(Re)Interpreting the Cosmic History of the Mormon Temple Experience

“(Re)Interpreting the Cosmic History of the Mormon Temple Experience: Theological Connections between Jewish and Catholic Sacred Space.”

Author: Brandon Ro

Journal of Comparative Theology at Harvard Divinity School, v. 4, no. 1 (June 2013): 21-73.V4Iss1

ABSTRACT: This article utilizes comparative theology and hermeneutics to commence a faith promoting dialogue between Mormon, Jewish, and Catholic sacred architecture. Specifically, similarities between early Mormon temples, the ancient Jewish temples at Jerusalem, and early Christian and Catholic churches are compared in terms of architecture, spatial sequence, ritual, scriptural texts and interpretations, symbolism, and mythicohistorical episodes. The organization of the article relies on the spatial sequence of the Mormon temple ritual drama known as the “endowment.” Consequently, the theme or episode of cosmic history found in each “endowment” room is compared across religions and includes: 1) the cosmogonic primordial era; 2) the paradisal world of Eden; 3) the fallen disordered world; 4) the Messianic paradisiacal era; and 5) the perfected Heavenly realm. It is concluded that comparative theology and hermeneutics are viable methodologies in bringing to light significant theological parallels – especially when a typology of sacred space, such as the Mormon temple, is compared cross-culturally, non-historically, and inter-religiously to other cases of sacred architecture. Ultimately, the comparisons in this article demonstrate how God’s “plan of salvation” is revealed in each religion’s sacred spaces.

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