Relationship between the temple endowment and Freemasonry


Articles about Latter-day Saint temples

Relationship between the Endowment and Freemasonry

Summary: Important note: Members of FAIR take their temple covenants seriously. We consider the temple teachings to be sacred, and will not discuss their specifics in a public forum. Some critics of Mormonism see similarities between the rites of Freemasonry and LDS temple ceremonies and assume that since Joseph Smith was initiated as a Freemason shortly before he introduced the Nauvoo-style endowment he must have plagiarized elements of the Masonic rituals. This viewpoint leads them, in turn, to conclude that the LDS endowment is nothing but a variant form of Masonic initiation and therefore not from a divine source.

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Video by The Interpreter Foundation.

"It has always been commonly reported, and to a great extent believed, that the mysteries of the Endowment House were only a sort of initiation…of the rites of Masonry; but I need hardly say that this statement when examined by the light of facts, is altogether ungrounded and absurd.”
— Fanny Stenhouse, Nineteenth Century Anti-Mormon Author[1]

"Masonry," Church History Topics: "There are different ways of understanding the relationship between Masonry and the temple"

"Masonry, Church History Topics on

"There are different ways of understanding the relationship between Masonry and the temple. Some Latter-day Saints point to similarities between the format and symbols of both the endowment and Masonic rituals and those of many ancient religious ceremonies as evidence that the endowment was a restoration of an ancient ordinance.[2]Others note that the ideas and institutions in the culture that surrounded Joseph Smith frequently contributed to the process by which he obtained revelation.28 In any event, the endowment did not simply imitate the rituals of Freemasonry. Rather, Joseph’s encounter with Masonry evidently served as a catalyst for revelation. The Lord restored the temple ordinances through Joseph Smith to teach profound truths about the plan of salvation and introduce covenants that would allow God’s children to enter His presence."[3]

Question: What criticisms are associated with the temple ritual and its relationship to Freemasonry?

Critics of the Church often point to similarities between the rituals of Freemasonry and the LDS temple endowment

Critics of the Church often point to similarities between the rituals of Freemasonry and the LDS temple endowment and claim that since Joseph Smith was initiated as a Freemason in Nauvoo, Illinois shortly before he introduced the full endowment to the Saints (as opposed to the partial endowment given in the Kirtland Temple), he must have incorporated elements of the Masonic rites into his own ceremony. Implicit in this charge is the idea that Joseph Smith's ritual was not revealed to him by God and thus not a legitimate restoration of ancient Israelite and early Christian ordinances.

It is worthwhile to note that these critics are also often critical of Freemasonry, and thus attempt guilt by association.

Some of the endowment was developed and introduced in the weeks following Joseph Smith's initiation as a Master Mason, but other elements were developed prior to his association with Freemasonry

While it is true that some of the endowment was developed and introduced in the weeks following Joseph Smith's initiation as a Master Mason. This oversimplifies the issue considerably. The endowment and other parts of LDS temple worship developed slowly over a period of years. It did not happen all at once. Joseph Smith's critics want to label him as an intellectual thief by claiming that he stole some of the ritual elements of Freemasonry in order to create the Nauvoo-era temple endowment ceremony. The greatest obstacles to this theory are the facts that

  1. Joseph Smith claimed direct revelation from God regarding the Nauvoo-era endowment,
  2. Joseph Smith knew a great deal about the Nauvoo-era endowment ceremony long before the Nauvoo period—and thus long before his entry into the Masonic fraternity, and
  3. the Nauvoo-era temple endowment ceremony has numerous exacting parallels to the initiation ceremonies of ancient Israelite and early Christian kings and priests—parallels which cannot be found among the freemasonry available to Joseph Smith.

Furthermore, Joseph's contemporaries saw the parallels to Masonry clearly, and yet they did not charge him with pilfering.

In order to understand this issue, a few facts need to be understood:

  1. Joseph Smith, Jr. was initiated as a Freemason in Nauvoo, Illinois on the 15th and 16th of March 1842; his brother Hyrum and (possibly) his father Joseph Sr. were Masons before the Church's organization in April 1830.
  2. A few of the early leaders of the Church were Masons before the Church's organization while many others were initiated into the Masonic institution in the Nauvoo period.
  3. Masonry was a well-known and highly regarded fraternity in mid-19th century America.
  4. There are similarities between the rituals of Freemasonry and those of the LDS Temple endowment. These similarities center around
  • the use of a ritual drama—the story of Hiram Abiff is used by the Masons, while the LDS endowment uses the story of Adam and Eve and the creation (the LDS versions have parallels to ancient Israelite temple worship).
  • similar symbolic hand gestures in the course of the rituals (which also have ancient antecedents)
  • small portions of similar verbiage

Symbolist F. L. Brink suggested that Joseph Smith successfully provided an "innovative and intricate symbology" that suited well the psychic needs of his followers. [4]

Question: When did Joseph Smith demonstrate knowledge of the elements of the endowment ritual?

Joseph Smith knew of Nauvoo-era endowment theology early on in his prophetic career

Critics have noted that Joseph's initiation into Freemasonry (15–16 March 1842) predates his introduction of the full temple endowment among the Saints (4 May 1842). They thus claim that Masonry was a necessary element for Joseph's self-generated "revelation" of the Nauvoo-era temple ceremonies.

Joseph demonstrated knowledge of temple theology very early on in his prophetic career. Matthew Brown offered this timeline for consideration:

  • 16 February 1832 (D&C 76:50-70): Joseph Smith learned by vision about being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, Kings and Priests, the Church of the Firstborn, and godhood.
  • 22 September 1832 (D&C 84:18-26, 31-34): Joseph Smith learned by revelation that Moses knew of Melchizedek Priesthood ordinances that would enable one to enter into the Lord's presence.
  • 2 February-2 July 1833 (JST Isaiah 34:16): Joseph Smith learned that none of those whose names are written in the book of the Lord "shall want [i.e., lack] their mate," suggesting the permanent sealing together of husband and wife. [46]
  • 5 July 1835 (HC, 2:235-36): The Church acquired several ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls that contained, among other things, the writings of Abraham and Joseph. It has been demonstrated that some of the material on these scrolls is related to Egyptian temple ceremonies (compare Abraham 1:26; see explanations to Facsimile 2).
  • 20 January 1836 (HC, 2:377-78): The Prophet conducted a marriage ceremony "after the order of heaven." The couple took each other by the hand, and the Prophet invoked upon them "the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
  • 3 April 1836 (D&C 110): Keys pertaining to the temple ordinances that were eventually practiced in the Nauvoo period were restored to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple.
  • 15 March 1839 (HC, 3:286): Joseph Smith informed a member of the Church" "I never have had [an] opportunity to give [the Saints] the paln that God has revealed unto me."
  • 27 June 1839 (WJS, 6): The Prophet made the first of several known references to methods of discerning between spiritual beings sent from God and deceptive spirits who attempt to pass themselves off as heavenly messengers. These methods were considered to be some of "the keys of the kingdom of God." The Prophet's teachings are now published in section 129 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
  • 18 June 1840 (HC, 4:137): Joseph Smith stated his desire to continue translating the Egyptian papyrus scrolls obtained by the Church in 1835.
  • 15 August 1840 (WJS, 37, 49; HC, 4:231): During a funeral sermon the Prophet read 1 Corinthians 15:29 and announced that baptism for the dead would be practiced in the Nauvoo Temple.
  • 31 August 1840 (HC, 4:184-87): The First Presidency stated in a general letter to all Latter-day Saints that the priesthood was yet to be established in its fullness and the Kingdom of God built up in all of its glory. They announced that they had been given "the pattern and design" to accomplish this and emphasized that everything the Saints had accomplished so far would pale in comparison to what was about to occur. In connection with this they spoke of the necessity of building the Nauvoo Temple.
  • 19 January 1841 (D&C 124:28, 34, 38-41, 95, 97): The Lord revealed that the fullness of the priesthood would be restored and practiced in the Nauvoo Temple, spoke of certain "keys" whereby one could ask for and receive blessings, and provided a detailed outline of what the Nauvoo Temple ordinances would consist of. The Lord also stated that the ordinances that were about to be restored were once practiced in the tabernacle built by Moses and in the temple constructed by king Solomon.
  • 5 May 1841: William Appleby visited the Prophet who showed him the three Egyptian facsimiles that are now published in the Book of Abraham and evidently showed him written explanations of their various parts. These explanations, as recorded in Appleby's journal, closely match the printed explanations that now accompany the Book of Abraham facsimiles. Appleby recorded that one part of Facsimile #2 presented "the Lord revealing the Grand Key Words of the Holy Priesthood to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and to all whom the Priesthood was revealed."[5] The note from Appleby is found in his journal a little less than a year before Joseph's initiation into the Masonic Lodge at Nauvoo (15-16 March 1842).
  • 31 October 1841 (HC, 4:443-44): Hyrum Smith informed a group of Latter-day Saints that within the Nauvoo Temple "the key of knowledge that unfolds the dispensation of the fullness of times may be turned, and the mysteries of God be unfolded."
  • 4 March 1842 (HC 4:543): The Prophet gave Reuben Hedlock instructions regarding the "explanations" that were to accompany Facsimile #2 when it was published in the Times and Seasons. These "explanations" made mention of "the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood" and also indicated that this Egyptian hypocephalus contained "writings that cannot be revealed unto the world but [are] to be had in the holy temple of God."

In evidence of these fact, we find that upon his initiation into Masonry Joseph Smith was already explaining things which the Masons themselves did not comprehend. According to one witness:

"the Prophet explained many things about the rites that even Masons do not pretend to understand but which he made most clear and beautiful." [6]

Question: Why would Joseph Smith incorporate Masonic elements into the temple ritual?

There are two aspects of temple worship: The teaching of the endowment, and the presentation of the endowment

In order to understand the relationship between the temple endowment and Freemasonry it is useful to consider the temple experience. In the temple, participants are confronted with ritual in a form which is unknown in LDS worship outside of that venue. In the view of some individuals the temple endowment is made up of two parts:

  1. The teachings of the endowment, i.e., the doctrines taught and the covenants made with God.
  2. The method of presenting the endowment, or the "ritual" mechanics themselves.

It is in the ritual presentation of the endowment teachings and covenants that the similarities between the LDS temple worship and Freemasonry are the most apparent. The question is, why would this be the case?

Joseph's challenge was to find a method of presenting the endowment that would be effective

It is the opinion of some people that in developing the endowment Joseph Smith faced a problem. He wished to communicate, in a clear and effective manner, some different (and, in some cases, complex) religious ideas. These included such abstract concepts as

  • the nature of creation (matter being organized and not created out of nothing)
  • humanity's relationship to God and to each other
  • eternal marriage and exaltation in the afterlife

The theory is that Joseph needed to communicate these ideas to a diverse population; some with limited educational attainments, many of whom were immigrants; several with only modest understanding of the English language; all of whom possessed different levels of intellectual and spiritual maturity—but who needed to be instructed through the same ceremony.

Ritual and repetition are important teaching tools

Joseph Smith's very brief experience with Freemasonry before the introduction of the full LDS endowment may have reminded him of the power of instruction through ritual and repetition. Some people believe that Joseph may have seized upon Masonic tools as teaching devices for the endowment's doctrines and covenants during the Nauvoo era. Other people are of the opinion that since these elements were previously present in the worship of the Kirtland Temple they were not 'borrowed' by the Prophet at all.

Regardless, the use of symbols was characteristic of Joseph Smith's era; it was not unique to him or Masonry:

Symbols on buildings, in literature, stamped on manufactured goods, etc. were not endemic to Mormons and Masons but were common throughout all of mid-nineteenth century American society (as even a cursory inspection of books, posters, buildings and photos of the periods will bear out.) So, assuming [Joseph] Smith felt a need to communicate specific principles to his Saints, he might naturally develop a set of easily understood symbols as were already in familiar use about him. [7]

Question: Why is confidentiality associated with the temple ordinances?

The LDS temple ceremony was, and still is, considered to be sacred, and was not to be exposed to the view or discussion of outsiders

Joseph Smith was of the view that some of the Saints were not good at keeping religious confidences:

The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them; we do not keep our own secrets, but reveal our difficulties to the world, even to our enemies, then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord? I can keep a secret till Doomsday. [8]

A few of the early leaders of the Church pointed out that one of the aims of Masonry was to teach adherents proper respect for promises of confidentiality. [9] For instance,

  • Joseph Smith: "The secret of Masonry is to keep a secret." [10]
  • Brigham Young: "The main part of Masonry is to keep a secret." [11]

This institutionalized Masonic principle was a trait that would be necessary for the Saints to incorporate into their lives once they were endowed, because certain elements of the temple ritual were considered to be very sacred and were not to be divulged to the uninitiated. This may be the key for understanding why the Prophet encouraged so many of the Nauvoo-era Saints to join the Masonic brotherhood.

Question: How do the goals of Freemasonry compare to those of the Latter-day Saint endowment?

The goals of Masonry and the LDS endowment are not the same

It is worth noting that some of the similarities between the endowment and Freemasonry which are highlighted by Church critics are only superficial. For example, critics typically focus on the common use of architectural elements on the Salt Lake Temple and in Masonry, even though the endowment makes no reference to such elements. In almost every case, shared symbolic forms have different meanings, and thus should not be seen as exact parallels.

It should also be emphasized that the goals of Masonry and the LDS endowment are not the same. Both teach important truths, but the truths they teach are different. Masonry teaches of man's relationship to his fellow men and offers no means of salvation; i.e., it is not a religion. The temple endowment, on the other hand, teaches of man's relationship to God, and Latter-day Saints consider it to be essential for exaltation in the world to come.

Question: Where did 19th-Century Latter-day Saints believe that Freemasonry came from?

It was a common 19th century belief of both Mormons and Masons that Masonry had it origins in the Temple of Solomon

The Saints of Joseph Smith's era accepted the then-common belief that Masonry ultimately sprang from Solomon's temple. Thus, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball understood Masonry to be a corrupted form of a pristine ancient temple rite. [12] One author later wrote that masonry as an "institution dates its origins many centuries back, it is only a perverted Priesthood stolen from the Temples of the Most High." [13]

It was a common 19th century belief of both Latter-day Saints and Masons that Freemasonry had it origins in the Temple of Solomon. Some modern Masons continue to hold to this idea, or believe Masonry is (at least in part) derived from other ancient sources. Although this is a minority view that has been forcefully challenged, it was the view held by the early Latter-day Saints and apparently the prophet Joseph Smith himself.

Early Latter-day Saints' views of Freemasonry

Joseph Fielding wrote during the Nauvoo period:

Many have joined the Masonic institution. This seems to have been a stepping stone or preparation for something else, the true origin of Masonry. This I have also seen and rejoice in it.... I have evidence enough that Joseph is not fallen. I have seen him after giving, as I before said, the origin of Masonry. [14]

Heber C. Kimball wrote of the endowment:

We have received some precious things through the Prophet on the Priesthood which would cause your soul to rejoice. I cannot give them to you on paper for they are not to be written so you must come and get them for yourself...There is a similarity of Priesthood in Masonry. Brother Joseph says Masonry was taken from Priesthood but has become degenerated. But many things are perfect. [15]

Thus, to Joseph's contemporaries, there was much more to the LDS temple endowment than just warmed-over Freemasonry. None of Joseph's friends complained that he had simply adapted Masonic ritual for his own purposes. Rather, they were aware of the common ritual elements, but understood that Joseph had restored something that was both ancient and divinely inspired.

Early Church leaders believed that Freemasonry was an "apostate" form of the Endowment

  • Willard Richards (16 March 1842): “Masonry had its origin in the Priesthood. A hint to the wise is sufficient.” [16]
  • Heber C. Kimball (17 June 1842): “There is a similarity of priesthood in Masonry. Brother Joseph [Smith] says Masonry was taken from priesthood.” [17]
  • Benjamin F. Johnson (1843): Joseph Smith “told me Freemasonry, as at present, was the apostate endowments, as sectarian religion was the apostate religion.” [18]
  • Joseph Fielding (December 1843): The LDS temple ordinances are “the true origin of Masonry.” [19]
  • Saints in Salt Lake City (1849–50): “Masonry was originally of the church, and one of its favored institutions, to advance the members in their spiritual functions. It had become perverted from its designs.” [20]
  • Heber C. Kimball (9 November 1858): “The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy. . . . They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.” [21]
  • Church Authorities (1842–1873): “The Mormon leaders have always asserted that Free-Masonry was a . . . degenerate representation of the order of the true priesthood.” [22]

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, "Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances"

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw,  Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, (June 5, 2015)
Joseph Smith taught that the origins of modern temple ordinances go back beyond the foundation of the world.1 Even for believers, the claim that rites known anciently have been restored through revelation raises complex questions because we know that revelation almost never occurs in a vacuum. Rather, it comes most often through reflection on the impressions of immediate experience, confirmed and elaborated through subsequent study and prayer.2 Because Joseph Smith became a Mason not long before he began to introduce others to the Nauvoo endowment, some suppose that Masonry must have been the starting point for his inspiration on temple matters. The real story, however, is not so simple. Though the introduction of Freemasonry in Nauvoo helped prepare the Saints for the endowment — both familiarizing them with elements they would later encounter in the Nauvoo temple and providing a blessing to them in its own right — an analysis of the historical record provides evidence that significant components of priesthood and temple doctrines, authority, and ordinances were revealed to the Prophet during the course of his early ministry, long before he got to Nauvoo. Further, many aspects of Latter-day Saint temple worship are well attested in the Bible and elsewhere in antiquity. In the minds of early Mormons, what seems to have distinguished authentic temple worship from the many scattered remnants that could be found elsewhere was the divine authority of the priesthood through which these ordinances had been restored and could now be administered in their fulness. Coupled with the restoration of the ordinances themselves is the rich flow of modern revelation that clothes them with glorious meanings. Of course, temple ordinances — like all divine communication — must be adapted to different times, cultures, and practical circumstances. Happily, since the time of Joseph Smith, necessary alterations of the ordinances have been directed by the same authority that first restored them in our day.

Click here to view the complete article

Question: Why is the Masonic symbol of the "All Seeing Eye" present on the Salt Lake Temple?

The All-Seeing Eye of God was not a symbol created by the Masonic fraternity and, in fact, was utilized as an emblem in Christian architecture long before Speculative Freemasonry became an organization

The claim is sometimes made by critics that since the All-Seeing Eye of God is displayed on the exterior and interior of the Salt Lake Temple[23] and the All-Seeing Eye is an emblem utilized by the Freemasons then the Mormon usage must be an indication of a connection between Mormon temples and Freemasonry.

The All-Seeing Eye of God was not a symbol created by the Masonic fraternity and, in fact, was utilized as an emblem in Christian architecture long before Speculative Freemasonry became an organization.

Latter-Day Saints as a group became involved in Freemasonry in early 1842 but, as noted in the timeline below, the All-Seeing Eye of God was a well-established symbol among the Mormons long before this affiliation.

1828–29 – “I pray the God of my salvation that He view me with His all-searching eye” (2 Ne. 9:44).

1828–29 – “under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God” (Jacob 2:10).

1828–29 – “the glance of [God’s] all-searching eye” (Mosiah 27:31).

December 1830 – “I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also” (Moses 7:36).

2 January 1831 – “Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes. . . . mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me” (D&C 38:1–2, 7).

13 August 1831 – “mine eyes are upon those who have not as yet gone up unto the land of Zion” (D&C 62:2).

1 November 1831 – “Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of Him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men” (D&C 1:1).

November 1831 – “Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you” (D&C 67:2).

31 July 1832 – “my heart is naked before [God’s] eyes continually.”[24]

4 January 1833 – “the eyes of my Maker are upon me.”[25]

May 1835 – “the scrutinizing eye of ‘Him with whom we have to do.’”[26]

29 January 1836 – “[the] Lord had [His] eye upon thee.” [27]

9 May 1836 – “they stand naked and exposed to the piercing eye of Jehovah.” [28]

May 1836 – “God is not mocked with impunity. His all seeing eye beholds you at all times. . . . His all-seeing eye surveys the whole of His vast creation.” [29]

April 1837 – “the scrutinizing eye of Jehovah is ever upon them.” [30]

June 1837 – “In vain do they attempt to hide from the scrutinizing eye of Jehovah.” [31]

20 March 1839 – “Behold, mine eye seeth and knoweth all their works.” [32]

3 July 1839 – “the God of Jacob has His eye upon you.” [33]

September 1840 – “the all-searching eye of an Omnipresent God.” [34]

January1841 – “God that sheweth mercy; having His eye at the same time directed towards His covenant people.” [35]

13 December 1841 – “Let it not be supposed that the sick and the destitute are to be denied the blessings of the Lord’s house; God forbid; His eye is ever upon them for good.” [36]

Question: Did Joseph Smith copy Masonic material in order to create the Mormon temple rites?

The Masonic rites and the temple endowment likely trace back to the same source

It is claimed that Joseph Smith copied Masonic material in order to create the Mormon temple rites. Below are several quotations from Dr. Hugh W. Nibley regarding this issue.

  • "Latter-day Saints believe that their temple ordinances are as old as the human race and represent a primordial revealed religion that has passed through alternate phases of apostasy and restoration which have left the world littered with the scattered fragments of the original structure, some more and some less recognizable, but all badly damaged and out of proper context. . . . There are, in fact, countless tribes, sects, societies, and orders from which [Joseph Smith] might have picked up this and that, had he known of their existence. The Near East in particular is littered with the archeological and living survivals of practices and teachings which an observant Mormon may find suggestively familiar. The Druzes would have been a goldmine for Smith. He has actually been charged with plundering some of the baggage brought to the West by certain fraternal orders during the Middle Ages—as if the Prophet must rummage in a magpie's nest to stock a king's treasury! Among the customs and religions of mankind there are countless parallels, many of them very instructive, to what the Mormons do. But there is a world of difference between Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews and the book of Isaiah, or between the Infancy Gospels and the real Gospels, no matter how many points of contact one may detect between them. The Latter-day Saint endowment was not built up of elements brought together by chance, custom, or long research; it is a single, perfectly consistent, organic whole, conveying its message without the aid of rationalizing, spiritualizing, allegorizing, or moralizing interpretations." John Gee and Michael D. Rhodes, eds., The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2005), xxvii-xxviii.
  • "The most consistent thing about histories of Freemasonry by its most eminent historians is the noncommittal position in the important matter of origins." Don E. Norton, ed., Temple and Cosmos (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 419.
  • "[I]t was Joseph Smith who first pointed ['patternism'] out, recalling a common heritage from what he calls the archaic religion, coming down from Adam in such institutions as Freemasonry, and clearly pointing out their defects as time produced its inevitable corruption. What he himself supplied single-handedly is the original article in all its splendor and complexity." Don E. Norton, ed., Temple and Cosmos (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 48.
  • "Question: Where did the Masons get the ceremonies they have today? Did they come from these documents? Answer: Their ceremonies didn't come from these documents. Nobody had the texts until recently. They do give us an interesting check. The Masonic rites have a lot in common with ours. Of course in part they do have the same source, if you trace them way back. But what a different picture you see. The Masons don't give any religious meaning to them. They think of them as symbolic, as abstract. They don't see any particular realities behind them. The rites have nothing to do with salvation, but consist only of broken fragments. . . . They have been picked up from various times and places, and you can trace them back." Don E. Norton, ed., Temple and Cosmos (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 319.
  • "Did Joseph Smith reinvent the temple by putting all the fragments—Jewish, Orthodox, Masonic, Gnostic, Hindu, Egyptian, and so forth—together again? No, that is not how it is done. Very few of the fragments were available in his day, and the job of putting them together was begun, as we have seen, only in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Even when they are available, those poor fragments do not come together of themselves to make a whole; to this day the scholars who collect them do not know what to make of them. The temple is not to be derived from them, but the other way around. . . . That anything of such fulness, consistency, ingenuity, and perfection could have been brought forth at a single time and place—overnight, as it were—is quite adequate proof of a special dispensation." (Ensign, February 2007).
  • Nibley quotes the 17 June 1842 letter from Heber C. Kimball (a long term Freemason) to Parley P. Pratt in which Kimball reported that the Prophet had said, "Masonry was taken from the Priesthood, but has become degenerated." Nibley also quotes the Benjamin F. Johnson report that the Prophet had said, "Freemasonry, as at present, is the apostate endowments, as sectarian religion [is] the apostate religion." Stephen D. Ricks, ed., Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2008), 381.
  • "[T]he Freemasons . . . put heavy emphasis on the allure of Egypt and the theatrical trappings of pseudo-temples and rites." Hugh W. Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010), 474.
  • "[There are] parallels between Mormon rituals and those of the Hopi . . . . [including an] initiation ritual [regarding parts of the body and the pronouncement of blessings] . . . . Parallels appear between the language of the Mormon temple ceremony and the Hopi myths of origin . . . . Responding to someone who asked about similarities between the Mormon temple endowment and the Masonic ceremony, Nibley wrote that the parallels between the Mormon endowment and the rites of the Hopi 'come closest of all as far as I have been able to discover—and where did they get theirs?'" Boyd J. Peterson, Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life (Salt Lake City: Kofford Books, 2002), 282.
  • "an extensive reading of Masonic and Mormon teachings and history should make it clear to any reader that the former is the shadow, the latter the substance. The one is literal, the other allegorical." "What is a Temple?" in Truman G. Madsen, ed., The Temple in Antiquity (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1984), nt. #71.

Additional Reading

Many researchers have been able to point out that most of the suppposed "copying" isn't what critics make it out to be as the elements incorporated into the endowment have a place in documented antiquity. One of the best published was by Greg Kearney, a Latter-day Saint and active Mason.

  1. REDIRECT Source of the temple endowment

Question: Do the temple endowment's similarities to Masonic rites have ancient roots?

Introduction to Criticism

Some have asked if the temple endowment’s similarities to the Masonic initiation rites have any ancient roots. One Latter-day Saint writer, Greg Kearney, wrote a blogpost responding to a critic of the Church who outlined many of the similarities between the two ceremonies. The critic’s list including Kearney’s commentary will be reproduced in full below. Additionally, the author of this article has silently added more commentary and footnotes to strengthen Kearney’s arguments.

Response to Criticism

All Seeing Eye

The all seeing eye is indeed used by the Masons but also by many others. It is found on the revers of the Great Seal of the United States for example. It’s name is actually the “Eye of Providence” and has its origins in early Renaissance Christian architecture. It is a recurring motif throughout the scriptures both ancient and modern (JST Genesis 7:42; Moses 7:36; Proverbs 5:21, 15:3; Psalm 33:13-14, 18; 34:15; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 32:19; Amos 9:8; Hebrews 4:13; 1 Peter 3:12; 2 Nephi 9:44; Jacob 2:10, 15; Mosiah 27:31; D&C 1:1; 38:7; 67:2; 121:2, 4, 24). At the dedication of King Solomon's Temple, Jehovah promised that his eyes would be upon that place perpetually (see 1 Kings 8:29, 9:3[; 2 Chronicles 6:40, 7:15-16]). Called 'the all-searching eye of the Great Jehovah' by the early brethren,[38] this emblem represents God's ability to see all things (see D&C 88:41, 130:7)...According to latter-day revelation, heavenly eyes are said to represent one who is filled with 'light and knowledge' (D&C 77:4). If our eye is single to the glory of God, we too may someday be 'filled with light' and comprehend all things (D&C 88:67)."[39]

Anointing with oil

A very old practice found in Christian (Exodus 29:7, 20; 30:22-23; 40:15; Leviticus 8:12; 14: 15-18; 1 Kings 1:39; 1 Samuel 16:1,13; Psalm 133:2 and footnote 2a), Jewish, and Islamic traditions. It is not, however, found in the Masonic tradition outside of the setting of a cornerstone with wine, oil, and corn.


Both groups use them. The reference comes from the Bible. The meaning of the symbols to the two groups is different, however. The Latter-day Saint use can be traced to Genesis 3:7 (See also 1 Samuel 2:19; 22:18; 1 Chronicles 15:27; 2 Samuel 6:14 where these aprons were worn by priests officiating in ordinances in temples). “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” The Masonic usage refers to aprons worn by stone masons in quarries. The aprons themselves differ. The Masonic one is white lamb’s skin; the Latter-day Saint apron is green representing the fig leaves spoken of in the creation story.


The Latter-day Saint usage of the symbol derives from the Book of Mormon’s “Deseret” which means “honeybee.” Hugh Nibley has proposed a very plausible ancient Egyptian etymology for deseret that stems from the Egyptian term that refers to the “bee crown” of the lower kingdom of Egypt.[40]

"There seems to be some type of connection between the bee and the concept of a promised land. The Jaredites brought deseret, the honey bee, with them on the long and difficult voyage to their promised land. The land promised to the ancient Israelites was described as a land flowing with milk and honey (see Exodus 3:8, Leviticus 20:24, Deuteronomy 8:7-8, Jeremiah 11:5). This honey was sacrificed as a firstfruits offering on the altar of the Jerusalem Temple (see 2 Chronicles 31:5). The early Latter-day Saints were promised a land of inheritance in Jackson County, Missouri, and it too was said to be flowing with milk and honey (see D&C 38:18-19 [a revelation given in 1831–long before Joseph Smith joined Masonry]). Interestingly, Joseph Smith mentioned that the honey bee played a vital role in beautifying the land of Zion.[41] And, of course, when the Latter-day Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley; they named their land of promise Deseret and 'adopted as their emblem the honey bee and the hive, symbols of industry.'[42]

The bee was viewed symbolically in several ancient cultures. For instance, the bee represented 'government in good order' among the Hebrews.[43] Perhaps a comparison could be made between bees working in their hive and the temple of priests of Israel who labored 'according to their order' (1 Chronicles 6:32).[44] The bee was also used as a symbol by the early Christians. Church fathers such as Ambrose, Basil, Jerom, Tertullian, and Augistine all made comparisons between the life of Jesus Christ and the life of the bee. Some Christians even saw the bee as a symbol of the soul of man.[45]"[46]

Square and Compass

Found in both the Latter-day Saint temple and among the Masons. Their symbolic use differs in each, however. The endowment does not use a physical square and compass as the Masons do. Hugh Nibley provided abundant evidence of the use of such symbols in ancient iconography.[47] "Several architectural instruments were used by heavenly beings in the Old Testament, including the compass, the measuring rod, and plumbline. These instruments served as devices of creation as well as allegorical teaching tools (see Proverbs 8:27; Amos 7:7-8; Ezekiel 40:3, 47:3; Zechariah 2:1). The early Christians employed these symbols over many centuries in their artwork. They frequently depicted the Father and the Son in the act of creating the universe with a pair of compasses. They also portrayed scores of biblical characters in white robes that were adorned with the symbol of the square.[48]"[49]

Emblem of the clasped hands/Special Handshakes

A very old symbol of brotherly love that can be found on tombstones in New England. Found even on the graves of women who would not have been Masons. This emblem has been well documented in early Christian iconography by Todd Compton and Stephen Ricks.[50] Matthew B. Brown "argues that Psalms 41 and 73 feasibly indicate that when the king of Israel was initiated within the precincts of the temple into the office of kingship he passed through the veil of the Holy of Holies (see Exodus 26:33) and symbolically entered into God’s presence" by taking them by the right hand.[51] David M. Calabro "explores what he describes as the 'divine handclasp' in the Hebrew Bible. The term refers to a handclasp between God and his human servant that had a place in ancient Israelite temple worship. Calabro indicates it was a ritual gesture that was part of temple rite performance with a priest acting as proxy for God in close interaction with mankind. While other scholars have suggested the gesture was indicative of deity transporting mankind to 'glory,' Calabro’s research proposes the clasping of right hands while facing one another was ritually indicative of God granting access to His chosen rather than transporting him."[52]

Solemn Assembly in the Temple

This has no Masonic equivalent unless you consider a Grand Lodge meeting to be a Solemn Assembly (which Masons do not). Solemn assemblies have existed since the time of ancient Israel. They were held on Feast Day at the end of Passover (Deuteronomy 16:8), the end of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34-36), and on special occasions such as the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 7:9-11). Joel prophesied that solemn assemblies would be held in times of crisis (Joel 2:15).

Special Garments applied to initiates

The temple garments worn by the Latter-day Saints the first time they attend the temple are the same as they use every day. Priests in ancient Israel wore breeches that were an inner “garment, extending from the waist to just below the knee or to the ankle, and covering each leg separately.” They were made out of find-twined linen (Exodus 28:42; 39:28; Leviticus 6:10), and since they were considered to be one of the “holy garments” belonging to the House of the Lord (Leviticus 16:4), they could only be worn by the priests, not by any of the other Israelites. Masons have special clothing, not undergarments, which symbolically show that they come to the lodge without any material possessions including clothing. Masons do not have symbolic clothing worn outside the lodge.

The phrase: “Holiness to the Lord”

The Masonic as well as the Latter-day Saint usage of this phase comes from the Bible: “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD” (Exodus 28:36).

Moon symbol, Star symbols, Sun symbols

Mankind have been using the symbols of the heavens long before the establishment of Masons. Latter-day Saints use it in connection to their belief in the three degrees of Glory as recorded by Paul in the New Testament— who compared the three degrees of glory to the sun, moon, and stars (1 Corinthians 15:40-41).[53]

New Name given

Practice is found in scripture (Saul becomes Paul, for example). The Masonic as well as Latter-day Saint practice comes from the Bible. See, for instance, Revelation 2:17. Matthew Brown wrote:

There is some evidence that, upon their enthronement, the kings of Israel took upon themselves a new name or throne name.[54] One commentator states that “the accession ceremony in Judah included the conferment of a coronation name by the deity,” and he suggests that traces of this conferral can be seen in 2 Samuel 7:9 and 1 Kings 1:47.[55] Generally, the act of “renaming is associated with a change in the status or condition of the person receiving the new name. The giving of the new name can be a sign that the receiver of the name is coming under the authority of the giver of the name.”[56] In the Old Testament, new names are often indicative of adoption onto someone’s household and are thus equivalent to the conferral of a high honor upon the recipient.[57] In the words of another scholar, the king “receives a new disposition expressed, according to oriental custom, in the giving to him of a new name, which indicates his new, intimate relationship with the god who has chosen him, and whom he represents.[58][59]

Special Prayer circle

No such practice in Masonry. There is some evidence for the practice of prayer circles in early Christianity:

The prayer circle is also known from early Christian texts, and has been discussed at length by others.[60] In my “Temple Prayers in Ancient Times,” that will appear this year in the next FARMS temples volume, I discuss other aspects of ancient temple prayer, notably posture and how prayer opens the veil to allow one to enjoy the presence of God.

Particularly impressive are the descriptions of the prayer circle given in the Christian Gnostic works known as the Pistis Sophia and the Books of Jeu, thought to date to the second century. In 1 Jeu 41, the resurrected Christ “said to them, the twelve: ‘Surround me, all of you.'” He then instructed them to “answer me and give glory with me as I give glory to my Father,” and offered a lengthy prayer. At the end of each utterance of the prayer, the apostles, in chorus, repeated, “Amen. Amen. Amen.”[61]

One of the most remarkable descriptions is in the fifth book of the Pistis Sophia, where we find Jesus standing at the altar praying, surrounded by his apostles and women disciples clad in linen garments (Pistis Sophia 138). A short while later, Jesus commands the disciples to set out an offering of wine, water, and bread. He then stands before the offering, with the disciples behind him clad in linen garments and making signs with their hands as Christ prays (Pistis Sophia 142).

The account of this offering is also found in another Coptic document, 2 Jeu 45-47, where Jesus has the disciples, men and women, dress in linen garments and surround him while he makes offerings at the altar and prays. The scene is followed by Jesus’ instructions on how the disciples can use the signs and names to pass by both gods and angels to enter the presence of the Father (2 Jeu 48-50). In 1 Jeu 41, Jesus has the twelve surround him while he prays and they repeat after him. In the following chapters (2 Jeu 42-43, rather than 1 Jeu), Jesus asks that the twelve and the women disciples surround him so he can teach them the mysteries of God. What then follows in the text is a discussion of signs, seals, and how to pass by the guardians at the veils to the presence of God.[62]

Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood

Not found in Masonry. Obviously found within the Bible (Hebrews 7).

Blood/death oaths of secrecy with morbid gestures and words describing penalties agreed to if secrets are revealed

Mormons going through the temple post-1990 may not be familiar with these. Curses were associated with many covenants made by ancient Israelites for failure to live up to covenants.[63]

Location (possession of) Throne of the “Holy of Holies”

Masons make no claim to possession of such. Neither do Latter-day Saints. Both groups make a reference to it in connection to the Temple of Solomon (Exodus 26:33–34).

Tabernacles, Temples

In both cases it clearly has reference to the biblical usage (Exodus 26–27).


It is evident the parallels shouldn't be of concern to those that wish to see the antiquity of the ceremony and its correlative divinity. Joseph Smith tells us that the restoration is a "whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations"; but "not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times" (D&C 128:18).[64] These parallels, some gathered from across the dispensations and some that appear to be new revelations, seem to fit this pattern of restoration and substantiate Joseph Smith's claims.

Further evidence substantiating the ancient roots of temple ceremonies may be forthcoming and Latter-day Saints should be encouraged to seek out that substantiation through further research of their own or through the work of other Latter-day Saint scholars.

For another treatment of this same question from a similar angle, see the paper linked in the footnote to the right.[65]

Question: Why isn't the temple ceremony based upon an earlier version of Freemasonry rather than what existed in Joseph Smith's time?

If one assumes that any part of the ritual is based upon Freemasonry, then Joseph Smith used ritual elements known to him and his followers to teach a uniquely restorationist view

Those that make this claim confuse the ordinance of the endowment (with its focus on covenants and the relationship between God and His children through the mediation of Christ) with the presentation of the ordinance (a ritualized pedagogical dramatization which imparts knowledge in a way that can aid memory, encourage contemplation, and lead to additional personal revelation).

The trouble here is that we know that Masonic ritual practices do not trace to the temple of Solomon or to any time close to it. If one assumes that any part of the ritual is based upon Freemasonry, then Joseph Smith used ritual elements known to him and his followers to teach a uniquely restorationist view.

Evidence of the restoration of the temple rites has been documented by many Latter-day Saint scholars. Much of the endowment comes from Joseph Smith's translation of Facsimile 2 in the Book of Abraham and from revelations he received early in his prophetic career.


Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources
  • Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 36-40 ( Index of claims )
  • Scott Abbott, "Review of Mormonism's Temple of Doom, by William J. Schnoebelen and James R. Spencer," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 22 no. 2 (1989), 151–53.
  • Edward H. Ashment, "The LDS Temple Ceremony: Historical Origins and Religious Value," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 no. 3 (1994), 289–98.
  • Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 279. ( Index of claims )
  • David J. Buerger, "The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 no. 4 (1987), 33–76.
  • David John Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2002), 1–.
  • John Dehlin, "Why People Leave the LDS Church," (2008).
  • Michael W. Homer, "'Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry': The Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonismvol=27," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought no. 3 (1994), 1–113.
  • Robert N. Hullinger, Joseph Smith's Response to Skepticism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992), 99–120 [originally published as Mormon Answer to Skepticism: Why Joseph Smith Wrote the Book of Mormon (St. Louis, Mo.: Clayton, 1980)].
  • Armand L. Mauss, "Culture, Charisma, and Change: Reflections on Mormon Temple Worship," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 no. 4 (1987), 77–83.
  • Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), Chapter 15. ( Index of claims )
  • Sterling M. McMurrin, "Review of Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 no. 2 (1993), 210.
  • Keith E. Norman, "A Kinder, Gentler Mormonism: Moving Beyond the Violence of Our Past," Sunstone (August 1990), 10–14. off-site
  • Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 10. ( Index of claims )
  • Lance S. Owens, "Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 no. 3 (1994), 166–73.
  • Gregory A. Prince, Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995), 146–48.
  • Allen D. Roberts, "Where Are the All-Seeing Eyes?," Sunstone (May/June 1979), 22–37. off-site
  • George D. Smith Jr., "Review of Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony: 1920–1990, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Sunstone (June 1991), 56. off-site
  • Editor's introduction to William Clayton and George D. Smith (editor), An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1995), xxxvii–xxxviii.
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 535–547.( Index of claims )
  • Margaret and Paul Toscano, Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990), 279, 287
  • Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr."–Primary editor: COgden, with additional contributions by multiple editors. ( FAIR's Analysis of this Wikipedia article)


  1. Mrs. T.B.H. [Fanny] Stenhouse, "Tell It All": The Story of a Life's Experience in Mormonism (Hartford, Conn.: A.D. Worthington & Company, 1875 [1874]), 354.
  2. For example, Latter-day Saint researchers noted similarities between ritual clothing used in parts of ancient Egypt and the sacred clothing Latter-day Saints use in conjunction with the endowment. See C. Wilfred Griggs and others, “Evidences of a Christian Population in the Egyptian Fayum and Genetic and Textile Studies of the Akhmim Noble Mummies,” BYU Studies, vol. 33, no. 2 (1993): 214–43. For a review of other ancient religious initiation ceremonies, see Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005).
  3. "Masonry," Church History Topics on
  4. T. L. Brink, "The Rise of Mormonism: A Case Study in the Symbology of Frontier America," International Journal of Symbology 6/3 (1975): 4; cited in Allen D. Roberts, "Where are the All-Seeing Eyes?," Sunstone 4 no. (Issue #15) (May 1979), 26. off-site off-site
  5. William I. Appleby Journal, 5 May 1841, MS 1401 1, Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  6. Horace H. Cummings, "True Stories from My Journal," The Instructor 64 no. 8 (August 1929), 441.; cited in Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  7. Allen D. Roberts, "Where are the All-Seeing Eyes?," Sunstone 4 no. (Issue #5) (May 1979), 26. off-site off-site(emphasis added)
  8. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 194–195, (19 December 1841). off-site Direct off-site; see also History of the Church, 4:478–479. Volume 4 link
  9. See footnote 20 of Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  10. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 329. off-site{15 October 1843)
  11. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 5:418, (22 January 1860, spelling standardized). ISBN 0941214133.
  12. See Footnote 30, Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  13. H. Belnap, "A Mysterious Preacher," The Instructor 21 no. ? (15 March 1886), 91.; cited in Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  14. Andrew F. Ehat, "'They Might Have Known That He Was Not a Fallen Prophet'—The Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding," BYU Studies 19 no. 2 (1979): 145, 147. Spelling and punctuation standardized.
  15. Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, 17 June 1842, Parley P. Pratt Papers, Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, spelling and punctuation standardized.
  16. Letter, 7–25 March 1842, Willard Richards to Levi Richards, published in Joseph Grant Stevenson, ed., Richards Family History (Provo, UT: Stevenson’s Genealogical Center, 1991), 3:90.
  17. Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 85.
  18. Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review (Heber City, UT: Archive Publishers, 2001), 113.
  19. Brigham Young University Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, Winter 1979, 145; hereafter cited as BYUS.
  20. John W. Gunnison, The Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake (Philadelphia: Lippincott and Company, 1856), 59.
  21. BYUS, vol. 15, no. 4, Summer 1975, 458.
  22. Thomas B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873), 698.
  23. The All-Seeing Eye of God can be seen on east and west center towers of the Salt Lake City temple and also in the interior in the Garden Room (see Ensign, October 1990, 39; March 1993, 33).
  24. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in Dean C. Jessee, ed., Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and BYU Press, 2002), 269; hereafter cited asPWJS.
  25. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in ibid., 298.
  26. Statement by Oliver Cowdery in Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, no. 8, May 1835, 121; hereafter cited as M&A.
  27. Joseph Smith Sr. statement in Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals Volume 1, 1832–1839 (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 176.
  28. Letter by Parley P. Pratt dated 9 May 1836 in M&A, vol. 2, no. 8, May 1836, 318.
  29. [citation needed]
  30. Statement by William Marks in ibid., vol. 3, no. 7, April 1837, 493.
  31. Comment by William Marks in ibid., vol. 3, no. 9, June 1837, 525.
  32. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in PWJS, 435.
  33. Epistle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles signed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and George A. Smith in Brigham H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 3:394; hereafter cited as HC.
  34. Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions (Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840), 27.
  35. Article by Brigham Young and Willard Richards in Millennial Star, vol. 1, no. 9, January 1841, 223.
  36. Epistle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles signed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, William Smith, Lyman Wight, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards in Times and Seasons, vol. 3, no. 4, 15 December 1841, 626. Notice that the all-seeing eye is being indirectly connected with the temple.
  37. Line written 20 March 2019
  38. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2:32, 6 April 1853; Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 2:84, 6 October 1854.
  39. Matthew B. Brown and Paul Thomas Smith, Symbols in Stone: Symbolism on the Early Temples of the Restoration (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 1997), 140–41.
  40. Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1955), 177–8.
  41. History of the Church, 1:197, 2 August 1831.
  42. George Albert Smith, Sharing the Gospel with Others (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1948), 134.
  43. Steven Olderr, Symbolism: A Comprehensive Dictionary (London: McFarland & Co., 1986), 10. Along these same lines Heber C. Kimball said that the land of Deseret was the Kingdom of God on the earth and was "organized after the order of God, and it is organized after the order of the Church of the Firstborn" (Journal of Discourses, 5:130, 2 August 1857).
  44. For a number of years there has been a claim circulated in [Latter-day Saint] literature that the ancient Hebrew temple priests wore the symbol of the beehive on their sacred clothing. Each of those who have made this claim have stated that this information can be found in the Mishnah but a specific reference has never been cited. So far as can be determined, no such reference exists. It is possible that this misunderstanding occurred when someone misread the material found in E. Cecil McGavin, Mormonism and Masonry (Salt Lake City: Stevens and Wallis, 1947), 66-67.
  45. Hilda M. Ransome, The Sacred Bee (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1937), 144–54.
  46. Brown and Smith, Symbols in Stone, 135–36.
  47. Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1992) 139-73
  48. Biblical Archaeology Review, April 1995, 45; Clara Erskien Clemeent, A Handbook of Legendary and Mythological Art (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1881), 290–91; Maria Gabriel Wosein, Sacred Dance: Encounter with the Gods (New York: Avon Books, 1974), 104; Harold Bayley, The Lost Language of Symbolism (London: Williams and Norgate, 1912), 1:74; Bernard Goldman, The Sacred Portal: A Primary Symbol in Ancient Judaic Art (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1966), plate 18; Encyclopedia Judaica, 5:1066; Bible Review, August 1996, 37. The symbol of the square is "frequently seen embroidered on the borders of the robes of the sacred personages represented in early Christian mosaics and frescoes...The precise meaning of these marks has not been satisfactorily determined" (William Smith and Samuel Cheetham, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities [New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1968], 1:709). An example of the gamma mark on a piece of ancient Israelite clothing can be seen in Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 23, no. 1 [January/February 1997], 60...
  49. Brown and Smith, Symbols in Stone, 106.
  50. Stephen D. Ricks, "Dexiosis and Dextrarum Iunctio: The Sacred Handclasp in the Classical and Early Christian World," Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 18, no. 1 (1989–2011) off-site; Todd M. Compton, “The handclasp and embrace as tokens of recognition,” By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley, eds. John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1990) 1: 611–42.
  51. Matthew B. Brown, "The Handclasp, the Temple, and the King," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 42 (2021): 421-426.
  52. David M. Calabro, "The Divine Handclasp in the Hebrew Bible and in Near Eastern Iconography," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 45 (2021): 37–52. See also David Calabro, “The Divine Handclasp in the Hebrew Bible and in Near Eastern Iconography,” in Temple Insights: Proceedings of the Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, “The Temple on Mount Zion,” 22 September 2012, eds. William J. Hamblin and David Rolph Seely (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2014), 25–66.
  53. Scholars are unanimous in affirming that 1 Corinthians was written by Paul. See Robert Wall, New Interpreter's Bible ed. Leander E. Keck, 12 vols. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 10:373.
  54. Both in the ancient Near East generally "and in Israel the custom prevailed that the king should take a new name at his accession" (Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship, 1:63). For further reading, see A.M. Honeyman, "The Evidence for Regnal Names Among the Hebrews," Journal of Biblical Literature, vol 67, 1948, 13-25. It has been pointed out by one scholar that the new name mentioned in Revelation 3:12 has a definite correlation to ancient coronation practices. "In giving of a new name to the believer [in Revelation 3:12], we might also see a parallel with the common oriental practice of giving new names to monarchs during the coronation and accession ceremonies" (Richard H. Wilkinson, "The stylos of Revelation 3:12 and Ancient Coronation Writes," Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 107, no. 3, September 1988, 500).
  55. Gerhard von Rad, The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966), 229.
  56. T. David Andersen, "Renaming and Wedding Imagery in Isaiah 62," Biblica, vol 67, no. 1, 1986, 75. One scholar detects in the combination of 2 Kings 24:17 and Ezekiel 17:11-21 a ceremony wherein a king gives a handclasp to the king of Jerusalem, bestows a new name upon him, and enters into a covenant with him by swearing an oath (see Viberg, symbols of Laq, 37-39)
  57. See Otto Eissfeldt, "Renaming in the Old Testament," in Peter R. Ackroyd and Barnabas Lindars, eds., Words and Meanings (Cambridge: University Press, 1968), 73.
  58. Mowinckel, "He That Cometh", 66.
  59. Matthew Brown, The Gate of Heaven (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 1999), 132.
  60. For ancient Christian prayer circles, see Hugh Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” BYU Studies 19, no. 1 (Fall 1978): 41–47, reprinted as chapter 3 in Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity (Provo: FARMS; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1987), 45–99 and reproduced in Hugh Nibley, Old Testament and Related Studies (Provo: FARMS; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1986), 158–63, 182–83. For Latter-day Saint prayer circles, see D. Michael Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles,” BYU Studies 19, no. 1 (Fall 1978): 79–105, and the entries for “Altar” and “Prayer Circle” in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: Macmillan, 1992). The reader should note, however, that Todd Compton was correct when he wrote that “some of the examples cited by Nibley are not really group prayers, are not circles, and so on, though there are some similarities to prayer circles” (Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 3:?).
  61. Carl Schmidt and Violet MacDermot, The Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 92–98.
  62. John Tvedtnes, "Early Christian and Jewish Rituals Related to Temple Practices," (presentation, FAIR Conference, Sandy, UT, 2001).
  63. René Lopez, "Israelite Covenants in the Light of Ancient Near Eastern Covenants," CTSJ 9/2 (2003): 92-111. off-site
  64. Similar thought about the dispensation of the fulness of times is reflected in Doctrine & Covenants 124:41–42.
  65. Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, "Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 15 (2015): 159–237.