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THE STRUCTURE OF GEORGE HERBERT'S TEMPLE: A RECONSIDERATION ANNABEL M. ENDICO'IT One of the more prolific symbols which Christian commentators tool over from the Jewish religio'; was that of the Temple in Jerusalem Some of the traditional exegesis on this building was recently brough to light in an article by J. D. Walker, who invoked it in an interpreta tion of George Herbert's Temple.' The division of Herbert's book intI "The Church Porch," ''The Church," and "The Church Militant," i was suggested, can be explained by the Hebraic Temple's tripartit( division into porch, holy place, and holy of holies.2 The purpose of m) article is partly negative-to deny emphatically the structural analog) between Herbert's Temple and the Hebrew one; and partly positive- t< provide some additional knowledge about the use of this symbol in th, Renaissance, and to show that Herbert would almost certainly haY< been aware both of its complexities and its disadvantages. The adoption of the Hebrew Temple by Christianity was of dubiom value because the whole rationale of the building was antipathetic te Christian thought. As Joseph Hall commented, the structure of the Hebrew Temple was progressively discriminatory: I finde one Courte of the Temple open to the uncleane, to the uncircumcized : Within that, another, open onely to the Israelites; and of them, to the cleane; within that, yet another proper onely to the Priests and Levites.... The eyes of the Laitie might follow their oblations in hither, their feet might not. ... Yet more, in the covered roomes of the Temple, there is, whither the Priests only may enter, not the Levites; there is, whither the high Priest oneIy may enter, not his brethren.s Early Christian churches, on the other hand, whether or not for purely practical reasons, were almost democratic in structure, deSigned to include large numbers of people. Christian basilicas probably borrowed their form from public meeting places. And their name is pleasantly rationalized by Donne, since "the Church is not onely Domus Dei, but Basilica; not onely his house, but his Court: he doth not onely dwell there, but reigne there: which multiplies the joy of his houshold servants.'" Also, in the holy of holies the mystery of the Presence was expressed by total darkness and hidden by a partition or veil, in Christian Volume XXXIV, Number 3, April, 1965 THE STRUCTURE OF GEORGE HERDERT'S Temple 227 churches the mystery was expressed by the altar in full view at the eastern end, and often framed by brilliant mosaic on arch and apse. Nevertheless, the image of the Temple retained its hold on the imagination as the centre of so much Old and New Testament activity, and the name came to be freely applied to the Christian Church. If we continue with the same sermon from Donne, we come upon an explanation which goes beyond fanciful etymology in its wary longing to account for this seeming contradiction in terms: But of all Names ... the name of Temple seems to be most large and significant , as they derive it aTuendo; for Tueri signifies both our beholding, and contemplating God in the Church, and it signifies Gods protecting and defending those that are his.... And therefore, though in the very beginning of the Primitive Church, to depart from the custome, and language, and phrase of the Jews, and Gentiles, as farre as they could, they did much abstain from this name of Temple. ... Yet when ... the Christian Church, and doctrine was established, from that time downward, all the Fathers did freely and safely call the Church the Temple. ... As the Apostle had given a good patterne, how to expresse the principall holinesse of the Saints of God, he chooses to doe it, in that word, ye are the Temples of the holy Ghost. In other words, the Temple had such emotional value as a symbol of organized and housed religion, even if of the superseded religion, that it became desirable, after a period of caution, and with certain mental reservations, to use it as a metaphorical name for the Church. It was a metaphor which was capable of almost unlimited extension into the realms of analogy and typology, as we shall see. One of the simpler patterns of analogy which developed was between the three rooms of the Temple and the three stages of Christian life. The porch, the scene of ritual purification, corresponded to Christian conversion ; the holy place, or mid-temple, to religiOUS activity within the Church; and the holy of holies to the final stage of union with God after death. As noted by Walker, this scheme appears in the writings of Joseph Hall. Hall's scheme, however, is not simple, as will appear if the whole of his exegesis is taken into account. Hall sees the holy of holies not merely as heaven, but as the heaven "into which our true highPriest , Christ Jesus, entred Once for all to make an atonement betwixt God and man.'" He goes on to elaborate other patterns. He observes that the proportions of the Temple were those of the human body, in that "the height was thrice the breadth, and the breadth one third of the height," referring by this tautology, apparently, to the combined length of holy place and holy of holies, which was sixty cubits, and their width, which was 228 ANNABEL ENDICOTT twenty cubits. And, with some sleight of hand, he declares that these ar, also the measurements of the Church Militant, or visible Church, sino "there is a necessary inequality, without any disproportion," and of tho Church Triumphant, because "it hath a length of eternity, answere, with a height of perfection, and a breadth of incomprehensible glory. And he concludes with an elaborate comparison between the variou articles of furniture in the Temple and the various qualities of ; Christian soul. The second pattern already noted was an analogy between the physica structures of the Temple and the universe. The various versions of thi: scheme suggest that the commentators started with the idea of the hoI) of holies as God's heaven, and then tried to extend the pattern down wards, with varying degrees of appropriateness. Apparently several of th, Church Fathers held the scheme to be: holy of holies holy place porch God's heaven heavens (in the sense of sky) Earth" Hall, however, elsewhere in the Contemplations, confines his analogy te three layers of heavens: This lowest Heaven for Fowles, for Vapours, for Meteors: The second, fOJ the Starres: The third, for thine Angels and Saints: The nrst is thine out· ward Court, open for all: The second is the body of thy covered Temple, wherein are those Candles of Heaven perpetually hurning: the third is thine Holy of Holies. In the nrst is Tumult and Vanity: In the second Immutability &Rest: In the third, Glory and Blessednesse.7 Hall's analogy between the famous candelabra of the holy place and the stars of the sky provides a clue to the other traditional scheme just men· tioned, in which the holy place was also compared to the sky; and we may notice that the moral implications of the hierarchy, whether the porch be compared to third heaven or earth, remain the same. We can also find a scheme which appears to combine both of these, in a commentary on Genesis by Lancelot Andrewes: ... for as there was in the Temple of Salomon Sanctum & Sanctum Sanetarum, so in the great Temple of the world there is Coelum & Coelum Coelorum, to answer to it. In the upper and higher Heavens, as was shadowed in the Temple, is the mercy Seat, the Altar, and the Propiciatory; but in the nether is atrium . . . that is, a division of severall Courts for Starres, Clouds1 Fowls, Men, &c. Between the higher and the nether Heavens, as it was in the Temple, there is a Vail or Curtain spread ... which doth part the one from the other." THE STRUCTURE OF GEORGE HERBERT'S Temple 229 There are several curious points here: first, there is the delight of the Renaissance mind in the correspondence between the Latin names, Sanctum and Sanctum Sanetorum, Coelum and Coelum Coelorum; second, although Andrewes appears to confine himself to the two upper divisions of the Temple, when we look more closely we realize that for him the lower includes the porch and its surrounding courts, and the mention of "Men, &c." implies that the lower heavens include Earth. The division really seems to be between the visible universe, where God is revealed only through his creation, but which is nevertheless good (Sanctum), and an invisible heaven, where his Presence is immediate, and which is perfect. In view of this passage, it is odd to find Andrewes elsewhere rather scornful of cosmological analogies, which he relegates to the time·wasting activities of Rabbins. The Church Fathers, he asserts, "bestowed their time and travaile more to the point" in working out a different analogy, that between the Temple and Christ" This was, of course, first suggested by Christ himself when he promised metaphorically to destroy the temple of his body and raise it again in three days (John 2: 19). Andrewes devotes a whole sermon to this text, and since it was one of the XCVI Sermons first published in 1629, it would have been available fO Herbert, just entering his ministry, should he have wished to learn from the sermOns of others. Andrewes conveniently subdivides this exegesis into four main branches: "I. Whither you looke to the composition or parts of it. 2. Or to the furniture, and vesselIs of it. 3. Or, to what was done in it. 4. Or, to what was done to it." And although he proposes, for the sake of brevity, to confine himself to the fourth, he manages to work in a good deal of information belonging to Sections I and 2 under the appearance of keeping to his text. Thus the two tables of the Law, which were broken but remade, are "the type of the true treasures of Wisedome and Knowledge hid in Him," and the vessel of manna is a "perfect resemblance." The Urna, or the vessell being made of earth, so earthly; The Manna, the contents of it, being from heaven, SO heavenly: The Manna (we know) would not keepe past two ti£

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ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 226-237
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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