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The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship Paperback – December 15, 2002


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The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship + Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History + Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Signature Books; 1 edition (December 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560851767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560851769
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Buerger puts Joseph Smith's creative encounter with Freemasonry into an appropriate perspective" -- John L. Brooke, The Journal of American History

"Examines the near disappearance of the second anointing, once considered the crowning ordinance of the temple." -- Religious Advance

Buerger puts Joseph Smith's creative encounter with Freemasonry into an appropriate perspective ..." --John L. Brooke, The Journal of American History

Drawn from authentic sources, David Buerger's The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship is an insightful, comprehensive and scholarly history of LDS temple worship. Readers will learn of its humble beginnings in Ohio where members practiced Old Testament-like ceremonies to the adoption and transformation of Masonic ritual in Nauvoo, Illinois, to recent modifications which suggest an adaption to contemporary concerns for appearing relevant to today's political and social issues. The Mormon concept of "continuous revelation is reflected in the dynamics and continuing evolution of Mormon temple worship. Chapters cover the prelude to endowment, the Kirtland Ceremony, Joseph Smith's ritual, Brigham Young's revisions, developments in nineteenth century Utah, the twentieth century temple, and the authors conclusions form his research data. Appendix One features "The December 1845 Meetings of the Holy Order." Appendix Two features "Published Descriptions of the Temple Ceremony." A unique, accurate and insightful publication. --Midwest Book Review

Providing a fascinating chronology of developments associated with Latter-day Saint temples and temple ordinances, this source book discusses the origins of the temple concept, comparative rituals, and changes in ceremonies. Buerger charts the abandonment of the adoption sealing which once linked unrelated families and examines the near disappearance of the second anointing, once considered the crowning ordinance of the temple. --Religious Advance

Drawn from authentic sources, David Buerger's The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship is an insightful, comprehensive and scholarly history of LDS temple worship. Readers will learn of its humble beginnings in Ohio where members practiced Old Testament-like ceremonies to the adoption and transformation of Masonic ritual in Nauvoo, Illinois, to recent modifications which suggest an adaption to contemporary concerns for appearing relevant to today's political and social issues. The Mormon concept of "continuous revelation is reflected in the dynamics and continuing evolution of Mormon temple worship. Chapters cover the prelude to endowment, the Kirtland Ceremony, Joseph Smith's ritual, Brigham Young's revisions, developments in nineteenth century Utah, the twentieth century temple, and the authors conclusions form his research data. Appendix One features "The December 1845 Meetings of the Holy Order." Appendix Two features "Published Descriptions of the Temple Ceremony." A unique, accurate and insightful publication. --Midwest Book Review

Providing a fascinating chronology of developments associated with Latter-day Saint temples and temple ordinances, this source book discusses the origins of the temple concept, comparative rituals, and changes in ceremonies. Buerger charts the abandonment of the adoption sealing which once linked unrelated families and examines the near disappearance of the second anointing, once considered the crowning ordinance of the temple. --Religious Advance

From the Inside Flap

A veil of secrecy surrounds Mormon temple worship. While officially intended to preserve the sacredness of the experience, this silence often leaves Latter-day Saints mystified.

Until now there has been no scholarly examination of the derivation and development of the temple--something David John Buerger suggests all Mormons should know. By grounding the ceremony's meaning in symbolism and context, Latter-day Saints should find the ritual more enriching. Non-Mormons, too, may better appreciate the syncretic interweaving of old and new traditions in this highest form of Mormon devotion.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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In sum, this was a really good, very interesting read.
Oh Brother
Buerger has done an excellent job of researching and presenting the history behind the origins and developing changes to the Mormon temple ceremonies.
Matthew Bryde
To me, that is the best kind of history - the facts as drawn from circumstances and environment without a specific viewpoint or bias from the author.
GaryTucson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

116 of 129 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Buerger gives an apparently evenhanded historical overview of the sacred temple worship of the Mormon Church. Non-members will find this book revealing, former members will find it reliable, and current members will probably be a bit uncomfortable with the subject discussed. This is not a book about the spiritual aspects of temple worship. It is about the history of temple events and practices, the development of the ceremonies (including the influences of Masonic rituals), as well as ceremonies that are rarely or no longer practiced.
Unlike contemporary texts released by the LDS church, this book does not seem to sugar-coat or sterilize the history of temple worship, and provides a great deal of explicit information that is not easily available, due to the closing the church archives and the sacred nature of temple activities. (Respectfully, the exact ceremony that is used in the temples today is NOT included in this book, however many historical aspects are discussed.) Many diary entries from prominent church members are included, and Buerger makes it clear when he includes entries that may not be entirely reliable.
I found this book to be absolutely fascinating, however, I recommend it to church members only with great caution, as it will surely present some serious and challenging issues to consider.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Bryde on September 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best reads I've had for awhile. Buerger has done an excellent job of researching and presenting the history behind the origins and developing changes to the Mormon temple ceremonies. Every quote cited is referenced and the author's goal "to achieve a balance of scholarly objectivity, reverence for the sacred, regard for the sensitivities of others, and adequate documentation and development of the points to be discussed" is very much achieved admirably in this book. The result is an excellent resource for members and non members alike.

Included in the impressive research taken, this book contains names, dates and frequency of what ceremonies took place when and who was involved, taking the guesswork out of other vague historical accounts on the same topic. It covers the history of what has taken place in the temple from the Kirtland days through to modern day.

Buerger avoids delving into the actual oaths, signs and tokens, which should remove any discomfort from current LDS members reading this - although he does dedicate an Appendix at the back of the book to over a hundred references (only) of published descriptions.

I've been a member now since a child and have been taught at every level (and taught others) much on Church doctrine and history, and I was definitely enlightened from reading this book - I highly recommend it to anyone who desires to learn more on the history of Mormon temple worship, including what has been added, changed or discarded since the first endowment was given, and why.

***** 5 stars
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By GaryTucson on March 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The LDS temple ceremonies have been shrouded in mystery for decades. This well-documented and masterful work covers not only the history and development of these ceremonies but the doctrinal changes that went along with their development. I found the book not only fascinating but extremely well-written, without an axe to grind. Buerger gets to the documented facts and lays them out for the reader to discover and draw their own conclusions. To me, that is the best kind of history - the facts as drawn from circumstances and environment without a specific viewpoint or bias from the author.

This is a book not steeped in difficult to understand doctrines or techobabble of any kind. Anyone even slightly interested in knowing more about the secret/sacred rites of the Utah-based LDS church will benefit from and enjoy this book. It would also make a proud addition to the library of any intelligent, thinking Mormon.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TJ McDonald on July 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There seem to be a lot of reviews questioning the validity of Buerger's sources, so I feel it needs to be said that Buerger is fairly objective in writing "The Mysteries of Godliness." I am a faithful Mormon and very much enjoyed reading the rich sources provided by Buerger. It is true that a lot of the sources are anti-Mormons, but in a lot of cases, this is because only disaffected Mormons would talk about certain things at that time. Anyhow, equal time is given to Church prophets as to disaffected members and dissenters.

Buerger's only occasionally insensitive in regards to the spiritual worth of Temple ceremonies to the members of the Church. But, this is a history book, and so spiritual manifestations and comfort aren't things that Buerger can gauge without becoming more biased.

Overall, I think this is a great book for those seeking to learn more about the history surrounding Latter-day Saint temple ceremonies.
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56 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Blah on May 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The best and by far the most complete study of Mormon temple ceremonies. Not only does it address the endowment and the chages the church has made in their ceremonies(most recently in 1990) but also lesser known ordinaces such as the second endowment. The book is daring in subject matter and approach cutting right to the facts. This book tells it how it is without any display of personal religious viewpoints, which in and of itself is an accomplishment. Nowhere else will you find such a frank and fair description of Mormon ceremonies.
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