Notes on the 2016 Temple on Mount Zion Conference

I’m live blogging this conference at BYU today–this post will be updated throughout the day, after each address.

TEMPLE ON MOUNT ZION CONFERENCE, sponsored by the Interpreter Foundation

Saturday, November 5, 2016
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah


9:30 – Jeffrey M. Bradshaw: “By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified”: The Symbolic, Salvific, Interrelated, Additive, Retrospective, and Anticipatory Nature of the Ordinances of Spiritual Rebirth in John 3 and Moses 6

Temple themes in Joseph Smith’s translation of Moses 6:59-63 and Genesis 17:4-7. Jesus and Nicodemus–a change of heart is needed to see the kingdom of God. “Marvel not” isn’t a scolding, but an invitation to greater spiritual learning. “Born again” can mean “born from above.” Double meanings–the serpents in Moses’s staff story to heal bitten people represent sin and salvation. “No man cometh to the Father but by me,” like the seraphim who guard the gate to the temple or to heaven.

Jesus was “lifted up,” and we can and should be, too, in resurrection and ascension (3 Ne. 27). “Second birth from above” is reflected in some early Jewish thought (see also Ezekiel 37 and 16–temple imagery).

“Born again” isn’t ended with baptism, just started–the goal is exaltation.

Moses 6:60–three clauses: water, spirit, blood.

WATER: baptism, sacrament blessing. “Stage 1” of temple (1st floor in SLC)= Moses 4 themes, 2= Moses 5, 3= Moses 6. Circumcision is close to baptism in JST Genesis. Genesis 17:3-7 in JST re: Abel and ordinances, clarifies doctrine, has ancient parallels. See David A. Bednar on priesthood ordinance being salvific, interrelated, additive. Truman Madsen: washing and anointing is like a patriarchal blessing on the body itself.

SPIRIT: D&C 20:37 explains that the Spirit cleanses, not baptism itself, which is symbolic. Justification and sanctification are twin blades of scissors–C.S. Lewis. Telestial room / baptism = justification, terrestrial / additional ordinances & consecration = sanctification, celestial = exaltation. D&C 20:30-31 teaches that justification and sanctification both come from the grace of Christ. Blood / anointing makes one both our and royal in ancient settings. British ceremony to initiate a new monarch has echoes of all this old temple symbolism. C.S. Lewis–become “a little Christ.”

BLOOD: Exodus 24 shows symbolism of blood needed to sanctify. Isaac is a substitute king before the ram–a symbol of a symbol. Neal A. Maxwell–we must put the animal *in us* upon the altar and burn it. Endowment depicts multiple births through the grace of Christ. C.S. Lewis- God turns tools-servants-friends-sons. Psalm 2:7 reflected in Moses 6 with Adam. Mosiah 2-5 has same symbolism–disciples are to become “little Mosiahs.” Alma 13 teaches high priest is symbolic of Christ. Moses 6, last verse also teaches of exaltation, leading to Enoch’s ascension in Moses 7. Nibley: scriptures aren’t platitudes, they’re things of eternity. Water in sacrament goes beyond beginning discipleship to a consecrated life: accepting prior blessings and continuing to exaltation; like Christ, must suffer, even unjustly, to serve others and lead to God.


10:15 – John Thompson: The Story-Cycles of the Patriarchs and Temple Progression

Matthew 13:34-35, things are hidden in the scriptures. v. 52–must be instructed in the kingdom of heaven. Mark 4:11–we can and should know mysteries. Origen, de Principiis, IV:i:14. 2 Ne. 11:4 also says that scriptures and ordinances symbolize truths. As in temple, there’s a 3-fold division in stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob: sacrifice, covenants and instruction, sealed after further sacrifice.

  1. Demonstrate willingness to obey (outer court of temple, telestial). Abraham 1:10. Potiphar = Shagreen, sun god in v. 9. Initial sacrifice. Isaac also starts by nearly being sacrificed. Jacob in Gen. 27:9-16 echoes day of atonement sacrifice–he puts on animal skins and becomes a sacrificial goat, and the ordinance continues.
  2. Each patriarch gets married and receives further instruction (inner court of temple, terrestrial). 7 lights of menorah = 7 planets…astronomy is important. Promises are made to patriarch depending on obedience. Need a text for Isaac to have a vision of heavenly instruction!
  3. Testing proves faithfulness and final blessings are sealed (holy of holies, celestial). Sarah’s test with Pharaoh. Abraham with Isaac, Gen. 22:14-19. Aug. 27, 1843, Joseph Smith gave a great sermon about 3 orders of the priesthood–look it up! Isaac = Genesis 26:6-12, 23-25. Jacob = Genesis 32:24-32.

These also correspond to the three facsimiles in Abraham: sacrifice, instruction, throne.



11:00 – David Calabro: The Choreography of Genesis: A Ritual Reading of the Book of Abraham

All 3 of the pictures in Abraham are ritual scenes. It is focused on gestures and cosmology. JS says that facsimile 3 has Abraham sitting on a throne and teaching astronomy. Abraham 3:15 relates to it–imagine figure 1 repeating these words to the audience, literal in the picture and us as the reader. Top of facsimile 3 has canopy decorated with stars. Abraham is an actor playing God here–symbolism. Figure 5 is only one who faces figure 1. Faces are turned to 5, bodies are turned to 1. Lamination: facsimile 3 collapses/condenses story.”Draw near to the throne” at the end of the story as you progress through reading it. Figure 5 is an initiate following Abraham’s example–figure 4 leads him along. Book of Abraham has at least 16 references to ritual gestures–none are in related material in Genesis–like in Facsimile 1 where he raises his hands. The facsimiles are choreography and commentary–Abraham 1:18–as if this is a text to be read aloud and acted out. Abraham 2:7-8 has gestures meaning that we should trust and follow God. Egyptian paintings show palm-out gestures being used to give commands. Abraham 2:9 is a metaphor, but Egyptian paintings show it literally, similar to significant temple practices. Figures 2, 4, and 5 all have their hands held up, palm out, as in oaths or worship. (Figures 22, 23 in Facsimile 2 also do this). Genesis 14:22 uses it for an oath. The picture functions on multiple levels–also tells the story of Abraham himself coming to Egypt–once he passes the limit represented by figure 3, he sits on the throne. Book of Abraham, therefore, is an example of ritual literature.



11:30 – Matthew Grey: Jerusalem Temple Imagery in Late Ancient Synagogue Ritual, Art, and Architecture

Destruction of the temple in 70 splits Jewish religious history into two distinct categories, before and after. New research suggests that priests still dominated religious life, not rabbis, until much later. Liturgy of the temple continued for a long time. 1. Early post-temple liturgy still resembled temple work. 2. Circles of influence had different ideas about how to adapt rituals for post-temple period. Framework of early communal prayer clearly reflected temple ritual. Synagogues started to replicate prayers, priestly mediation–but not sacrifices–of the temple. Priests raised hands over head to bless people. “Tamid and ‘Amidah” Liturgy looked to a restoration of the temple.

Much synagogue architecture was closely patterned on temple for centuries. Communal Torah study supplanted priestly activity, but other places may have tried to preserve it further. “The temple-ization of the synagogue” in 3rd century Syria, at Dura Europos, including a veil.

Christian churches in Byzantine period were also closely patterned on synagogues / temple (veils, throne room, priestly mediators). Some Jewish liturgy may have looked more “Christian” than rabbinic in late ancient times. Torah shrine in these synagogues = holy of holies. Josephus: temple layout represents the universe–a physical journey to the presence of God. Evidence suggests some Jews transferred non-sacrifice elements of temple worship to the synagogue.

Post-temple Judaism was more diverse than scholars have previously thought; some relied on existing priesthood to continue the temple’s rituals, prayers, and study, as shown in art, architecture, and liturgy.



1:30 – Alex Douglas: Gentiles in the Temple: Worship and Conversion in the Septuagint of Isaiah

Isaiah 19:19-21; 2:2-3; 25:6 on universal access to the temple someday. 56:6-7…foreigners will serve and sacrifice in the temple. Isaiah 26:9 – compare Hebrew to Greek (Septuagint), also 24:16…idea of converting is absent in Hebrew, but added in Greek. Isaiah 8 is a great example. Paul and Peter disagree about conversion; Paul is arrested for bringing a Gentile into the temple. Get out of the present mindset and understand the past.



2:00 – Camille Fronk Olson: Women in Ancient Israelite Temple Worship

No separate space for women in ancient temple, and no limit compared to where male non-priests could go. Daughters of Zelophehad: girls petition priesthood leader, who prays for them, no patronizing from leader for their age or sex. Hannah: 1 Samuel 1:8. Huldah: “go inquire of the Lord” led scribes to her, a prophetess; they went to her house; her word goes right back to the king; focus isn’t on her but on her words; everyone involved is comfortable with and used to this kind of event.

“rqd” is skipping or leaping as a way of dance (1 Chr. 15:29), also means a ship on water, or sifting wheat; 2 Sam 6:16 uses “krr,” which means leaping and dancing. See Psalm 150. Temple worship involved each of the senses, and focused on bringing joy into life. This dancing was done mostly by women. “hwl,” circular dancing performed particularly by women. Ex 15:20-21, Miriam the prophetess. Compare Exodus 15:21 to v. 1…does Miriam also say–or even write–the song of Moses?

Deborah, also, is presented as normal in the text. Judges 5, her song has 31 verses. Her title of “mother” here refers to leadership, not literal maternity. “Timbrels/tabrets” with singing and dancing refer to women worshipping in ritual: Psalm 68. Hannah also sings praises related to temple work, after her son is dedicated to the Lord’s work: 1 Samuel 2. Her song is clearly prophetic. Women pronounced prophetic utterance, and performed rituals where revelation was received.



2:30 – Matthew Bowen: “Where I Will Meet You”: The Convergence of Sacred Time and Sacred Space as the Etiological Function of the Tent of Meeting

Genesis often explains origin of things–example of etiology–much of it temple-related. Creation story mirrors setting up a tabernacle. Garden of Eden is a terrestrial temple. The Fall is an outer court. Abraham builds altars to “templify” the Promised Land. Genesis 22 uses sacrifice of Isaac as a precedent for the site of temple in Jerusalem (Moriah) and its sacrifices. Genesis 25-35 about Jacob’s family and “house.” Exodus 1-14 has Moses baptizing Israel in the Red Sea (see Isaiah 51). Exodus 3 at the mountain echoes Genesis 22. Exodus 25-30–tabernacle set up in 7 days.

“Tabernacle of the congregation” = “tent of meeting.” Hebrew for “meet” denotes place and date for meeting–space and time–see Genesis 1:14. 2 Chronicles 1:3 calls it “the tent of meeting God” in Hebrew, see Exodus 30:6, 36. See Exodus 25:21-22 combines meeting God with testimony. Leviticus has this, too–see ch. 9. 1 Kings 8 combines tent of meeting with temple–assembly, etc. Temple in Jerusalem is designed to remind Israel of Sinai.

Appointment “times” come up again in Genesis 18:14, and before in 17:21. Also in Abraham 3:6-7, 10. AND in 3 Nephi 1:5-9, a “day set apart,” and then v. 10-13, “the time is at hand,” to meet with God. Alma 5:28, 12:24, 34:32 on times set aside to prepare to meet God. Alma 40:4-10, Alma 45:18-19 have this phrase, too. See Psalm 102:13.

This Hebrew word “mo ‘ed” also seems to come into play when Moroni meets with Joseph Smith on the Autumn equinox, on the feast of tabernacles, and Rosh Hashanah four years later. April 3 is the theophany at the Kirkland temple–passover of 1836. Ezekiel 37, Psalm 102:13, D&C 124:6 on rebuilding temples. “Oh Joseph!” – Truman Madsen on announcement of Nauvoo Temple. Moses 7 on Zion at the veil. Go forth to meet the Lord–3 Nephi is a model. The temple *prepares* us to meet the Lord at the veil in real life.



3:15 – David Larsen: Group Ascension to Heaven in Early Judaism and Christianity

Moses 7, JST Gen 14:32-34, Zech. 3:8, 3 Ne 28:13-17, Exodus 24:9-11, Matt 17:1-9, the Church in Epistle to the Hebrews. Outside scripture: Story of Zosimus, Tosefta & Talmud (4 who entered paradise), 1st Book of Jeu.

Epistle to the Hebrews is ritualistic, symbolizing ascension and enthronement of Christ and his followers. Detailed outline of elements for “divine adoption ceremony” throughout the whole epistle.

Pattern: one is privileged with a vision, who then help others likewise ascend to the blessing of heaven–Enoch, Melch., Jesus, the “teacher” in the Dead Sea Scrolls. “Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice” aka “Angelic Liturgy” in Dead Sea Scrolls and Masada also has a ritual ascent to heaven drama.

Psalm 89 also: v. 1-14 has David as if in heaven, praising God, and 15-18 references followers who do likewise. Psalm 68:17, 24-27 group procession to temple. Also Psalm 47, also…especially Psalm 84–a pilgrimage to heaven (Hebrew “chayil” can mean army). Psalm 118 & 24 both discuss going through gates of heaven so all righteous can enter. Orthodox Church’s liturgy of Eucharistic Assembly is similar–a group “ascending” into presence of God.



3:45 – Daniel Smith: The Ancient Israelite Tabernacle, Its Accoutrements, and the Priestly Vestments

[runs YouTube channel “Messages of Christ”]

Read Matthew B. Brown, The Gate of Heaven.

Has been involved in “tabernacle camps” for youth in recent years. “How can you help people visualize the scriptures and bring them to life?”

John 10:9–Jesus is the gate.

Inner tabernacle literally made of silver, the half shekel redemption price. Showbread–making peace with God by “breaking bread” with him. Smoke of incense represents prayers ascending to heaven (Psalm 141:2). Holy of holies is perfect square, has no lights or furniture–just the ark.

Priests wear four clothing items, high priests have four more–total of eight.

*We* are represented by the gemstones on the high priest’s breastplate–the most valuable part; we’re bound to the high priest (Christ), who carries us, serves us, atones for us. Hebrews 10:16-22 says Christ is like the veil–rent for us.



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