2. True Masonry
We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.
CES Letter, Page 107
Joseph Smith taught that the origins of modern temple ordinances go back beyond the foundation of the world (TPJS 271-72).
In addition, the early Saints who wrote on the subject believed that “the endowment and Freemasonry in part emanated from the same ancient spring” and that at least some similarities could be thought of “as remnants from an ancient original” (K. W. Godfrey, Freemasonry and the Temple, p. 529).
Hugh W. Nibley and other scholars in and out of the Church have made notable contributions to temple studies. Such studies have shown that the general concept of a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) expressed in modern temple ordinances is consistent with ancient religious practices. For example, Nicolas Wyatt summarizes a wide range of evidence indicating a broad continuity of culture throughout the ancient Near East wherein the candidate for kingship underwent a ritual journey intended to confer a divine status as a son of God and allowing him “ex officio, direct access to the gods. All other priests were strictly deputies” to the divinely sanctioned priesthood office held by the king (N. Wyatt, Degrees, pp. 192, 220).
One remarkable example of kingship rites comes from the city of Mari in about 1800 BCE (J. M. Bradshaw, Investiture Panel). Despite the fact that this ritual took place in Old Babylon, none of its primary themes will be unfamiliar to temple-going Latter-day Saints — nor to careful students of the Bible. Such resemblances may prove interesting for their bearing on the idea that corrupted versions of temple rites sometimes may have derived from authentic originals that predated the Old Testament as we now have it.
Portions of these original rites seem to have been imperfectly preserved in the teachings and rituals of some strands of second temple Judaism, in the practices of Copts and of Christians with Gnostic leanings, and in the liturgies of Christian Churches (e.g., H. W. Nibley, Temple and Cosmos).
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ronan J. Head. "The investiture panel at Mari and rituals of divine kingship in the ancient Near East." Studies in the Bible and Antiquity 4 (2012): 1-42.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. "Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances." Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 15 (2015): 159-237.
Brown, Matthew B. Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2009.
Godfrey, Kenneth W. "Freemasonry and the temple." In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow. 4 vols. Vol. 2, 528-29. New York City, NY: Macmillan, 1992. http://www.lib.byu.edu/Macmillan/. (accessed November 26, 2007).
Nibley, Hugh W. Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 12. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1992.
Wyatt, Nicolas. "Degrees of divinity: Some mythical and ritual aspects of West Semitic kingship." In 'There's Such Divinity Doth Hedge a King': Selected Essays of Nicolas Wyatt on Royal Ideology in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature, edited by Nicolas Wyatt. Society for Old Testament Study Monographs, ed. Margaret Barker, 191-220. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2005.
Besides the many scattered articles found elsewhere, a quick sampling of titles of monographs and collections of scholarship dedicated to the topic might include, among others: G. N. Anderson, Mormonism and the Temple; L. L. Baker et al., Who Shall Ascend; D. L. Belnap, By Our Rites; J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014); J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath; J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Keys and Symbols; M. B. Brown, Gate; M. B. Brown et al.,Throne; M. B. Brown et al., Ancient Temple Worship; M. B. Brown et al., Symbols; A. L. Gaskill, Lost; A. L. Gaskill, Sacred Symbols; W. J. Hamblin et al., Temple; W. J. Hamblin et al., Temple Insights; G. E. Hansen, Jr. et al., Sacred Walls; J. M. Lundquist, Meeting Place; J. M. Lundquist, Temple of Jerusalem; T. G. Madsen,Temple: Where Heaven; H. W. Nibley, Temple and Cosmos; H. W. Nibley, Message 2005; D. W. Parry, Temples; D. W. Parry et al., Time and Eternity; J. W. Welch,Sermon; J. W. Welch, Light; D. R. Seely et al., Ascending the Mountain of the Lord; J. A. Widtsoe, Temple Worship; J. E. Talmage, The House of the Lord; B. K. Packer, Holy Temple; A. F. Ehat, Ordinances. A massive temple studies bibliography is also being assembled by contributors from the Academy for Temple Studies (D. W. Bachman et al., Temple Studies Bibliography).