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Book Review - The Hiram Key

by Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas

Review by Richard M. S. Irwin

H ere is an adventure that traces the its ideas from the Egypt of the Pyramid Builders through to modern day Freemasonry. Central to the whole are the Templars and what it was the original knights of the order discovered in the Temple of Jerusalem when they were first founded in the 12th Century. The book is full of exciting discoveries, but, alas, suffers from some major flaws.

T he book centres around the origins of Freemasonry. It shows the modern Freemasons as having no idea of the meaning of their secret rituals. It makes a strong case that those rituals descend from the Templars. It also makes a strong case for there being some wonderful secrets to be discovered at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Indeed, if the authors succeed in persuading the Chapel authorities to commence an archaeological exploration of the Chapel then I shall be on tenterhooks awaiting the outcome. They are certainly not the first people to try to put this into motion, for example Andrew Sinclair's, whose excellent "The Sword and The Grail" puts the chapel firmly in Templar territory and into the realms of pre-Columbian visits to the New World. [Note from the Scribe: Rosslyn Chapel apparently was vandalized recently by some people who wished to see whether the Templar secrets really are beneath the chapel floor. The attempt managed to dislodge and break a few floor stones, but that is about all.]

T he Hiram Key's weaker parts concern the tracing of the Masonic rituals from Ancient Egypt through Moses, through Solomon, the Babylonian Exile of the Jews to Jesus the King of the Jews. The main symbolism used as evidence for these links are simply too common to support their case. The symbols involved are two pillars which the Freemasons use in their rituals. The argument goes something like this: since Freemasons use Pillars as symbols then all people using pillars are Freemasons, or at least proto-Freemasons. The drive to prove this case narrows the authors' wider vision and dispells logic to the wind.

I t may be that the authors have evidence of a direct connection between Freemasons and Ancient Egypt - the evidence of ritual language being quite persuasive. Their interpretation of the invasion of Egypt by Semitic kings during the Hykos period very interesting. However, the tourist route through the history of the Israelites and the beginnings of Christianity seems unnecessarily tortuous and fails to persuade.

T Points of confusion remain for which I would be grateful for answers:

  1. It is accepted in most of what I have read that the Templars built round Churches modelled on the Temple of Jerusalem. How is it then that Knight and Lomas have written a book about a Temple which is rectangular?

    [Note by Dennis Maggard: Solomon's Temple, both the original and the rebuilt version, were rectangular. What the Templars modled their churches and preceptories on was not the temple but the mosque which they occupied on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which was round.]

  2. Much of the supposed ancient ritual is to do with the divine authority of a true King. Yet the authors herald Freemasonry as the architect of republicanism and the natural rights of man. We find Oliver Cromwell a Freemason lopping of the head of the Charles I, also a Freemason like his father, one of Freemasonry's earliest royal supporters.

O verall an enjoyable book which will probably raise the hackles of many an academic.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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