Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Moving the Blog

I'll be living in Jerusalem for the next year, so I've started a new blog focusing on Jerusalem and Israel. I have decided to combine Pronaos with my Jerusalem blog for simplicity. I will still be posting many things about ancient temple traditions, but will also included other things I find interesting in Jerusalem. If you want to follow my Jerusalem blog, see the following:
My basic blog with numerous photos.
My Picassa web albums
Narcissistic Tweets, (whatever the heck they are).
Panorama photography.

For the next year I will rarely, if ever, post to Pronaos. When my year in Jerusalem is up, I'll return to using the Pronaos blog.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Middle Bronze walls of Jerusalem discovered

Video and text here

This would have been the wall at the time of Melchizedek and Abraham.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10,000 hits

Well Pronaos has been up for nearly a year and we've just had our 10,000th visit. (I suspect half of those are me.) Our latest guest was from Kyrgyzstan. I'm going to be travelling for a few weeks so the blog will be on hiatus until early September. (Sent from my iPhone)

Monday, August 3, 2009

New Model of the Temple

To be on display near the Western Wall (Kotel)

Rebuilding the Altar?

The Temple Institute have begun construction on a new altar, though not on the Temple Mount.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Priestly inscription from time of Jesus discovered

Temple Mount closed (temporarily)

Attempts by some Jews to ascend the Temple Mount on Tisha b'Av were stopped by Israeli police.

This generally happens several times a year when Third Temple movements try to enter the Temple Mount.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dome of the Rock

Here's a nice site and photographs on the Dome of the Rock, which most scholars believe is the site of Solomon's Temple

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gigapan of the Salt Lake Mormon Temple

William Hamblin has posted a 400 megapixel photo of the east wall of the Salt Lake Temple on "Gigapan," including close-ups a of a dozen symbolic architectural features.

Friday, July 24, 2009

360 VR Panoramas of LDS Temple Square

Photographed by William Hamblin. See online here.

Put your mouse over the image, and left click and drag to move around in the panorama. Zoom in and out using the shift and option or control keys. There is a little less distortion if you zoom in a bit.

Tweeting God at the Western Wall (Kotel)

You can now send an email, which will be printed and placed in the cracks of the Western Wall of the Temple for you.

See here and here.

Tweet your Prays @ The Kotel

Seems somehow inappropriate and yet inevitable. OK, I'll admit I tried it.

(But it leads to the inevitable question: Can you "follow" God on Twitter?)

Tisha B'av (Ninth of Av)

Tisha B'Av (the ninth day of the month of Av) is a Jewish holy day of fasting and mourning for the destruction of the Temple. This year it falls from sunset on July 29 through sunset on July 30.

The Temple Mount Faithful, a militant group agitating for Israeli takeover of the Dome of the Rock and the reconstruction of Temple, is planning a demonstration and their annual attempt to march onto the Temple Mount. Such demonstrations have always been stopped by Israeli police in the past.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evangelical Interpretations of Prophecies of Future Temple

Randall Price, an eschatologically oriented Evangelical, summarizes his interpretation of prophecies of a future temple.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New National Park East of Temple Mount

Israel proposes to build a new national park to the east of the Temple Mount. This area is near a Muslim cemetery, and the decision will undoubtedly increase tensions related to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Connections between Temple and Dome

Summary of evidence that Muslim traditions at the Haram al-Sharif and Dome of the Rock are linked to earlier Jewish temple traditions.

Unfortunately I was unable to identify the original source of Dr. Sharon's article. If anyone knows the reference, please let me know.

See also

Hamblin and Seely, Solomon's Temple: Myth and History

Conference on Temples in the Ancient Near East

Alas it is in Germany. But it looks very interesting!

Temples and Ascent

A recent presentation given by Daniel Peterson is summarized by Bryce Hammond on his great blog.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Novel on the Temple

A new archaeological thriller has recently been published with the Temple Mount playing a prominent role.

Daniel Levin, The Last Ember.

I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Temple Quarry?

One of the quarries used to excavate stone for Herod's temple may have been found in the Jerusalem area.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Temple and Mosque?

A proposal for building the Third Temple on the Temple Mount, but not on the site of the Dome of the Rock is discussed here.

My suspicion is that it won't satisfy either Muslims or Jews.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fiction on the Temple Mount

This blog includes links to a number of novels in which conflict over the Temple Mount is a theme.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Barker on Temple Music

Margaret Barker's recent presentation on Temple Music is online here.

Mark's Throne

The "throne of Mark" is the patriarchal throne of the Coptic popes. This web page has a number of photos of the throne. It is clearly a representation of the cherubim throne from the vision of Ezekiel, with a lion, bull, eagle and man panel, and many other temple motifs. Artistically it seems to date from the early medieval period of Coptic art.

Stephan Huller's book, The Real Messiah is a highly speculative interpretation of the this throne as a proto-messianic coded symbol.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Val Brinkerhoff's new book

Val Brinkerhoff, a professor of photography at BYU, has spent years studying and photographing sacred symbols, art and architecture, etc. He has photographed most most LDS temples, as well as numerous temples, mosques, cathedrals and sacred places throughout the world. Over 3000 of his photographs are online here.

He has also recently published a two volume book--The Day Star: Reading Sacred Architecture--with hundreds of photographs on his interpretation of sacred symbols and the LDS Temple.

It can be purchased on ISBN 1934537454.

His work is well worth studying.

Muslim views of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif conflict

Many Muslims fear a Jewish takeover the Haram al-Sharif. For example:”-danger/

It should be emphasized that there are many different views about the meaning and importance of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif among Muslim and Jewish people. These recent posts are only one part of a wide range of ideas.

Orthodox Jews of Temple Mount

Some Orthodox views of the importance of the Temple Mount here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BYU Sacred Space Symposium

Notes and summaries of the presentations at they BYU Sacred Space Symposium can be found here.

Temple Institute update

The Temple Institute is trying to reconstruct all the Temple furniture, vessels, etc, in anticipation of rebuilding the Temple. Their latest vessels are the incense holders.

Video here
(Also links to other videos they've made)

Most of their designs are based on Baroque period Jewish interpretations, rather than on ancient art and archaeology.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Temple Restored in Ghana?

Described here.

It's not quite clear what's going on, but it sounds interesting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Palestinian Temple Denial

An ideology has developed among Palestinians in the past few decades which denies that there ever was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Here is a report on this ideology from the BBC.

James Davila responds to some of these claims.

Barker's Temple Symposium 2

David Larsen has posted a detailed account of the Temple Music conference on his blog.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Temple Music 2

Here is an interesting theory about the cantillation marks in the Hebrew Bible as musical notation.

Here and here are some examples of the singing of Biblical texts based on this theory.

For more see here.

(I have no idea how speculative this type of reconstruction might be.)

Temple Music

Here is a preliminary report on a seminar on Temple Music held on 30 May at the Temple Church in London.

Friday, May 29, 2009

All things are better in Koine

OK, so it has nothing, well almost nothing to do with the Temple.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Very Strange Movie

I watched a movie recently called "Pi" (1998), an early work by Darren Aronofsky, (better known for the recent mystical sci-fi film "The Fountain.") It's not widely available, but can be found on Netflix.

It is about a brilliant mathematician who is trying to find the 216 number sequence that governs the universe. However, he is also slowly going mad (by implication because of his knowledge of the number) It is rather surreal, and it is never quite clear what is really happening, and what represents his delusions.

At any rate, the reason I mention this on a blog about the Temple is that a strange sub-plot of the movie involves the mathematician being cultivated by a sect of Hasidic kabbalistic Jews who want the same number because it contains the gematria of the "shem ha-meforash" the mystical unspeakable name of God. They want to get it to reopen the link between heaven and earth lost when the Holy of Holies and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans.

Warning: contains some foul language and violence.

Temple Mount Faithful

On 21 May the Temple Mount Faithful again had a procession with their cornerstone in hopes of laying the foundation of the Third Temple. They do this every year, generally with a small crowd and a large contingent of Israeli police.

The link to more details didn't work when I tried it, but they may fix it soon.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Temple archaeological site?

This report briefly mentions the forthcoming opening of an archeological site of "a temple modeled after the Temple in Jerusalem and used by Samaritans on Mount Gerizim near Nablus." It is a rather vague statement, but suspect that this is referring to the archaeological site of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim. Does anyone know any details?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Book Notice

A book by Jonathan Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple, (Oxford, 2005), has just come out in paperback, (ISBN 0195395840). It's a very interesting examination of the meaning of Jewish sacrifice. Here is the blurb:

Ancient Jewish sacrifice has long been misunderstood. Some find in sacrifice the key to the mysterious and violent origins of human culture. Others see these cultic rituals as merely the fossilized vestiges of primitive superstition. Some believe that ancient Jewish sacrifice was doomed from the start, destined to be replaced by the Christian eucharist. Others think that the temple was fated to be superseded by the synagogue. In Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple Jonathan Klawans demonstrates that these supersessionist ideologies have prevented scholars from recognizing the Jerusalem temple as a powerful source of meaning and symbolism to the ancient Jews who worshiped there. Klawans exposes and counters such ideologies by reviewing the theoretical literature on sacrifice and taking a fresh look at a broad range of evidence concerning ancient Jewish attitudes toward the temple and its sacrificial cult. The first step toward reaching a more balanced view is to integrate the study of sacrifice with the study of purity-a ritual structure that has commonly been understood as symbolic by scholars and laypeople alike. The second step is to rehabilitate sacrificial metaphors, with the understanding that these metaphors are windows into the ways sacrifice was understood by ancient Jews. By taking these steps-and by removing contemporary religious and cultural biases-Klawans allows us to better understand what sacrifice meant to the early communities who practiced it. Armed with this new understanding, Klawans reevaluates the ideas about the temple articulated in a wide array of ancient sources, including Josephus, Philo, Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament, and Rabbinic literature. Klawans mines these sources with an eye toward illuminating the symbolic meanings of sacrifice for ancient Jews. Along the way, he reconsiders the ostensible rejection of the cult by the biblical prophets, the Qumran sect, and Jesus. While these figures may have seen the temple in their time as tainted or even defiled, Klawans argues, they too-like practically all ancient Jews-believed in the cult, accepted its symbolic significance, and hoped for its ultimate efficacy.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Language of Jesus?

I have to admit, this is something I never thought I'd see. "Happy Feet" in Aramaic.

Click here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Amiens Cathedral Rosette with inverted pentegram

The 13th century cathedral of Amiens is one of the finest in France.

Here are some photos on the north transept rosette window depicting an inverted pentegram in the center of the rosette.

Source of the Swine Flu Discovered

Welcome to our 7000th visitor

Latest visitors from


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Barker's Temple Symposium

The "Temple Study Group" associated with Margaret Barker is having a symposium on "Temple Music: Meaning and Influence" in London on 30 May 2009. For information see here:

Symposium on Temple Music

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Radical Jews and Temple Mount

Jewish fringe groups are agitating for annexation of the Temple Mount


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Temple Foundations of Mysticism

The relationship between Jewish Hekhalot and Merkabah mysticism and the tmeple is well known, and has been studied in some detail. (See, for example, R. Elior, The Three Temples: On the Emergence of Jewish Mysticism, Littman, 2004.) I’ve recently come across some interesting statements that form part of the broader the background for the widespread transformation from temple ritual to mysticism.

The first is a statement by the first century Jewish philosopher and commentator Philo (On Dreams 2.231-3). He begins misinterpreting the Greek of the Day of Atonement narratives in Lev 16:17 by describing when the “high priest” (megas hieros) enters the Holy of Holies:

“‘For when,’ says the scripture, ‘he [the High Priest] goes into the holy of holies, he will not be a man till he has gone out again’ (Lev 16:17). But if at that time he is not a man, it is clear that he is not God either, but a minister (leitourgos = one who performs sacred ritual) of God, belonging as to his mortal nature to creation, but as to his immortal nature to the uncreated God. When [the High Priest’s] intellect (nous) is seized by divine love, when it strives with all its might to arrive at the most inner sanctuary (aduton = Holy of Holies), when the person surges ahead with all his force and with all his zeal, transported by the deity, he forgets everything, and forgets himself; he remembers only the deity, and is suspended from Him. ... But when this inspiration fades, and desire loses its fervor, he becomes a human being once again, He leaves divine things behind [= leaves the Holy of Holies], and then encounters the human things which wait for him in the gateway of the temple (propulaiois).” (adapted from Pierre Hadot, What is Ancient Philosophy, (Harvard, 2002) p. 162--a superb introduction to ancient philosophy--and the Yonge translation.)

This passage represents Philo’s attempt to merge Platonic contemplation (theōria) of the divine with the activities of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies on the Jewish Day of Atonement rituals. Platonic mysticism and Temple ritual are thus seen as symbolically interrelated, and the Holy of Holies is the supreme site of Platonic contemplation of the divine. (Indeed, our world “contemplation” derives from the Latin “con-templum,” literally “with/at the temple,” referring to the temple as a place for divination.)

Interestingly, Plotinus, the most important pagan Neoplatonist, has a very similar allegorical interpretation Platonic contemplation of the Divine, which he likewise links to the temple.

“This is the purport of that rule of our [Neoplatonist] Mysteries: ‘Nothing Divulged to the Uninitiate’: the Supreme [God] is not to be made a common story, the holy things may not be uncovered to the stranger, to any that has not himself attained to see [the vision of the One]. There were not two; beholder was one with beheld; it was not a vision compassed but a unity apprehended. The man formed of this mingling with the Supreme must--if he only remember--carry its image impressed upon him: he is become the Unity, nothing within him or without inducing any diversity; no movement now, no passion, no outlooking desire, once this ascent is achieved; reasoning is in abeyance and all Intellection and even, to dare the word, the very self: caught away, filled with God, he has in perfect stillness attained isolation; ... He belongs no longer to the order of the Beautiful; he has risen beyond beauty; he has overpassed even the choir of the virtues; he is like one who, having penetrated the inner sanctuary [of the temple], [leaves] the temple images [of the gods] behind him--though these [images] become once more the first objects of regard when he leaves the holies [of the temple]; for There [in the temple/contemplation] his converse was not with [an] image [of the god], nor with trace, but with the very Truth in the view of which all the rest is but of secondary concern.” (Plotinus, The Enneads, 6.9.11, MacKenna translation.)

Here Plotinus--whose Neoplatonic ideas indirectly become foundational for later Christian, Jewish and Muslim mysticism--uses a very similar temple allegory to explain his understanding of mystical union with God. Mystical union with God is a transcendent event linked allegorically and ritually with entering the Holy of Holies of the temple.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ancient Temples discovered

1- Near Tel Tayinat in Turkey, dating from the same period as Solomon's Temple.

New Temple 1

2- Near Alexandria

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tensions mount on Temple Mount

Attempts by Israeli groups to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram are causing rising tensions.

See here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

LDS Temple research site

Bruce Porter has a web site with numerous notes and outlines of temple-related themes from an LDS perspective.

Temple Motifs in the "Secret Book of James"

The “Secret Book of James” or the “Apocryphon of James” from the Nag Hammadi text (Nag Hammadi Codex 1/2 = Meyer, M. (ed.) The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 2007, hereafter NHS 23-30) says that it is “a secret book” that was “revealed” to James by the “Master,” meaning Jesus, with instructions “to be careful not to communicate too many people this book” (NHS 23). James also speaks of “another secret book that the savior revealed to me” which had earlier sent his reader (NHS 24).

The “Secret Book of James” begins with a narrative of a Christophany of the resurrected Jesus to Peter and James 550 days after his resurrection (NHS 24). Five hundred and fifty days is a year and 185 days, or a little more than a year and a half. Since the resurrection occurred at Passover, which is in late March or early April, this Christophany occurred in late September or early October, in other words at the High Holy days and the Day of Atonement on the day in which the High Priest is to enter the Holy of Holies. This is surely not coincidental.

There is also some possible deification language in the “Secret Book of James.” When Christ appears to James and Peter, he offers to take them “to the place from which I came” (NHS 24). In a general sense this is heaven, but in the context of the Day of Atonement, it is quite likely that it is a reference to the celestial Temple, where Christ serves as the Great High Priest. This interpretation is confirmed later in the text when Christ says that he “ shall ascend to the place from which I have come” where he can “listen to the hymns that await me in heaven,” and where “I must take my place at the right hand of my Father” (NHS 29). Thus, when James is invited to go to the place from which Christ came, he is invited to the throne of God and the celestial temple. This concept is dramatically illustrated by the statement that “Blessed is he who has seen himself as a fourth one in heaven” (NHS 28). The three in Heaven are obviously the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with the “fourth one in heaven” being James, or more generally anyone who participates in a celestial ascent. Thus, if James is to go to the place from which Christ has come, and become a “fourth one in heaven, it implies the deification of James.

With Christ’s revelation complete, he says that “a chariot of spirit” will “carry me out” to where he shall “strip myself that I may clothe myself” (NHS 30). The chariot of the spirit here is an obvious allusion to Elijah, Enoch, and Ezekiel (2 Kgs 2; 1 Enoch 70; Ezek 1, 10). When Christ says that he will strip himself so that he may clothe himself it is possible that he is referring to a celestial transfiguration in which he sheds his mortal form and assumes celestial glory. On the other hand, it is quite possibly also an allusion to the Day of Atonement ritual in which the High Priest shed his robes, was purified, and donned new robes in order to enter into the Holy of Holies (Lev 16.23-24; Sirach 50.11; Mishnah, Yoma 7.5).

James and Peter then follow Christ in a mystical ascent to heaven, where they hear trumpet blasts, a probable allusion to the Feast of Trumpets associated with the Day of Atonement. In heaven they join with the angels in singing hymns and rejoicing, thus participating with the angelic priests in the celestial temple rituals. However, they were not allowed at this time to see God enthroned in the celestial Holy of Holies. Upon returning from their celestial ascent, James and Peter tell the other apostles that Christ “gave us his right hand, and promised all of us [eternal] life.” In other words, their celestial ascent culminated in a covenant of eternal life symbolized by Christ shaking their right hand. When his vision is complete, James “went up to [the temple] in Jerusalem to pray (NHS 30).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tabernacle reproduction

Terry Harman, an Evangelical minister, has created a replica of the Tabernacle in which he dresses up as the High Priest and does tours for church groups.

He as lots of photos of various tabernacle furniture with himself in the High Priest's robes. (Note: I disagree with much of his reconstruction of the tabernacle furnishings, etc. But, that's me.)

There are a number of YouTube videos he has made; here's one, with links to others

There is also a full-scale tabernacle replica near Timna in Israel.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Controversy over Tendler's Temple Mount Visit

Many Jews believe he has violated Jewish Law by doing so. This is part of an old debate among Jews, reflected in the fact that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has declared that Jews should not ascend the Temple Mount.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Audio Hebrew Bible Online

For those trying to learn Hebrew, mp3 audio files for the entire Hebrew Bible are online, and can be downloaded.

Audio Hebrew Bible Online

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Whose Temple Mount?

This story of a rather provocative visit of Rabbi Tendler to the Haram al-Sharif punctuates the ongoing tension over control of the sacred site. (You can see the Israeli security accompanying the visitors in several scenes.)

Here's a link to the video:

The people generally speak English, but use a large number of Yiddish and Hebrew words. "Har ha-Bayis" is a dialectical pronunciation of "Har ha-Bayit" = "Mountain of the House" = the Temple Mount, more generally the Temple. "Ha-Shem is "the Name" meaning God. "Qadusha" = "Holiness". Beit ha-Miqdash = "House of the Sanctuary" = the temple.

Near the end (about minute 13) you can see one doing the priestly benediction using the gesture of blessing used by the High Priest when blessing the people.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? (2)

David Larsen has a nice summary of the issues on the authorship of the DSS (which are distorted in recent press reports).

See: Heavenly Ascents

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Mormon Monastery

"The Monk" has an excellent web site dedicated to the LDS Temple, with a great deal of information and numerous links. Well worth a visit.

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Rachel Elior, professor at Hebrew University, is arguing in a new book that the Dead Sea Scrolls were not written by the Essenes, but by a disaffected priestly clan who had been expelled from the Temple during the period of the Maccabees.

Jim Davila's Report

(Bombastic Journalistic hype alert on the following!)

UPI Report

Time Report

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Blog

David Bokovoy has started a new blog on biblical studies and LDS scriptures which occasionally contains temple-related material.

Maya temple creation myths

Newly discovered reliefs from a temple at El Mirador in Guatemala, dating to the third century BC, depict Maya creation narratives. This emphasizes the widespread connection between creation narratives and temple foundations.

Reuters Report.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Artifacts and the Temple 4: Miniature Shrine

Another model temple from the Syria-Palestine region (now at the Louvre). This one shows twin pillars on the porch, paralleling the bronze columns on Solomon's Temple. The image in the gateway of the temple is a goddess, perhaps Asherah, representing the presence of the goddess in the temple. This shrine probably parallels both the form and the ideology of Solomon's Temple.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Artifacts and the Temple 3: Cherubim

Excavations in Samaria in Israel uncovered a number of ivory plaques which once decorated a palace or temple (or perhaps furniture of some sort). They date from the ninth to tenth centuries BC, in other words, from the time of the Solomon's temple. These ivories provide the closest surviving chronological, geographical, cultural and thematic examples to the decorations of Solomon's temple. The example here depicts two "cherubs" flanking a central figure in a shrine. The Cherubs' wings protectively overarch the central figure while touching one another just as the biblical cherubs were said to have done with the Ark of the Covenant. (Ex 25:20; 1 Kgs 6:27; 1 Chr 28:18)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Necromancy in the Temple?

Necromancy--summoning the spirits of the dead to receive secrets or prophecies--was widespread in ancient and medieval times. In the Bible the most famous case was when Saul consulted the "witch of Endor" to summon the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel (1 Sam 28:7). In Hebrew, the "witch" was called a baʿalat ʾôv, literally one who controls or possesses a spirit. It is often translated as "one who has a familiar spirit" in the KJV. In modern terms it could be translated as a spiritual medium or a necromancer.

This type of spirit conjuring in condemned in the Bible (Lev 20:27). Manasseh, king of Judah, described as an apostate, was said to have consulted necromancers (2 Kgs 21:6, 2 Chr 33:6). Although the text does not explicitly state that Manasseh consulted them in the temple, it is implied, since it mentioned in the context of other abominations he practiced in the temple in the verses immediately preceding and following this verse. His son Josiah abolished necromancy in his temple reforms (2 Kg 23:24).

In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 65b) it states, "There are two kinds of necromancy: the one where the dead is raised by naming him, the other where he [the dead] is invoked by means of a skull." The reason I raise this issue is that the latest issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review has an article by Dan Levene entitled "Rare Magic Inscription on Human Skull" (March/April 53/2 (2009):46-50), which describes a newly discovered skull with an Aramaic inscription that was presumably used for necromancy. It may thus be a late relic representing a type of necromancy that might have been used in the temple during the apostasy of Manesseh.

Is the original Menorah hidden in the Vatican?


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lectures on ancient Temples

William Hamblin has posted recordings of a number of lectures from his class on ancient temple traditions. They are in reverse chronological order.

Septuagint Studies

The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible translated in Egypt in the 2nd century BC) plays a vital role in as a link between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. It is the source of a great teach of technical Greek temple terminology that allows us to better understand allusions to temple theology and motifs in the New Testament. The following is an introductory bibliography to texts, translations, tools, and studies of the Septuagint.

Septuagint: Introductory Bibliography

Rahlfs, A. Septuaginta (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006) [Modern critical Greek edition.]
Pietersma, A. and B. Wright (trs.), A New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford, 2007) [Contemporary critical translation.]
The Orthodox Study Bible, (Thomas Nelson, 2008) [Includes a translation of the Septuagint and New Testament with Greek Orthodox notes interpretative notes and cross-references.]

Conybeare, F. Grammar of Septuagint Greek, (Hendrickson, 2001)
Hatch, Edwin, Concordance to the Septuagint, (Baker, 1998)
Lust, J. (et. al.), Greek English Lexicon of the Septuagint, (Hendrickson, 2006)

Dines, J. The Septuagint, (Continuum, 2004)
Hengel, M. The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon (Baker, 2004)
Jobes, K. and M. Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint, (Baker, 2005)
Marcos, N. The Septuagint in Context: An Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible, (Brill, 2000)
McLay, T. The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Studies, (Eerdmans, 2003)

Artifacts and the Temple 2: Miniature Shrines

A number of miniature shrines have been found in the Syria and Palestine regions. These were probably for small provincial shrines or private dwellings. Many scholars think that small clay images of gods were placed in these shrines for devotions. The facade of these miniature shrines probably is an imitation of full-scale temples. The two columns flanking the shrine are probably as close to an image of the twin bronze columns Jachin and Boaz which flanked the main door to Solomon's Temple (1 Kgs 7:21).

The object photographed here is in the Louvre.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Artifacts and the Temple 1: The Gezer Calendar

Written in Paleo-Hebrew, the Gezer Calendar dates from the 10th century BC, the time of the building of Solomon's Temple. It contains the following text:

"Two months of harvest
Two months of planting
Two months are late planting
One month of pulling flax
One month of barley harvest
One month of harvest and feasting
Two months of pruning vines
One month of summer fruit"

This calendar shows the the fundamental significance of the agricultural cycle in ancient Israel, which is reflected in Israelite temple festivals of the Shevu'ot ("weeks") or First Fruits in early Summer (the "month of summer" fruit in line 8), and the Feast of Ingathering (the harvest) in the Fall ("two months of harvest" in line 1). The mention of feasting is also reflects the fact that temple pilgrimages, festivals involved feasting.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Enoch Bibliography

Ancient Enoch literature is filled with interesting temple motifs. For those interested in pursuing study of these Enoch texts, I've prepared this introductory bibliography:

Ancient Enoch Texts

1 Enoch (Ethiopian)
Black, M. Apocalypsis Henochi Graece, (Pseudepigrapha Veteris Testament graece, 3), (Leiden, 1970)
Black, M., The Book of Enoch or I Enoch: A New English Edition, Studia in Veteris Testamenti pseudepigrapha, 7 (Leiden: Brill, 1985)
Charles, R. H., The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912)
Isaac, E. trans. “1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch” OTP 1:5-90
Knibb, M. The Ethiopic Book of Enoch: A New Edition in the Light of the Aramaic Dead Sea Fragments, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978)
Milik, J. T., The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976)
Nickelsburg, George W. E., 1 Enoch 1, Hermeneia Commentary, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001)
•Nickelsburg, G. 1 Enoch: A New Translation, (Fortress, 2004)
Tiller, P. A Commentary on the Animal Apocalypse of I Enoch, Society of Biblical Literature Early Judaism and Its Literature, 4 (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1993)
VanderKam, J. ed., Qumran Cave 4, VIII: Parabiblical Texts, Part 1. Discoveries in the Judean Desert, XIII, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994)

2 Enoch (Slavonic)
•Andersen, F. I., trans. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” OTP 1:91-222

3 Enoch (Hebrew)
Alexander, P. trans. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch,” OTP 1:223-316
•Oldenberg, H. 3 Enoch, (Cambridge, 1928 [rep. New York: KTAV, 1973])

Other Enoch Traditions
VanderKam, J. “Enoch Traditions in Jubilees and Other Second-Century Sources,” Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers, ed. P. Achtemeier (1978): 1:229-51
Kugel, J. Traditions of the Bible, (Harvard, 1998) 173-183

Modern Studies

Alexander, Philip S., “Enoch, Third Book of” ABD 2:522-6
Anderson, Francis I. “Enoch, Second Book of” ABD 2:-516-522
Barker, Margaret, The Lost Prophet: The Book of Enoch and its Influence on Christianity, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1988)
Bautch, K. A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17-19, (Brill, 2003)
Boccaccini, G. (ed.) Enoch and Qumran Origins: New Light on a Forgotten Connection, (Eerdmans, 2005)
Boccaccini, G. (ed.) Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man, (Eerdmans, 2007)
Boccaccini, G. Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism, (Eerdmans, 1998)
Hess, Richard, “Enoch” ABD 2:508.
Kvanvig, H. S., Roots of Apocalyptic: The Mesopotamian Background of the Enoch Figure and of the Son of Man, Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament, 61 (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1988)
Nibley, Hugh, Enoch the Prophet (CWHN 2) (Provo, Ut: FARMS, 1986)
Lambert, “Enmeduranki and Related Matters,” Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 21 (1967):126-38
Nickelsburg, George W. E. “Enoch, First Book of” ABD 2:508-516
Reed, A. Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity: The Reception of Enochic Literature, (Cambridge, 2005)
VanderKam, James C., “1 Enoch, Enochic Motifs, and Enoch in Early Christian Literature,” in James VanderKam and William Adler, eds., The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), pp. 33-101.
VanderKam, James C., Enoch: a Man for All Generations, (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1995)
VanderKam, James C., Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition, Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series, 16 (Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1984)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

More on the world's oldest Temple

Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey (+ some speculative hyperbole from the press).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Royal Seal from the time of Hezekiah

Some royal seals from the time of Hezekiah, king of Jerusalem and reformer of the temple cult, were discovered recently south of Jerusalem.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Virtual Tour of Temple Mount

This is a really splendid panoramic tour of the Muslim monuments on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mandaeans in the News

The Mandaeans are a small sect claiming John the Baptist as their prophet, with unique set of gnostic scriptures, and interesting esoteric rituals like purification rites than may link back 2000 years to Temple times. In the wake of the instability in Iraq many have migrated out of Iraq, with Worcester MA becoming a new center.

For more on the Mandaeans, see:

Buckley, Jorunn, The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)
Lupieri, Edmondo, The Mandaeans: The Last Gnostics, (Eerdmans, 2002), with extracts from primary sources

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Antonia Fortress

Leen Ritmeyer's always interesting site has a review of current discussions on the location and size of the Antonia Fortress on the northwest corner of the Temple Mount during the days of Jesus.

The Order of Kolob?

A French mix of Freemasonry, Mormonism, and esotericism.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Power Struggle

The latest in the ongoing ideological and power struggle for control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount/Haram.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Margaret Barker's Temple Studies Group in England will sponsor a symposium on "Temple Music: Meaning and Influence" at the Temple Church in London, Saturday 30 May 2009, 10.00am–5.00 pm.

Details on speakers and topics can be found at:

If any reader in the London area attends, I'd be happy to post a report on the conference.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

David Larsen, on his interesting "Heavenly Ascents" web page has summarized some temple-related sessions that were given in Nov 2008 at the Society of Biblical Literature conference in Boston.

click here

Jewish ritual on the Temple Mount/Haram

This is from a few months ago, but represents the ongoing agitation and efforts of the "Temple Institute" to rebuild the temple.

The presence of only 400 people in their group probably indicates this movement does not have widespread support among most Israelis.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Welcome to new viewers

... from United Arab Emirates, Iran, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malta, Jordan, and Ukraine!
Dan Schowalter will be lecturing on pagan three temples Herod the Great built in ancient Israel.

If anyone lives near ASU, send a report and I'll post it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gold Plated Temple?

The current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (Jan/Feb 2009), p 14, has a brief article and photo of a gold-plated stone found years ago in the archaeological excavations south of the Temple Mount, which has remained unpublished until now. Josephus claimed that part of Herod's temple was covered with gold (Wars 5.201-224), leading some scholars to speculate that this gold-leaefed stone may be a remnant of Herod's Temple.

Friday, January 9, 2009

First Temple Artifact found?

The Israeli press is reporting the discovery of a small decorative pomegranate which may date from the First Temple period, and may have been associated with the the pomegranate ornamentation described in 1 Kgs 7:40-45.

Here is a Google translation of the Hebrew new report, which has a picture and a garbled discussion.

These types of discoveries are often overblown by both the archaeologists and the press (not to mention forgeries), so we'll need to wait and see how things develop to understand its real significance.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New class on Temple Studies

This semester William Hamblin, professor of History at BYU, is teaching a new class, "Temples and Civilizations." He is posting podcasts of Keynote slides and recordings of his lectures at the following web site.

New 3D Herod Temple recreation

Leen Ritmeyer's blog has a new post describing a 3D computer recreation of Herod's temple he is working on. Details and links can be found at

See also this web site.