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Masonry essay on the church website

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I may have mentioned this before, but the Natives (first nations ) in my area have similar sacred signs etc. I don't think they got them from any Masonry traditions but from their own going back centuries. 

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20 minutes ago, pogi said:

Were they detained and forced to make the covenant in someway?

Not at all...their biggest fear was the cost of a reception that would never be if they walked out.

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45 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Depends upon the group and/or rite. Typically they were either tied to Solomon's temple or an Egyptian counterpart of Abraham, Thoth, who was part of the hermetic tradition. Of course the hermetic tradition which arose in late antiquity itself from copying in large part from various Roman mystery religions and rites that purportedly came from Egypt alongside of gnostic and platonic traditions and standard pagan religion of the era. So the legendary origins of Masonry are largely nonsense, but they most definitely do go back to antiquity.

My understanding is this: Masonic rites go back to the middle ages, and purported links to antiquity are Masonic tall tales, or at best parallelomania.

 

https://archive.org/details/The_Antiquities_Of_Freemasonry_-_G_Oliver

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

What’s the difference between appropriation and plagiarism?  If the original endowment language were an essay submitted in a class I was teaching, school policy would require me to treat it as plagiarism and the author would be in jeopardy of expulsion.  

It seems to me that both the Masons and Joseph ultimately attributed what they had from the same non-copyrighted source. Otherwise it would be plagiarizing when people pass their ancestors' genetic code to their offspring and say, "She has my eyes."

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35 minutes ago, Gray said:

My understanding is this: Masonic rites go back to the middle ages, and purported links to antiquity are Masonic tall tales, or at best parallelomania.

https://archive.org/details/The_Antiquities_Of_Freemasonry_-_G_Oliver

The legends of Masonic orgins are myths and largely fabulous. It's assumed (although almost impossible to confirm) that the tokens of identification were actually used by practical stonemasons to identify other members of the guild. This was particularly necessary during the large building boom particularly of cathedrals. It'd let skilled tradesmen know who was or wasn't a tradesmen and also identify members of the guild. Some of the symbols and clothing arises out of practical masonry practices. Masonry as a fraternity of the sort we're thinking of arises in the late 16th century and is mostly in place by the 1590's. 

What's sometimes called speculative Masonry then gets going. It's assumed that Giodano Bruno, due to being in the right place and influence, helped shaped some of that. (See Francis Yates Giodano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition for a bit on that) Around the same time you have the rise of more esoteric traditions persisting out of the Renaissance. There are secret groups around the same time particularly in France and Germany although the main development takes place in Scotland. All of this is combined in an odd way with the Enlightenment (thus France and Scotland) and rationality but also a very odd looking back at the past and thus hermeticism, cabalism and paganism. Masonry very quickly shifts from actual working stone masons into an organization consisting more of the elites and their philosophical speculations.

The links to antiquity (which really aren't purported - most of them are fairly easy to establish particularly the hermetic ones) arise because of the influx of new texts during the Renaissance due to the fall of Constantinople and the refugees fleeing to the west in the mid 15th century. The rise of the printing press then allows texts to gain wider audiences. This is in large measure what breaks the place of Aristotle in theology (although many people are surprised to learn that Aquinas only becomes a key figure in the Renaissance and not during his lifetime). You have all these platonic texts - both actual translations of Plato but also Islamic platonic writings along with the Corpus Hermeticum, Iamblichus, Proculus, and Plotinus. This in turn causes the rise of the Cambridge Platonists and a very platonic character to Masonry. You also have lots of writings about paganism, both the formal Greek and Roman myths, but also other rites including traditions about pagan mysteries. Initially, particularly in the Renaissance there are lots of silly ideas about all this. So the Corpus Hermeticum is seen as very ancient going back to Moses or Abraham rather than a 3rd or 4th century work of late antiquity. Cabalistic texts appropriated from Jews start to become significant carrying with them a mystic tradition as well as traditions about merkabah ascents and more. Most of the Masonic conceptions of all this have a very mystical and platonic character to them. Not only in the 17th and 18th century but well into the 19th and arguably to this day.

So the antiquity is fairly explicit connections to platonic philosophers, pagan myths, hermeticism, cabalism and more. You also have explicit ties to the Renaissance form of the Art of Memory, speculative ideas by relatively famous Renaissance philosophers and of course the remnant of Renaissance ideas about antiquity, platonic harmonies, alchemy, astrology and more. In their "high form" these persist among elites in Masonry. In their "low form" these persist among the laity in magic and the occult. Although you often find them combined, such in the main figures in 18th century French Masonry and the occult.

There are practical issues as well. So the anti-Jacobian movement in France requires secrecy, tokens of identification so no one knows who is or isn't an anti-Jacobian and so forth. All this culminates with the rise of Napolean and the Napoleonic wards of 1812 which not at all coincidentally is the same period when Masonry itself finally stops being in such flux and starts to formalize and regularize their rites across Europe.

The best book on the origins of Masonry, btw, is David Stevenson's The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotlands Century, 1590-1710. That doesn't get into the French issues which largely all take place in the 18th century. But it does get into the origin of formal Masonry and the first three main rites that are the primary influence on Mormonism. Although Royal Arch Masonry of the later York Rite also plays a significant influence. However there's not a lot of documentation for the details here. Further a lot of what is there is interpreted very figuratively along platonic lines.

Edited by clarkgoble
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53 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

I may have mentioned this before, but the Natives (first nations ) in my area have similar sacred signs etc. I don't think they got them from any Masonry traditions but from their own going back centuries. 

Nibley and Compton talk about native American signs of recognition as well. Quoting from this site. I think that particularly Nibley is looking at it through a very Mormon lense but the ideas are there.

Quote

From Todd Compton, “The Handclasp and Embrace as Tokens of Recognition” in BSAF 1:611-643, ft. 54.

Frank Waters, The Book of the Hopi (New York: Viking Press, 1963), 252, writes that Hopi tradition records the original meeting of Hopis and Spaniards, saying “that Tovar and his men were conducted to Oraibi. They were met by all the clan chiefs at Tawtoma, as prescribed by prophecy, where four lines of sacred meal were drawn. The Bear Clan leader stepped up to the barrier and extended his hand, palm up, to the leader of the white men. If he was indeed the true Pahana, the Hopis knew he would extend his own hand, palm down, and clasp the Bear Clan leader’s hand to form the nakwach, the ancient symbol of brotherhood. Tovar instead curtly commanded one of his men to drop a gift into the Bear chief’s hand, believing that the Indian wanted a present of some kind. Instantly all the Hopi chiefs knew that Pahana had forgotten the ancient agreement made between their peoples at the time of their separation. Nevertheless, the Spaniards were escorted up to Oraibi, fed and quartered, and the agreement explained to them. It was understood that when the two were finally reconciled, each would correct the other’s laws and faults; they would live side by side and share in common all the riches of the land and join their faiths in one religion that would establish the truth of life in a spirit of universal brotherhood. The Spaniards did not understand, and having found no gold, they soon departed.” [Cf. 151, 344: nakwa is a mark of identification; nakwach is a symbol of brotherhood.]

Hugh Nibley’s interpretation of this story:

-In 1540 when Pedro de Tovar came up to Bear Chief, who was standing to greet him on the rise at Old Oraibi, the chief reached out his hand to establish the visitor’s identity by offering him the sacred handclasp, the nachwach—was he really the promised White Brother? Naturally, the Spaniard, who had come looking for gold and nothing else, thought he was asking for money and placed a gold coin in his hand. Have you any signs or tokens? asked the chief. Yes, I have money, replied the visitor. From that moment the Hopis knew it was not the one they were looking for, and to this day they have never been converted to Christianity. We are most fortunate in possessing Satan’s game-plan, which he gave away in a fit of temper in the Garden of Eden. The perennial source of wealth, the treasures of the earth, are to be controlled by the convenient symbols of a money economy, gold and silver; these are used to buy up kings and presidents, armies and navies, popes and priests. They are controlled by “secret combinations, to get power and gain” (Ether 8:22; cf. 8:18-19), and the result is rule by violence. Adam rejected the plan, but Cain bought into it, and so became “master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain” (Moses 5:31)—the great design which at last is nearing fulfillment in our day of converting all living things into marketable commodities.

Hugh Nibley, Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints (FARMS/Deseret Book): p.98-99.

 

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The endowment ceremony is pretty unoriginal. Much more so than the article is trying to claim. All of the core elements of the endowment are directly copied from Masonry. All of them. I think some on here would be pretty astonished to know exactly how much is identical.

I have tried but I just can't accept the "catalyst" explanation. It is plagiarism.

Edited by 10THAmendment

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2 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Plagiarism is an issue in scholarship where copying is tightly regulated and must be explicitly documented. There's nothing like that in the ancient world nor even in most of the modern world until the rise of formal scholarship and copyright in the 19th century. Certainly the Masons didn't document the sources they used to produce their initial rites nor the additional rights one finds in the York rites or more esoteric forms of Masonry. One can unpack some of them based upon well known texts like the Corpus Hermeticum or various Cabalistic texts. But by and large it's all speculative.

It seems odd to complain about Joseph Smith plagiarizing texts/rites that were themselves largely "plagiarized" from more ancient and Renaissance texts.

I’m not complaining about it really, it has been an apologetic argument of the past to downplay connections with Masonry, I’m actually glad for the more honest acknowledgment in this article.  And I’m quite aware that the scriptures are riddled with what we would consider plagiarism today, including all the psuedopedgraphical writers.  

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1 hour ago, CV75 said:

It seems to me that both the Masons and Joseph ultimately attributed what they had from the same non-copyrighted source. Otherwise it would be plagiarizing when people pass their ancestors' genetic code to their offspring and say, "She has my eyes."

Well with all those wives there potentially could have been a lot of offspring with Joseph’s eyes.  😜

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2 hours ago, Jeanne said:

Not at all...their biggest fear was the cost of a reception that would never be if they walked out.

That was a bigger fear than not getting married?

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9 hours ago, Gray said:

Is this new?

A friend checked and said the link has been there since Nov 15, but wayback only documents the article since a few weeks ago; so possibly a couple of months old, but maybe only a few weeks.

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4 hours ago, 10THAmendment said:

The endowment ceremony is pretty unoriginal. Much more so than the article is trying to claim.

The article tries to be open to a catalyst theory but Joseph and others of course considered the endowment coming out of masonry with most of masonry being corrupt. The article does note that. However anyone even remotely familiar with the first three Masonic degrees and the other degrees of the York Rite will see that most of the Masonic rites aren't in the endowment and there's a lot in the endowment not arising out of Masonry. The main signs and tokens of course mostly come out of Masonry, although as others noted they differ somewhat and most definitely have a different thrust in the endowment. 

Anyway I would say few claim the endowment is original and Joseph and company actually claim the opposite. Elements certainly are in Masonry. The bigger question is what elements were in the ancient world. It doesn't take much research to see there's a lot more overtly there than is in Masonry.

4 hours ago, 10THAmendment said:

I think some on here would be pretty astonished to know exactly how much is identical.

I have tried but I just can't accept the "catalyst" explanation. It is plagiarism.

I bet most here are quite familiar with both.

I'd say "plagiarism or catalyst" is a false dichotomy. Especially in what's a ritualistic or artful production. It's like saying artists are all plagiarists when they copy an element from someone else. Typically an artist isn't called a plagiarist unless the whole work is substantially copied. Even in music it's relatively recent that the idea even appeared and then it's primarily due to copyright and royalties. So was Elvis a plagiarist or someone appropriating older music and styles in a new form? Is for instance Michael Jackson, well into the age of extensive copyright lawsuits unlike the 1840's, a plagiarist for appropriating dance moves from Bob Fosse? Especially if Jackson acknowledged being taught by Fosse much like Smith acknowledged Masonry?

This is a pretty complex area. While in texts plagiarism for quotations is pretty cut and dried. For performances particularly dance-like motions (which I'd call the issues in play from Masonry) things are much more complex. And let's acknowledge this whole issue is itself primarily an issue of the age we find ourselves in and largely developed in the 20th century - although elements definitely do go back to the 19th century. I just think "plagiarism" is an inappropriate term even as I acknowledge some elements are the same as Masonry and other elements are similar yet somewhat different. Again, it's fairly easy to look up the signs and tokens of the first three degrees of Masonry. 

3 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I’m not complaining about it really, it has been an apologetic argument of the past to downplay connections with Masonry, I’m actually glad for the more honest acknowledgment in this article.  And I’m quite aware that the scriptures are riddled with what we would consider plagiarism today, including all the psuedopedgraphical writers.  

Not for some time I think. If you're talking 70's or 80's then sure. 90's onward I think most apologists have accepted the connections. Now they may disagree on how extensive the connections between Mormonism and Masonry are - focusing just on the signs and tokens. There I definitely disagree with some apologists such as the pages at FAIR. I think some apologists focus just on the three core Masonic degrees and ignore the parallels with particularly Royal Arch Masonry and the York Rite as a whole. They also tend to dismiss parallels with French Masonry such as Egyptian Masonry or Adoptive Masonry, although that's a bit more understandable given the lack of clear influence on Joseph. I also think some downplay exposure to Masonry prior to his entrance into Masonry in Nauvoo. I also think there's a lot of Masonic connections in the Egyptian papyri work, although I'll fully admit I'm not as well versed in things there.

With respect to the Church's page, I do wish they'd quoted more of Kimball's statement. The essay has, 

  • Kimball wrote of the endowment, noting that “there is a similarity of priesthood in masonry.” He told Pratt that Joseph believed Masonry was “taken from priesthood but has become degenerated.”

The full Kimball quote is

  • We have received some precious things through the Prophet on the Priesthood which would cause your soul to rejoice. I cannot give them to you on paper for they are not to be written so you must come and get them for yourself...There is a similarity of Priesthood in Masonry. Brother Joseph says Masonry was taken from Priesthood but has become degenerated. But many things are perfect. (emphasis mine)

That "many things are perfect" better explains why some things are exactly the same. Although to be fair, there were exact copying from Masonry with elements we now see as non-essential trappings such as the Seven Points of Fellowship removed in 1990.

 

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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If Masonic legends of tokens and signs going back to antiquity are considered myths created by more modern Masons, what are we to make of statements from early church leaders that the Masons took their signs from the ancient ceremony. That latter narrative seems to accept the antiquity myths as at least party true. 

Edited by Brian 2.0
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11 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Well with all those wives there potentially could have been a lot of offspring with Joseph’s eyes.  😜

Ha ha... According to to the manuscripts Masonry is traced back to Adam (the first Mason), and we can all be said to have Adam's eyes (figuratively as a result of rites and also genetically).

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17 hours ago, JAHS said:

The last line of that says it all. The means by which those truths are taught and made binding to us are secondary to what the main purpose is; to teach those truths. So either by revelation or borrowing the source of the mechanics of the ordinance don't really matter so much. 

I agree but would suggest it's possible to take it a step farther.

It may not matter that the signs and tokens were appropriated from masonic tradition because a greater truth was being taught, but it's also possible that temple ordinances may be more about helping a person orient themselves to be god-facing than teaching literal, absolute truth about the origin of humankind, the universe, God, and very specific actions people must take to return to God. Maybe the temple is attempting to teach something much more basic about the relationship between humans and God than the very specific teachings that have attempted to fill in the gaps of understanding.

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Thanks for posting this, as I've been thinking about the topic lately.

Seems like one theory is:

Adam and Eve were taught the truth - the full Endowment - during their lives.

They taught their posterity in Adam ondi Ahman, what may be considered an ancient wall-less Temple.

Some left Adam and Eve and diluted/apostatized part of the ordinance while keeping other parts

The righteous biblical patriarchs passed down the priesthood and this ordinance (sans Temple?)

Noah received the ordinance from Methuselah

(A careful examination of the record of the patriarchs in this section of Genesis shows that Methuselah died in the year of the Flood. Some have wondered why he was not taken on the ark with Noah and have concluded that he may have been wicked. The book of Moses, however, shows that the lineage given in this part of the record traces the righteous patriarchal line (see Moses 6:23), and Methuselah was in that line. Moses 8:3 records that Methuselah was not taken with the city of Enoch so that the line could be continued. Also, Methuselah prophesied that through his own seed would spring all nations of the earth (through the righteous Noah). Clearly, he too was righteous. Then is added this sentence: “And he took glory unto himself” (Moses 8:3). Once his work was done he may have been translated too, for during the nearly seven hundred years from the time the city of Enoch was translated until the time of the Flood the righteous Saints were translated and joined Enoch’s people (see Moses 7:27; see also McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 804).)https://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-student-manual-genesis-2-samuel/genesis-4-11-the-patriarchs?lang=eng

Noah and his wife taught their posterity.

Some left Noah and his wife and diluted/apostatized part of the ordinance while keeping other parts.

The Tabernacle Moses built had the ordinance (but under the Levitical priesthood? not Melchezidek?)

The righteous biblical patriarchs passed down the priesthood and this ordinance (within the Tabernacle / Mobile Temple?)

Solomon's Temple is built, possibly by Masons using masonry in masonic ways, (930 BC) and the ordinance continues until the Temple is destroyed 587 BC, around the time of Lehi's exodus.

Lehi and his posterity, some of them, build Temples in the Promised Land, and the ordinances are passed on (600 BC - 420 AD)

The Savior on the Mount of Transfiguration receives this ordinance.  Later, He administers it to His Disciples? They pass it on in the Temple Jesus attended more than once?

Lost Tribes continue Temple ordinances while being hidden/lost?

Apostasy

Restoration in 1830 AD

Temple ordinance restoration occurs while Joseph Smith seeks truths from any and all sources of truth as we're all encouraged to do.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Calm said:

That was a bigger fear than not getting married?

Apparently....kind of shocked I guess and didn't know what to do.  I cannot speak for all of them because I have not received any endowments in the temples.....but they came close to leaving but let it go...like my mom, some never went back again.

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22 hours ago, Tacenda said:

I was asked to make covenants without knowing what the covenants were but told before the session started that I could leave if I felt like I couldn't make those covenants. So how was I to know if it wasn't something I'd like to do? Terrible way to go about something, even in a contract you sign you go in knowing the details, something wrong with this picture. I wonder if the church will change the temple so much that one day they'll give members the information before they have to make those unseen covenants.

I agree - especially for those who go through for the first time for marriage - I did not know marriage would be nothing more than the new and everlasting polygamy covenant - but if you walk out, looks like you are walking out on your spouse.  It is a form of duress & coercion - contracts are null and void when made under duress.  

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On 2/1/2019 at 1:44 PM, MustardSeed said:

Has anyone ever seen someone going through for first time thoughtfully stand up and say, sorry, this particular promise is just too much or unreasonable for me to sign on for.?

No, all of the people I worked with on living endowments and others I have been with during their first endowment appeared as individuals that could understand English and not a single one ever left the session or commented afterward, "Dang, I should have had an attorney review this contract before putting put into the position of signing off on it."  

Haters are going to hate and then there is everyone else having a good time. Cheers

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22 hours ago, Calm said:

A friend checked and said the link has been there since Nov 15, but wayback only documents the article since a few weeks ago; so possibly a couple of months old, but maybe only a few weeks.

Thank you!

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23 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I also think some downplay exposure to Masonry prior to his entrance into Masonry in Nauvoo. I also think there's a lot of Masonic connections in the Egyptian papyri work, although I'll fully admit I'm not as well versed in things there.

Well this passage from a very early Masonic document written in 1450 AD called The Cooke Manuscript" is certainly interesting when compared to what we find in the BofA.

Quote

But it is only reasonable that we should tell you how Euclid came to the knowledge of Geometry, as stated in the Bible and in other histories. In the XIIth chapter of Genesis it is told how Abraham came to the land of Canaan and our Lord appeared unto him and said, "I will give this land to thy seed." But a great famine reigned in that land and Abraham took Sarah, his wife, with him and made a journey into Egypt to abide there whilst the famine lasted . And Abraham, so says the chronicle, was as a wise man and a learned. And he knew all the seven sciences and taught the Egyptians the science of Geometry. And this worthy clerk Euclid was his pupil and learned of him. And he first gave it the name of Geometry; although it was practised before his time, it had not acquired the name of Geometry. But it is said by Isodoras in the 5th Book and first Chapter of Ethomolegiarum that Euclid was one of the first founders of Geometry and gave it that name. For in his time, the river of Egypt which is called the Nile so overflowed the land that no man could dwell therein. Then the worthy clerk Euclid taught them to make great walls and ditches to keep back the water, and by Geometry he measured the land and parcelled it out into sections and caused every man to enclose his own portion with walls and ditches and thus it became a country abounding in all kinds of produce, and of young people and of men and women : so that the youthful population increased so much as to render earning a livelihood difficult.

 

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29 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Well this passage from a very early Masonic document written in 1450 AD called The Cooke Manuscript" is certainly interesting when compared to what we find in the BofA.

 

Masonic histories that were available in the early 1800s often included these stories. Like this book, for example. It makes me wonder how much of the Masonic myths Joseph Smith was aware of.

From what I understand all of the medieval Masonic manuscripts trace their origins back to Egypt. The Egyptian mysteries were traced back to the antediluvian stone pillars that were supposed to have been rediscovered by the Egyptians and were written by Enoch in some versions of the story. That's a really old story and shows up in Josephus and lots of other places. Alchemy and hermeticism also traditionally traced their origins to this same story. Whether there is any truth to it, it's hard to say. I'm doubtful whether any of the specific rituals can be traced back that far, but some aspects of the general esoteric worldview and cosmology can be plausibly traced back to antiquity.

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On 2/1/2019 at 2:40 PM, Thinking said:

Vague.

How about this? In the original endowment, the signs, tokens and penalties (which have been removed) were essentially identical.

Not to mention the 5 points of fellowship.  This was a direct copy.

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

Well this passage from a very early Masonic document written in 1450 AD called The Cooke Manuscript" is certainly interesting when compared to what we find in the BofA.

That's before the Scottish Masonry that is Masonry proper. But certainly the hermetic texts were available much earlier. The tradition in Europe is that Thoth or Hermes Trismegistus, the mythic originator of the tradition was a contemporary of Abraham. They were often tied together. 

I confess I don't see much connection to the Book of Abraham in that, although there are definitely some other elements. The move at the end of our Abraham text to redoing Genesis 1-3 some have tied to the Poemandres, one of the main Hermetic texts and in a certain way a kind of platonic pagan retelling of creation and influenced by Genesis. Again though it's a 4th century text, although through much of the Renaissance was seen as much more ancient. The older tradition persisted in Masonry even though by then scholars knew it was from the end of antiquity and not the time of Moses or Abraham. Further they also knew there were Jewish and Christian appropriation by the hermetic authors rather than a precursor as Renaissance philosophers and magicians thought. That is they got the influence backwards.

You definitely do find elements of Masonry much earlier though. As I said earlier Giordano Bruno's rebirth of paganism was injected in. Fludd's work on "cabalism" (more or less lifting parts out of Judaism) along with platonism and hermeticism was a big part.  You can find art with some of the grips and signs in earlier Renaissance art. While in Masonry the gammadia is the square from practical masonry and the compass is similar figure. Yet you find these is geometry going back to Euclid as your link notes. While it's not clear the typical assumption is that the geometric, platonic and hermetic conception of those figures gets brought into Masonry in Scotland and tied to the working compass and square of actual stone masons. You certainly find the symbols in both Renaissance Italy and earlier in Rome both during the medieval period and the earlier ancient era.

The issue as I said isn't whether these are ancient symbols. They most definitely are. The issue is when they got merged into a more platonic mystical tradition in Masonry. (Although by the 19th century the mystic elements were becoming ethical elements)

36 minutes ago, mapman said:

Masonic histories that were available in the early 1800s often included these stories. Like this book, for example. It makes me wonder how much of the Masonic myths Joseph Smith was aware of.

 There certainly are exposes of Masonry as well as pro-Masonic books available in Joseph's era going through elements. You can do a quick Google Books search by date and find the ones available to him. 

36 minutes ago, mapman said:

From what I understand all of the medieval Masonic manuscripts trace their origins back to Egypt. The Egyptian mysteries were traced back to the antediluvian stone pillars that were supposed to have been rediscovered by the Egyptians and were written by Enoch in some versions of the story. That's a really old story and shows up in Josephus and lots of other places. Alchemy and hermeticism also traditionally traced their origins to this same story. Whether there is any truth to it, it's hard to say. I'm doubtful whether any of the specific rituals can be traced back that far, but some aspects of the general esoteric worldview and cosmology can be plausibly traced back to antiquity.

I think you're conflating the Corpus Hermeticum with Masonry. They're really not the same thing although the hermetic tradition through the rosicrucian tradition is a big influence on Masonry both via Schaw and Bruno and then later others. It's around the end of the 14th century that the texts make their way to the west and become one of the major influences on the Renaissance. Ficino in particular is a huge popularizer of them offering Latin translations in the 15th century. 

Masonry has lots of influences of which hermeticism is just one.  You also have the Christian appropriation of Kabbalism, Platonism particular the more religious form of Iamblichus, The Art of Memory, and a lot else. The Art of Memory in particular I think is a huge influence and indirectly one of the more interesting influences on the endowment perhaps suggesting something about its nature.

Anyway, none of these texts trace their origins to Egypt although they all have a pseudo-Egyptian nature to them that was popular in late antiquity.  There's also a heavy gnostic influence and some of these texts were found at Nag Hammadi as well. There's some indirect Egyptian connection - partially from pagan mystery religions that were popular in Rome in the 1st century and which persisted somewhat until the end of paganism. Those were given a more thorough philosophical and formal grounding by Iamblichus and others before Christianity totally dominated the Roman region.

23 hours ago, Brian 2.0 said:

If Masonic legends of tokens and signs going back to antiquity are considered myths created by more modern Masons, what are we to make of statements from early church leaders that the Masons took their signs from the ancient ceremony. That latter narrative seems to accept the antiquity myths as at least party true. 

There's two ways to look at it. One is just that they accepted Masonry at face value, knew some parts weren't right but weren't completely sure which. So they assumed they actually did come from the Temple of Solomon. The more likely conception is that Masonry indirectly gets them via gnosticism through hermeticism and gnosticism stole them originally from Christianity. Certainly the many gnostic texts discovered in the 19th and 20th century give us a much better understanding of gnosticism than was had in the Renaissance. What Mormons consider key to the temple is found in such texts. Especially texts like 1 Jeu, 2 Jeu, or The Gospel of Philip. There's early Christian writings saying the gnostics were stealing information. Creedal Christianity rejects those elements as ever being part of Christianity and denies the more mystery religion elements of Christianity. Joseph Smith restores Christianity as a mystery religion by taking elements of masonry that preserved these elements that were in gnosticism. So Joseph, Brigham, Heber and company were right, although they didn't know the actual history by which corrupt priesthood remnants entered into masonry.

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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On 2/1/2019 at 4:21 PM, strappinglad said:

I may have mentioned this before, but the Natives (first nations ) in my area have similar sacred signs etc. I don't think they got them from any Masonry traditions but from their own going back centuries. 

Do you have a reference, I'd love to read about this.

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