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The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship Hardcover – December, 1994
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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 transofrmation 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 from 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
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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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
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.