FARMS's recent publication of The Temple in Time and Eternity ends a long wait for those who enjoyed the 1994 book Temples of the Ancient World, the inaugural volume of the "Temples through the Ages" series.
"The importance of the temple to the religious community [of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean world] can scarcely be exaggerated," writes Donald W. Parry in the introduction to the book. Parry cites the Jewish historian Josephus, who described Herod's Temple as "the most marvelous edifice which we have ever seen or heard of, whether we consider its structure, its magnitude, the richness of its every detail, or the reputation of its Holy Places" (Wars 6.267).
Edited by BYU professors of Hebrew Donald W. Parry and Stephen D. Ricks, the book comprises three sections: "Temple and Ritual," "Temples in the Israelite Tradition," and "Temples in the Non-Israelite Tradition." Although focusing on ancient temples and temple worship, the book provides many insights that can increase one's understanding and appreciation of modern temple worship.
The "Temple and Ritual" section features Hugh W. Nibley's paper "Abraham's Temple Drama," recently presented as part of a FARMS lecture series on the Book of Abraham. Nibley highlights intriguing connections between truths revealed in the Book of Abraham and worship practices in ancient and modern temples. He reminds us that "we do not know everything. There is wonder upon wonder awaiting. What the temple teaches is as real as the temple itself."
Also in this section, Stephen Ricks discusses oaths and oath taking in the Old Testament, and John A. Tvedtnes draws on ancient sources to show that "though most Christians stopped baptizing for the dead in the early centuries after Christ, . . . the practice was known in various parts of the Mediterranean world and . . . found ready acceptance in such areas as Egypt." In a second article, Tvedtnes explains the form and purposes of temple prayer in ancient times.
In the section "Temples in the Israelite Tradition," Richard O. Cowan traces the development of the temple through the ages, noting that its sacred functions were by necessity restored in modern times as part of the dispensation of the fulness of times. In another chapter, Richard D. Draper and Donald W. Parry examine temple symbolism in Genesis 23 and Revelation 23 and make intriguing comparisons, particularly in regard to promises and blessings. Alan K. Parrish shares insights into modern temple worship through the eyes of John A. Widtsoe, and Thomas R. Valletta examines priesthood and temple issues by contrasting the holy order of the Son of God and its false counterpart, the order of Nehor.
The concluding chapters of the book, grouped in the section "Temples in the Non-Israelite Tradition," include John Gee's discussion of the heavenly gatekeeper (gleaned from various Egyptian literary works), a fascinating study by Gaye Strathearn and Brian M. Hauglid of the Great Mosque and its Kaba in light of John Lundquist's typology of ancient Near Eastern temples, and E. Jan Wilson's enlightening treatment of the features of a Sumerian temple.
Citation and subject indexes, as well as occasional illustrations, complete the volume and make it a valuable asset in one's study of temples, both ancient and modern.