Temple | BYU Studies


“A Pentecost and Endowment Indeed”: Six Eyewitness Accounts of the Kirtland Temple Experience

Author Steven C. Harper,
This Bookshelf Single is an excerpt from the book Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844, Second Edition. In this chapter, Steven C. Harper reproduces the richest historical documents associated with the dedication of the Kirtland Temple—the contemporary writings of eyewitnesses. They are published here together as a collective testimony of the fulfillment of divine... Read more

Voyages of Faith: The Purported Attack on the Hawaii Temple (Chapter Only)

On no less than three occasions during the past twenty years, the alleged December 7, 1941, attempt to bomb the Hawai‘i Temple has been discussed at MPHS annual conferences. Two of the Society’s most intrepid researchers— Kenneth W. Baldridge and Lance D. Chase, MPHS co-founders and former colleagues in the BYU–Hawai‘i Division of Social Sciences—took up the subject.


Enoch and the Temple

Author Various Authors, Compiler BYU Studies Staff,
This ebook contains three articles from a conference on Enoch and the temple that was cosponsored by BYU Studies in February 2013 at Utah State University and BYU. George Nickelsburg, an eminent biblical scholar, identifies much temple content in the book of 1 Enoch: Enoch's commissioning and ascension into the heavenly sanctuary. David Larsen discusses ancient sources regarding a community... Read more

The Temple: Articles from BYU Studies and the Encyclopedia of Mormonism

This compilation of articles on the temple doctrines and ordinances is selected from over fifty years of LDS scholarship published by BYU Studies and from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. This volume features articles on Nauvoo temple doctrines, the law of adoption, the 1877 commencement of endowments and sealings for the dead, prayer circles, and temple elements in ancient religious communities... Read more

The Catholic Liturgy and the Mormon Temple

Most of the world's religions incorporate some form of ritual into their worship, be it merely the singing of a hymn in a meeting, the wearing of a particular attire, or kneeling at a certain time and place. The older the religion is, the more complex and numerous the ceremonies seem to be and the more they often resemble each other, indicating the probability of a common ancestral beginning in... Read more

Which Is the Wisest Course?: The Transformation in Mormon Temple Consciousness, 1870–1898

From the 1870s to 1890, the first Latter-day Saint temples in Utah were completed and temple work was fully underway, and at the same time the Church was being legally compelled to abandon polygamy. In 1890, Wilford Woodruff faced disenfranchisement of the Church and the loss of the temples. He was prepared to defend polygamy, but upon revelation from God changed his course and issued the... Read more

Pentecost Continued: A Contemporaneous Account of the Kirtland Temple Dedication

The significance of what transpired at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple on March 27, 1836, is well established among Latter-day Saints. The historical record affirming an outpouring of divine manifestations is rich. Even so, precious few contemporaneous reports by observers are available. Recently, however, the richness of the historical record increased with the discovery of an eyewitness... Read more

Exterior Symbolism of the Salt Lake Temple: Reflecting the Faith That Called the Place into Being

Shortly after World War II, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps wrote a book called Man's Search for Meaning . This title captures one of humanity's deepest yearnings. Temples answer some of the most important aspects of that search for Latter-day Saints; many of those answers are expressed visually on the exterior of the Salt Lake Temple. This paper represents my personal reflections on... Read more

The Temple According to 1 Enoch

During the Second Temple period (516 BCE to 70 CE), most Jews in Jerusalem worshipped at the Jerusalem temple. But a separate community at Qumran decried the lack of ritual purity in the activity at the Second Temple and saw their community as an ersatz for the temple. Literature at Qumran included 1 Enoch, a collection of five tractates composed in the Aramaic language between the fourth century... Read more

Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an Entire Community Ascend to Heaven?

One of the most significant additions to the Book of Genesis in Joseph Smith's inspired translation of the Bible is to the story of the prophet Enoch, who the biblical record briefly implies was taken up into heaven alive. In Joseph Smith's rendering of the story, however, not only Enoch, as an individual, ascends into heaven, but also his entire community. This article explores the notion of... Read more

Clothed Upon: A Unique Aspect of Christian Antiquity

Ancient texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi codices, the pseudepigrapha, and Rabbinic and early Christian literature have much to say about the ritual significance of sacred vestments. The symbolism of donning sacred vestments, of putting on a garment in a ritual context, assumes a plan of salvation that acknowledges certain conditions necessary to obtain certain blessings. The... Read more

The LDS Story of Enoch as the Culminating Episode of a Temple Text

The story of Enoch might be understood as the culminating episode in a temple text cycle woven through the Book of Moses in the LDS Pearl of Great Price. A "temple text" is a sacred text that uses ceremony and commandments to allow a person to stand ritually in the presence of God. The Book of Moses reflects elements of temple architecture, furnishings, and ritual in the story of the Creation and... Read more

Line upon Line, Precept upon Precept: Reflections on the 1877 Commencement of the Performance of Endowments and Sealings of the Dead

The first endowments for the dead in LDS history were performed on January 11, 1877, in the St. George Temple. Considering that performing endowments for the dead rewrote the nature of LDS temple worship and vastly multiplied reasons for temple attendance, it is a topic worthy of reverent consideration and appreciation. As much an invitation for increased work for the dead, it has been a call for... Read more

The Early Christian Prayer Circle

The nature of the early Christian prayer circle may be described by letting the oldest documents speak for themselves, beginning with the latest and moving backwards to the earliest. The rite was depicted for the last time in a document read to the assembled churchmen of the Second Council of Nicaea in A.D. 787 and condemned by them to the flames. Their objection was to parts of the text that... Read more

Doctrine and the Temple in Nauvoo

On January 8, 1841, Joseph Smith announced that a temple would be built in Nauvoo, "constructed as to enable all the functions of the Priesthood to be duly exercised, and where instructions from the Most High will be received, and from this place go forth to distant lands." Prophetically, he described the community of Nauvoo and its temple as the place where the Lord would reveal to his Church... Read more

Artworks in the Celestial Room of the First Nauvoo Temple

Because of the scant time the first Nauvoo Temple was open for sacred ordinances, portraits of prominent Nauvoo citizens were borrowed to adorn the temple walls. Brigham Young and the temple committee also planned, commissioned, and paid for at least one other portrait for display in the temple. The presence of these images demonstrates how carefully Brigham Young and the temple committee... Read more

Temple Worship and a Possible Reference to a Prayer Circle in Psalm 24

Several scholars have identified Psalm 24 as a temple liturgical hymn. Sigmund Mowinckel, for example, believes that Psalm 24 contains leges sacrae , or "laws of the sanctuary," those "special rules and special demands as to the qualifications of those to be admitted" into the temple. Speaking specifically of Psalm 24, Hans-Joachim Kraus states that we "must reckon with the presence in the Psalms... Read more

Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles

This binding process in religion has often been achieved through secret as well as public rites. Latter-day Saints scholar Hugh Nibley has devoted much research to ancient ordinances that were "hidden from the world" and were intended to be experienced in sacred seclusion. The importance of such study lies in the fact that within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are certain... Read more

Temple Elements in Ancient Religious Communities

The idea of Zion or utopia has fascinated the human race since ancient times. This topic has special meaning to Mormons, since latter-day scripture revealed to Joseph Smith is replete with references to building Zion. What, then, can Latter-day Saints learn from attempts by other groups? One thing we learn, writes Brent Schmidt, is that certain characteristics appeared in some successful ancient... Read more

The Symbolism of the Beehive in Latter-day Saint Tradition

This photo essay presents Brinkerhoff's inspiring photos of beehives in significant Mormon places. For early Mormons, the beehive symbolized the kingdom of God and was used as an architectural feature, in publications and discourse, on gravestones, on money, and more. Beehives used on temple doors and entryways symbolize entering the kingdom of God. The beehive on financial items symbolizes the... Read more

Twentieth-Century Temples

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A Jewel in the Gardens of Paradise: The Art and Architecture of the Hawai'i Temple

When the Hawaii Temple was proposed in general conference in October 1915, there were only four functioning temples of the Church. President Joseph F. Smith turned to architects Hyrum Pope and Harold Burton, who had created the design for the Alberta Temple in 1912. The Hawaii Temple was more than a miniature of the Alberta Temple, as it used different materials and methods. For ornamentation,... Read more

The Salt Lake Temple Infrastructure: Studying It Out in Their Minds

As an inveterate sidewalk superintendent, I have long been enthralled by raw infrastructure. Scrutinizing the innards of mines, engine rooms, bridges, and buildings creates a feeling of awe for the souls, largely unrecognized, who designed and built such works. The architectural infrastructure of the Salt Lake Temple, its foundations, engineering, and use of technology, engender similar feelings... Read more

The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the ritual behavior of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The latest volume to address that subject is Jonathan Stapley’s The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology , published by Oxford University Press. Grounded in his extensive studies concerning individual healing rites and Latter-day Saint sealings,... Read more

New Photographs of the Alberta Canada Temple Site Dedication, 1913

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William Weeks, Architect of the Nauvoo Temple

The Nauvoo Temple is well known to students of LDS Church history, but the structure's architect, William Weeks, has slipped into obscurity. Yet he deserves to be better known today, not that he was a great architect outside his group and time, but because he helped to translate the purposes and ideals of the early Latter-day Saints into architectural terms and because his work represented the... Read more

The Sacred Departments for Temple Work in Nauvoo: The Assembly Room and the Council Chamber

In the spring of 1831 "about two hundred men, women and children", all Latter-day Saints, left western New York and moved to northeastern Ohio. These New York Mormons moved in response to Joseph Smith's revelations, in which the Lord promised them that if they moved to Ohio He would endow them with power from on high. This irresistible promise of an endowment motivated the Saints to build the... Read more

The Kirtland Temple

The Kirtland Temple stands to this day as a physical link with the Church's beginnings—the first of first temples. It became a place of revelation, communion, inspired learning—a place of awe and joy. Today millions revere it as a place of sacred awakening, and above all, a House of God. As a prelude to endowment, the Kirtland Temple served as a place to receive those keys necessary for these... Read more

The Apostle Peter and the Kirtland Temple

There seems little question that Peter did visit the Kirtland Temple and was seen and identified by the Prophet Joseph Smith, but the date of that appearance has been confused, and the matter needs additional consideration. The corroborative accounts of Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Truman O. Angell record the visit of an angel to the Kirtland Temple on 27 March 1836. Angell's report... Read more