Ancient Israelite Temple Ritual through the Telescope of Restoration ScriptureDavid Calabro
The 2022 Temple on Mount Zion Conference
Saturday, November 5, 2022
Sponsored by The Interpreter Foundation, BYU College of Humanities, and BYU Religious Education
Many scholars, including Menahem Haran and Jacob Milgrom, consider animal sacrifice to be the quintessential temple ritual of ancient Israel. However, the restoration of ancient scripture and temple ordinances through Joseph Smith suggests that ancient Israelite temple ritual included a more diverse set of practices. Studies by Hugh Nibley, Stephen Ricks, and others have argued for the existence of a complex temple drama that included a review of the creation, the fall of man, and the redemption of our first parents through the sacrifice of the Son of God. The present study will combine the insights of these previous studies with a new understanding of the Book of Moses as an early Christian ritual text incorporating elements of a more ancient version, and thus as an indirect witness to ancient Israelite practice. I will discuss what can be extrapolated about the ancient Israelite ritual drama based on a close reading of the Book of Moses, the Book of Mormon, and the Hebrew Bible as understood by Joseph Smith in his discourses. Viewed through the telescoping lenses of the Restoration, the ancient Israelite temple was a place of instruction and of redemptive ordinances centered on the atonement of Jesus Christ, all administered in ways that resonated with the ancient Near Eastern context.
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