Jeffrey M. Bradshaw will be giving a presentation at Eborn Books this coming Friday, August 8, in Salt Lake City. His topic is “What Did Joseph Smith Know about the LDS Temple Ordinances by 1836?”
It is increasingly apparent that Joseph Smith’s early revelations and teachings evince a detailed understanding of concepts relating to temple worship. In this presentation, I will summarize precedents for LDS temple ordinances, both in antiquity and in the revelations and teachings of Joseph Smith through 1836. I will focus on three major items: 1. the backbone of narrative and covenants that relate to the liturgy of the LDS temple endowment, as revealed in 1830-1831; 2. prominent priesthood symbols associated with temple-related concepts for which we have evidence going back as far as 1826; and 3. the full sequence of blessings associated with the oath and covenant of the priesthood, given in 1832. In discussing these matters, I will be respectful of the sacred nature of LDS temple ordinances.
Date: 8 August 2014, 7:00 PM
Place: 254 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 (map)
An interesting bit of knowledge I gained as a Freemason, in pertinent part, was the references in Morals & Dogma about early Christian secret mystery ceremonies. As a Mormon, I thought: “this can’t be true, can it?” So to get more light and knowledge I started researching this issue and soon enough came across lots of references to these ceremonies that certainly sound similar to the LDS Endowment. Arguably, if the LDS religion’s claim to be a restoration of the early Christian Church (before it became the state religion of the Roman Empire) is correct, then it stands to reason that it would include these secret, sacred ceremonies. For example:
Tertullian, who died about A.D. 216, wrote in his Apology: “None are admitted to the religious Mysteries without an oath of secrecy. We appeal to your Thracian and Eleusinian Mysteries; and we are especially bound to this caution, because if we prove faithless, we should not only provoke Heaven, but draw upon our heads the utmost rigor of human displeasure. And should strangers betray us? They know nothing but by report and hearsay. Far hence, ye Profane! is the prohibition from all holy Mysteries.”
Clemens, Bishop of Alexandria, born about A.D. 191, wrote, in his Stromata, that he cannot explain the Mysteries, because he should thereby, according to the old proverb, put a sword into the hands of a child.
Origen, born A.D. 134 or 135, answering Celsus, who had objected that the Christians had a concealed doctrine wrote: “Inasmuch as the essential and important doctrines and principles of Christianity are openly taught, it is foolish to object that there are other things that are recondite; for this is common to Christian discipline with that of those philosophers in whose teaching some things were exoteric and some esoteric.”
Archelaus, Bishop of Cascara in Mesopotamia, who, in the year 278, conducted a controversy with the Manichaeans, wrote: “These Mysteries the church now communicates to him who has passed through the introductory degree. They are not explained to the Gentiles at all; nor are they taught openly in the hearing of [the uninitiated].”
St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop of Constantinople, A.D. 379, wrote: “You have heard as much of the Mystery as we are allowed to speak openly in the ears of all; the rest will be communicated to you in private; and that you must retain within yourself. . . . Our Mysteries are not to be made known to strangers.”
St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, who was born in 340, and died in 393, wrote in his work De Mysteriis: “All the Mystery should be kept concealed, guarded by faithful silence, lest it should be inconsiderately divulged to the ears of the Profane. . . . It is not given to all to contemplate the depths of our Mysteries. . . . that they may not be seen by those who ought not to behold them; nor received by those who cannot preserve them.” And in another work, he wrote: “He sins against God, who divulges to the unworthy the Mysteries confided to him. The danger is not merely in violating truth, but in telling truth, if he allow himself to give hints of them to those from whom they ought to be concealed. . . . Beware of casting pearls before swine! . . . . Every Mystery ought to be kept secret; and, as it were, to be covered over by silence, lest it should rashly be divulged to the ears of the Profane. Take heed that you do not incautiously reveal the Mysteries!”
St. Cyril of Alexandria, who was made Bishop in 412, and died in 444, wrote in his 7th Book against Julian: “These Mysteries are so profound and so exalted, that they can be comprehended by those only who are enlightened. I shall not, therefore, attempt to speak of what is so admirable in them, lest by discovering them to the uninitiated, I should offend against the injunction not to give what is holy to the impure, nor cast pearls before such as cannot estimate their worth. . . .I should say much more, if I were not afraid of being heard by those who are uninitiated: because men are apt to deride what they do not understand. And the ignorant, not being aware of the weakness of their minds, condemn what they ought most to venerate.”
And then there is The Secret Gospel of Mark which is a longer edition of the Gospel of Mark, and has been known only since 1958. While cataloguing manuscripts in the library of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Saba, located southeast of Jerusalem, an American scholar, Morton Smith, came upon a 17th century edition of the letters of Ignatius. On the final blank pages of this volume, an 18th century scribe had copied a portion of a letter allegedly from Clement of Alexandria. In this letter, Clement indicated that Mark had produced two versions of his Gospel, one for church members at large and the other for the spiritual elite who could grasp the full mysteries of the Kingdom.
Thanks for your comments, Michael!
Do we need to RSVP?
An RSVP would be helpful. Go to the Eborn Books website to do so.
By any chance will this be recorded. It sounds like it will be quite interesting.
It will be recorded, but not released till after the temple symposium on October 25.
I would love to go, but will not be in SLC on Friday. When it is released, how do we get a copy?
The recording will be posted on the Eborn website or you can go to my website at http://www.templethemes.net to find it, along with other free downloads and resources.
We are planning on recording the lecture.