The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship
A veil of secrecy surrounds Mormon temple worship. While intended to preserve the sacredness of the experience, the silence leaves many Latter-day Saints mystified. What are the derivation and development of the holy endowment, and would the experience be more meaningful if these were more commonly known? Modern parishioners lack context to interpret the sometimes arcane and syncretistic elements of the symbolism.
For instance, David John Buerger traces the evolution of the initiatory rites, including the New Testament-like foot washings, which originated in Ohio; the more elaborate Old Testament-like washings and anointings, which began in Illinois and were performed in large bathtubs, with oil poured over the initiate's head; and the vestigial contemporary sprinkling and dabbing which began in Utah. He also shows why the dramatic portions of the ceremony blend mythic and anachronistic events.
Buerger addresses the abandonment of the adoption sealing; the near disappearance of the highest ordinance, the second anointing; and other more recent changes. Biblical models, Masonic prototypes, folk beliefs, and frontier resourcefulness all went into the creation of this most holy form of LDS worship. Diary entries and other primary sources document the fascinating evolution.
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Review: The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple WorshipUser Review - Richard Downey - Goodreads
This is a pretty good introduction to the subject. It is well written and researched. There are a few picky things like getting the number of the presidents of the church wrong (Lorenzo Snow listed as ... Read full review
Review: The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple WorshipUser Review - Bruce - Goodreads
Overall, this was an excellent primer on the development of modern Mormon temple ceremonies. It would be especially useful to those members of the church who acknowledge that church history is often a ... Read full review