It has been said that as King Solomon was building his temple, masons learned the temple ceremonies and passed them down through the centuries. Joseph Smith claimed these ceremonies were corrupted, and by revelation, Joseph was restoring true masonry. Is this a true story? We’ll learn more about this with historian Cheryl Bruno who has a new book coming out this year.
GT: The story that I understand, and I think this is what most Mormons hear, so we’ll go with the stereotype and then you can tell us whether that’s right or wrong. So, the story is that there were some masons in King Solomon’s temple, and they learned the temple ceremonies, and those were corrupted, and then Joseph Smith restored them to their proper frame. Is that a fair framing?
GT: Somehow, I knew you were going to say that.
Cheryl: No, the Masons have a legend that talks about King Solomon and when he was building his temple. He used masonry. But in Masonic parlance, it goes all the way back to Adam, who was a mason. They have lots of different legends. It’s not necessarily that they have a temple ceremony per se, but they do have rituals that speak about temple work and King Solomon. It’s said that Joseph Smith borrowed extensively from the Masonic ritual, when he formulated the temple ceremony.
GT: Okay. So from what I understand, masonry doesn’t go back to King Solomon’s time in reality.
Cheryl: That’s just their legend.
GT: That’s the legend. Okay. But is it true that Joseph Smith believed that?
Cheryl: Yes, many people in the United States in the 19th century did believe that that was a true story. But I don’t know. History was quite different back then. Truth wasn’t like we believe truth is today. It was more of, like the George Washington story of when he cut down a cherry tree, was a historical story that was told to show that he was an honest man. So it was a legitimate story to tell of the history. They didn’t care whether it was literally true or not. So today we would not use that as history. Because whether he was honest or not, we want to know what actually happened.
GT: So one of the things that I understand with masonry, is that it really, instead of dating to King Solomon’s time, which is like, 1000 BC, it really dates to the Middle Ages, which is off by what, 2000 years?
Cheryl: Yeah, we’re not exactly sure when masonry, as we know it, began. We know that in 1717, they had the first Grand Lodge meeting. We have Masonic documents from the 1300s. So we’re not real sure when exactly between those two dates it began as we know it today.
I have just one note I want to add. I spoke with Cheryl last summer and we thought the book was coming out this month, but there have been some production delays. It is definitely coming out this year and should be an amazing book. Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our conversation with Dr. Richard Bennett on the evolution of Temple Worship?