Truth, Understanding, Insight

Future Temple

11th March 2013, hej


2) Why Herod's Greco- Roman style Temple is unlikely

Herod used classical styles, but Solomon certainly would not have. The Classical culture was in opposition to the Hebrew one. As Daniel had prophesied, the Greeks had sought to impose their culture on the Hebrews during the rise of the Selucids, leading to the time of the Macabees. Greek architecture is loaded with visual manipulation and meaning, of which reference to the (often partly naked) human form and classical thought exists. Each column type had a story with it.

Modern architecture has none of this, rather it is often about 'truth' in material use and expressing the function it enclosed.

The appearance of a building is more than the measurements of the plans and the materials. The precise form, or shape, of the materials is important. The following is an understanding of the gates of the Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy by an architect. This visualization is based on modern architectural understanding, which might be more Hebrew than Greek. Since the emancipation of Jews in Europe from the late 1800's and the industrial revolution, there has been a revolution in architectural forms globally.

Greek and Roman ideals of building form are called 'Classical' architecture. It went with many rules of composition and an easily identifiable use of decorated columns, arches, proportions and domes.

The late 1800's saw the beginning of an era of more freedom. Arguments from a popular writers to be more 'natural' also led to revival of modified 'Gothic' forms, with realistic motifs, most notably in Britain, then in France and Germany. It was the freedom of the new nature-inspired decoration, and the freeing of the rigidity of symmetry, that led to Art Noveau. The development of steel at first had no effect at all on external forms, except to allow greater spans, as the steel was often clad. Steel began to be used first externally decoratively as plantlike motifs, then also plant-like structure.

Then there was the question whether decoration was needed at all. The world post WW1 began what they call 'Modern'. One of the exemplar cities, among many others, is Tel Aviv. Modern styles emphasised that the 'form' (or three dimensional shape) reflected function (activity in the 'box'), but it really was a freedom from the rigidity of classicism.

It might not have been mere coincidence that the totalitarian regimes in Europe turned to classical, and there was a dominance of Jewish architects among the sizable exodus of modern architects who left in the 1930's for America. The Danish proponent of the modern style, Arne Jacobsen, as a Jew waited out the war in Sweden, to then postwar propel Danish design to the world forefront. In America the affect was even more dramatic. The movement of Jews and those who rejected the totalitarian regime from Germany to America went with a net gain of modern architects to America, and the confirmation of America as a leader of that new approach, though they had been more likely to follow classical ideas before that, than, say, Britain.

Hebrew truth versus Greek appearance

This caused me as an architect to ponder 'why?' Was modernism a Jewish-influenced architectural revolution? Perhaps. It relegated to history the role of the forms of ancient Greek architecture popular in the mid 1800's. At that time the English speaking world placed a high value on 'classical' writings. This value we could not now agree with, as the ancient Greek writings have been shown in some cases to have prevented scientific progress, and more seriously, to often be in conflict with the Bible.

Israel's ancient building forms were simpler and very different from Ancient Greek. Sadly much is made of the Temple Herod made. He used both Greek and Roman classical forms to decorate its surrounding courts. Some might admire the fancy workmanship of Greek style. Our Lord was not an admirer.

And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, “As for these things which ye behold (Mark has 'See thou these great buildings?'), the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (Luke 21:5-6, Matt 24:2)

In other words he was not impressed. It is a possibility our God was not impressed.

For one, Herod could have used acanthus decorations, as he used elsewhere in his realm. They were a symbol of a Greek idea of eternity. By contrast the pillars of Solomon's temple were decorated with 200 pomegranates (I kings 7:20).


I have tested the plan measurements for the gates and drawn them to scale, and conclude they are rational. The overall plans give the scope of a massive building. The plans linked to here are 1:100. They show only the outer gate. There is another building which has the same dimensions 100 cubits away or about 50m, over a pavement. Imagine a courtyard. What if the pavement was also a place of beauty, with fountains and plants?

Yet also the building itself features palms.

NEXT PAGE... Palm trees


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