As a Mormon and a freemason with long experience with both rituals, the historical connections between the masonic lodge in Nauvoo and the temple ceremonies introduced in Nauvoo are too obvious to ignore. Mr. Brown's scholarly research leads him to the conclusion that masonic ritual has its roots in ancient Christian ritual as opposed to masonry's mythic origins surrounding the building of King Solomon's temple. This is a view held by many leaders in Mormon history. However, scholarly evidence is thin; it is hard to know the actual origins of freemasonry for sure. Even Mr. Brown admits that there is no conclusive documentation for the origins of freemasonry.
Unfortunately, Mr. Brown, at times, lapses into the role of Mormon apologist, leaving objective scholarship behind. He takes the pronouncement of 19th century Mormon leaders on the origins of masonry at face value, though most such theories do not have scholarly support. He tries to distance the temple endowment for masonic ritual by poking holes in the most speculative theories regarding masonry. Few Freemasons would recognize the origins of their fraternity as described by Mr. Brown. The Church and masonry need a better explanation of their connections.
I'm still waiting for the scholarly work that adequately addresses the many masonic forms and symbols that found they way, though some only temporarily, into the temple ceremony. After buying two such attempts by respected LDS scholars, I think I'll borrow the next book first.
This is an important study on the subjection of Mormons and Masons.
Brown puts to rest all arguments suggesting that Joseph Smith "borrowed" masonic rituals for use of the endowment. He doesn't do this with theory but with citable facts and quotes. He goes in depth but at the same time avoid specifics to keep the endowment sacred (he is also respectful of masonic rites and traditions as well). The relationship between Mormons and the Freemasons sparked my intrest and this book COMPLETELY SATISFIED all of my curiousity. If this topic is of intrest to you then this book is a MUST!
I am very glad to see Matthew Brown tackle a topic that has been avoided for years. He does an excellent job in answering the questions on the origin of the Endowment ceremony, in a faithful manner. Several LDS have given in to the critics and believe that Joseph Smith "borrowed" the ceremony from the masons, but Matthew Brown shows the Endowment ceremony to have existed before Masonry. This lines up with several of Joseph Smiths statements regarding it's origin as being a restoration of ancient ceremonies. Now that we are learning more about what the ancients have done, we are seeing that they performed very similar rituals.
This is a great book and would recommend it to anyone. For those who don't like reading, he now has a DVD out on the same subject. Bravo!