeremias, cited in CWHN 4:358). According to Varro, there are three temples: one in heaven, one on earth, and one beneath the earth (De Lingua Latina 7.8). In the universal temple concept, these three are identical, one being built exactly over the other, with the earth temple in the middle of everything, representing "the Pole of the heavens, around which all heavenly motions revolve, the knot that ties earth and heaven together, the seat of universal dominion" (Jeremias, cited in CWHN 4:358). Here the four cardinal directions meet, and here the three worlds make contact. Whether in the Old World or the New, the idea of the three vertical levels and four horizontal regions dominated the whole economy of such temples and of the societies they formed and guided.

The essentials of Solomon's temple were not of pagan origin but a point of contact with the other world, presenting "rich cosmic symbolism which was largely lost in later Israelite and Jewish tradition" (Albright, cited in CWHN 4:361). The twelve oxen (1 Kgs. 7:23-26) represent the circle of the year, and the three stages of the great altar represent the three worlds. According to the Talmud, the temple at Jerusalem, like God's throne and the law itself, existed before the foundations of the world (Pesahim 54a-b). Its measurements were all sacred and prescribed, with strict rules about it facing the east.

Its nature as a cosmic center is vividly recalled in many passages of the Old Testament and in medieval representations of the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulcher. These show the temple as the exact center, or navel, of the earth. It was in conscious imitation of both Jewish and Christian ideas that the Muslims conceived of the Kaaba in Mecca as "not only the centre of the earth, [but] the centre of the universe. Every heaven and every earth has its centre marked by a sanctuary as its navel" (von Grunebaum, cited in CWHN 4:359). What is bound on earth is bound in heaven. From the temple at Jerusalem went forth ideas and traditions that are found all over the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds.

THE PLACE OF CONTACT. As the ritual center of the universe, the temple was anciently viewed as the one point on earth at which men and women could establish contact with higher spheres. The earliest temples were not, as once supposed, permanent dwelling places of divinity but were places at which humans at specific times attempted to make contact with the powers above. The temple was a building "which the gods transversed to pass from their celestial habitation to their earthly residence. The ziggurat is thus nothing but a support for the edifice on top of it, and the stairway that leads between the upper and lower worlds"; it resembled a mountain, for "the mountain itself was originally a place of contact between this and the upper world" (Parrot, cited in CWHN 4:360).

Investigation of the oldest temples represented on prehistoric seals concludes that these structures were also "gigantic altars," built both to attract the attention of the powers above (the burnt offering being a sort of smoke signal) and to provide "the stairways which the God, in answer to prayers, used in order to descend to the earth, bringing a renewal of life in all its forms" (Amiet, cited in CWHN 4:360). From the first, it would seem, towers and steps for altars were built in the hope of establishing contact with heaven (Gen. 11:4).

At the same time, the temple is the place of meeting with the lower world and the one point at which passage between the two is possible. In the earliest Christian records, the gates and the keys are closely connected with the temple. Some scholars have noted that the keys of Peter (Matt. 16:19) can only be the keys of the temple, and many studies have demonstrated the identity of tomb, temple, and palace as the place where the powers of the other world are exercised for the eternal benefit of the human race (cf. CWHN 4:361). The gates of hell do not prevail against the one who holds these keys, however much the church on earth may suffer. Invariably temple rites are those of the ancestors, and the chief characters are the first parents of the race (see, for example, Huth, cited in CWHN 4:361, n. 37).

THE RITUAL DRAMA. The pristine and original temple rites are dramatic repetitions of the events that marked the beginning of the world. This creation drama was not a simple one, for an indispensable part of the story is the ritual death and resurrection of the king, who represents the founder and first parent of the race, and his ultimate triumph over death as priest and king, followed by some form of hieros gamos, or ritual marriage, for the purpose of begetting the race. This now familiar "year-drama" is widely attested-in the Memphite theology of Egypt, in the Babylonian New Year's rites, in the great secular celebration of the Romans, in the panagyris and beginnings of Greek drama, in the temple texts of Ras Shamra, and in the Celtic mythological cycles. These rites were performed "because the Divinity-the First Father of the Race-did so once in the beginning, and commanded us to do the same" (Mowinckel, cited in CWHN 4:362).

The temple drama is essentially a problem play, featuring a central combat, which may take various mimetic forms-games, races, sham battles, mummings, dances, or plays. The hero is temporarily beaten by the powers of darkness and overcome by death, but calling from the depths upon God, "he rises again and puts the false king, the false Messiah, to death" (Weinsinck, cited in CWHN 4:363). This resurrection motif is essential to these rites, whose purpose is ultimate victory over death. These rites are repeated annually because the problem of evil and death persists for the human race.

INITIATION. The individuals who toiled as pilgrims to reach the waters of life that flowed from the temple were not passive spectators. They came to obtain knowledge and regeneration, the personal attainment of eternal life and glory. This goal the individual attempted to achieve through purification (washing), initiation, and rejuvenation, which symbolize death, rebirth, and resurrection.

In Solomon's temple, a large bronze font was used for ritual washings, and in the Second Temple period, people at Jerusalem spent much of their time in immersions and ablutions. Baptism is one specific ordinance always mentioned in connection with the temple. "When one is baptized one becomes a Christian," writes Cyril, "exactly as in Egypt by the same rite one becomes an Osiris" (Patrologiae Latinae 12:1031), that is, by initiation into immortality. The baptism in question is a washing rather than a baptism, since it is not by immersion. According to Cyril, this is followed by an anointing, making every candidate, as it were, a messiah. The anointing of the brow, face, ears, nose, breast, etc., represents "the clothing of the candidate in the protective panoply of the Holy Spirit," which however does not hinder the initiate from receiving a real garment on the occasion (CWHN 4:364). Furthermore, according to Cyril, the candidate was reminded that the whole ordinance is "in imitation of the sufferings of Christ," in which "we suffer without pain by mere imitation his receiving of the nails in his hands and feet: the antitype of Christ's sufferings" (Patrologiae Graecae 33:1081). The Jews once taught that Michael and Gabriel will lead all the sinners up out of the lower world: "they will wash and anoint them, healing them of their wounds of hell, and clothe them with beautiful pure garments and bring them into the presence of God" (R. Akiba, cited in CWHN 4:364).

LOSS OF THE TEMPLE ORDINANCES. The understanding of the temple and its ancient rites was eventually corrupted and lost for several reasons.

Both Jews and Christians suffered greatly at the hands of their enemies because of the secrecy of their rites, which they steadfastly refused to discuss or divulge because of their sanctity. This caused misunderstanding and opened the door to unbridled fraud: Gnostic sects claimed to have the lost rites and ordinances of the apostles and Patriarchs of old. Splinter groups and factions arose. A common cause of schism, among both Jews and Christians, was the claim of a particular group that it alone still possessed the mysteries of God.

The rites became the object of various schools of interpretation. Indeed, mythology is largely an attempt to explain the origin and meaning of rituals that people no longer understand. For example, the Talmud tells of a pious Jew who left Jerusalem in disgust wondering, "What answer will the Israelites give to Elijah when he comes?" since the scholars did not agree on the rites of the temple (Pesahim 70b; on the role of Elijah, see A. Wiener, The Prophet Elijah in the Development of Judaism [London, 1978], pp. 68-69).

Ritual elements were widely copied and usurped. The early Christian fathers claimed that pagan counterparts had been stolen from older legitimate sources, and virtually every major mythology tells of a great usurper who rules the world.

Comparative studies have discovered a common pattern in all ancient religions and have traced processes of diffusion that spread ideas throughout the world. The task of reconstructing the original prototype from the scattered fragments has been a long and laborious one, and it is far from complete, but an unmistakable pattern emerges (CWHN 4:367).

Reconstructions of great gatherings of people at imposing ceremonial complexes for rites dedicated to the renewal of life on earth are surprisingly uniform. First, there is tangible evidence, the scenery and properties of the drama: megaliths; artificial giant mounds or pyramids amounting to artificial mountains; stone and ditch alignments of mathematical sophistication correlating time and space; passage graves and great tholoi, or domed tombs; sacred roads; remains of booths, grandstands, processional ways, and gates-these still survive in awesome combination, with all their cosmic symbolism.

Second is the less tangible evidence of customs, legends, folk festivals, and ancient writings, which together conjure up memories of dramatic and choral celebrations of the Creation, culminating in the great Creation Hymn; ritual contests between life and death, good and evil, and light and darkness, followed by the triumphant coronation of the king to rule for the new age, the progenitor of the race by a sacred marriage; covenants; initiations (including washing and clothing); sacrifices and scapegoats to rid the people of a year of guilt and pollution; and various types of divination and oracular consultation for the new life cycle.

OTHER FUNCTIONS OF THE TEMPLE. Many things surrounding the temple were not essential to its form and function, but were the inevitable products of its existence. The words "hotel," "hospital," and "Templar" go back to those charitable organizations that took care of sick and weary pilgrims traveling to the holy places. Banking functions arose at the temple, since pilgrims brought offerings and needed to exchange their money for animals to be sacrificed, and thus the word "money" comes from the temple of Juno Moneta, the holy center of the Roman world. Along with that, lively barter and exchange of goods at the great year rites led to the yearly fair, when all contracts had to be renewed and where merchants, artisans, performers, and mountebanks displayed their wares.

Actors, poets, singers, dancers, and athletes were also part of temple life, the competitive element (the agonal ) being essential to the struggle with evil and providing the most popular and exciting aspects of the festivals. The temple's main drama, the actio, was played by priestly temple actors and royalty. Creation was celebrated with a creation hymn, or poema -the word "poem" meaning "creation"-sung by a chorus that, as the Greek word shows, formed a circle and danced as they sang (CWHN 4:380).

The temple was also the center of learning, beginning with the heavenly instructions received there. It was the Museon, or home of the Muses, representing every branch of study: astronomy, mathematics, architecture, and fine arts. People would travel from shrine to shrine exchanging wisdom with the wise, as Abraham did in Egypt. Since the Garden of Eden, or "golden age" motif, was essential to this ritual paradise, temple grounds contained trees and animals, often collected from distant places. Central to the temple school was the library, containing sacred records, including the "Books of Life," the names of all the living and the dead, as well as liturgical and scientific works.

The temple rites acknowledged the rule of God on earth through his agent and offspring, the king, who represented both the first man and every man as he sat in judgment, making the temple the ultimate seat and sanction of law and government. People met at the holy place for contracts and covenants and to settle disputes.

THE TEMPLE AND CIVILIZATION. All this indicates that the temple is the source, and not a derivative, of the civilizing process. If there is no temple, there is no true Israel; and where there is no true temple, civilization itself is but an empty shell-a material structure of expediency and tradition alone, bereft of the living organism at its center that once gave it life and made it flourish.

Many secular institutions today occupy structures faithfully copied from ancient temples. The temple economy has been perverted along with the rest: feasts of joy and abundance became orgies; sacred rites of marriage were perverted; teachers of wisdom became haughty and self-righteous, demonstrating that anything can be corrupted in this world, and as Aristotle notes, the better the original, the more vicious the corrupted version.

THE RESTORATION AND THE TEMPLE. Latter-day Saint temples fully embody the uncorrupted functions and meanings of the temple. Did the Prophet Joseph Smith reinvent all this by reassembling the fragments-Jewish, Orthodox, Masonic, Gnostic, Hindu, Egyptian, and so forth? In fact, few of the fragments were available in his day, and those poor fragments do not come together of themselves to make a whole. Latter-day Saints see in the completeness and perfection of Joseph Smith's teachings regarding the temple a sure indication of divine revelation. This is also seen in the design of the Salt Lake Temple. One can note its three levels; eastward orientation; central location in Zion; brazen sea on the back of twelve oxen holding the waters through which the dead, by proxy, pass to eternal life; rooms appointed for ceremonies rehearsing the creation of the world; and many other symbolic features.

The actual work done within the temple exemplifies the temple idea, with thousands of men and women serving with no ulterior motive. Here time and space come together; barriers vanish between this world and the next, between past, present, and future. Solemn prayers are offered in the name of Jesus Christ to the Almighty. What is bound here is bound beyond, and only here can the gates be opened to release the dead who are awaiting the saving ordinances. Here the whole human family meets in a common enterprise; the records of the race are assembled as far back in time as research has taken them, for a work performed by the present generation to assure that they and their kindred dead shall spend the eternities together in the future. Here, for the first time in many centuries, one may behold a genuine temple, functioning as a temple in the fullest and purest sense of the word.


Collinwood, Dean W. and James W. McConkie. Review of Temple Theology: An Introduction, by Margaret Barker. BYU Studies 45:2 (2006):173-177.

Cracroft, Richard H. Review of Temples of the Most High, by N. B. Lundwall. BYU Studies 34:4 (1994-1995):199-203.

McConkie, Joseph Fielding. Review of Symbols in Stone: Symbolism on the Early Temples of the Restoration, by Matthew B. Brown and Paul Thomas Smith. BYU Studies 37:4 (1997-98):186-188.

Nibley, Hugh W. "Christian Envy of the Temple." In CWHN 4:391-434.

Nibley, Hugh W. "What Is a Temple?" In CWHN 4:355-87.

Nibley, Hugh W. "The Hierocentric State." Western Political Quarterly 4 (June 1951):226-53.

Nibley, Hugh W. Message of Joseph Smith Papyri. Salt Lake City, 1975.

Norton, Don E. "Temple Themes in Christian Worship." BYU Studies 47:4 (2008):158-161.

Packer, Boyd K. The Holy Temple. Salt Lake City, 1980.

Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord. Salt Lake City, 1962.

For a lengthy bibliography on temples, see Donald W. Parry, Stephen D. Ricks, and John W. Welch, Temple Bibliography, Lewiston, N.Y., 1991.

Temples: Temples Through the Ages


The center of the community in ancient Israel and in other parts of the ancient Near East was the temple, an institution of the highest antiquity. Its construction regularly represented the crowning achievement in a king's reign. Thus, it was the central event in the reign of king Solomon, far overshadowing any of his other accomplishments (1 Kgs. 6-8), and it was a crucial event in the establishment of the Nephite monarchy (2 Ne. 5:16-18). The presence of the temple represented stability and cohesiveness in the community, and its rites and ceremonies were viewed as essential to the proper functioning of the society. Conversely, the destruction of a temple and the cessation of its rites presaged and symbolized the dissolution of its community and the withdrawal of God's favor. The fall of Jerusalem and its temple (586 B.C.), along with the rifling of its sacred treasures, symbolized, like no other event, the catastrophe that befell Judah. Following the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon (c. 500 B.C.), the prophets Haggai and Zechariah persistently reminded their people that no other achievement would compensate for their failure to reconstruct a temple. Temples were so important that, when distance or other circumstances made worship at the Jerusalem temple impractical, others were built. Thus, Israelite temples were built at Arad near Beersheba, at Elephantine and Leontopolis in Egypt, and a Nephite temple was erected in the land of Nephi.

Several studies have shown that certain characteristics regularly recur in the temples of the ancient Near East. Among the features that have been identified that distinguish the temple from the meetinghouse type of sacred structure such as synagogue or church are: (1) the temple is built on separate, sacral, set-apart space; (2) the temple and its rituals are enshrouded in secrecy; (3) the temple is oriented toward the four world regions or cardinal directions; (4) the temple expresses architecturally the idea of ascent toward heaven; (5) the plans for the temple are revealed by God to a king or prophet; and (6) the temple is a place of sacrifice (Lundquist, pp. 57-59).

Latter-day Saints recognize among these features several that are characteristic of ancient Israelite temples as well as their own. For example, the sites of ancient Israelite and modern Latter-day Saint temples are viewed as holy, with access restricted to certain individuals who are expected to have "clean hands and a pure heart" (Ps. 24:3-6; cf. Ps. 15; Isa. 33:14-16; see Temple Recommend). Like the tabernacle and temple in ancient Israel, many Latter-day Saint temples are directionally oriented, with the ceremonial main entrance (indicated by the inscription "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" on modern temples) facing east. Ancient Israelite temples were divided into three sections, each representing a progressively higher stage, reaching from the netherworld to heaven; similar symbolism can be recognized in the LDS temples as well. The plans for the temple of Solomon were revealed to King Solomon. Likewise, plans for many Latter-day Saint temples were received through revelation.

What occurred within temples of antiquity? The temple is a place of sacrifice, a practice that is well attested in ancient Israel. Animal sacrifice is not to be found in temples of the Latter-day Saints because blood sacrifice had its fulfillment in the death of Jesus (3 Ne. 9:19). Still, Latter-day Saints learn in their temples to observe the eternal principles of sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit (3 Ne. 12:19). In addition, inside the temples of the ancient Near East, kings, temple priests, and worshippers received a washing and anointing and were clothed, enthroned, and symbolically initiated into the presence of deity, and thus into eternal life. In ancient Israel-as elsewhere-these details are best seen in the consecration of the priest and the coronation of the king. LDS temple ordinances are performed in a Christian context of eternal kingship, queenship, and priesthood.

The features of temple worship described above are also found among many other cultures from ancient to modern times. Several explanations of this can be offered. According to President Joseph F. Smith, some of these similarities are best understood as having spread by diffusion from a common ancient source: Undoubtedly the knowledge of this law [of sacrifice] and of the other rites and ceremonies was carried by the posterity of Adam into all lands, and continued with them, more or less pure, to the flood, and through Noah, who was a "preacher of righteousness," to those who succeeded him, spreading out into all nations and countries. If the heathen have doctrines and ceremonies resembling those in the Scriptures, it only proves that these are the traditions of the fathers handed down, and that they will cleave to the children to the latest generation, though they may wander into darkness and perversion, until but a slight resemblance to their origin, which was divine, can be seen [JD 15:325-26].

When Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple-which he referred to as "my Father's house" (John 2:16)-it reflected his insistence on holiness for the sanctuaries in ancient Israel. Neither Stephen's nor Paul's statements that "the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48;17:24; cf. Isa. 66:1-2) imply a rejection of the temple, but rather an argument against the notion that God can be confined to a structure. Solomon, at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem, said similarly, "The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (1 Kgs. 8:27; 2 Chr. 6:18). As late as the fourth century A.D., Christians were able to point to the spot on the Mount of Olives "where they say the sanctuary of the Lord, that is, the Temple, is to be built, and where it will stand forever when, as they say, the Lord comes with the heavenly Jerusalem at the end of the world" (Nibley, p. 393).

While the idea of the temple was somewhat submerged in the later Jewish-Christian consciousness, it was never completely forgotten. As Hugh Nibley points out, the Christian church sensed that it possessed no adequate substitute for the temple. Jerusalem remained at the center of medieval maps of the world, and the site of the temple was sometimes indicated on such maps as well. When the Crusaders liberated the holy places in Jerusalem, the site of the temple was visited immediately after that of the Holy Sepulcher, even though no temple had been there for over 1,000 years (Nibley, pp. 392, 399-409).

Jews and Christians who take the vision of the reconstruction of the temple in Ezekiel seriously-and literally-anticipate the place in God's plan of rebuilding a future temple, as well as the reconstitution of distinct tribes of Israel (Ricks, pp. 279-80). While Jewish life proceeded without the temple following its destruction by the Romans in A.D. 70, it retained a significant role in their thought and study. In the modern period, the temple remains important to some Jews, who continue to study their sacred texts relating to it.


McKinlay, Don E. Review of Solomon's Temple: Myth and History, by William J. Hamblin, David Rolph Seely. BYU Studies 47:4 (2008):154-157.