Should I read something in particular before I go?

Yes, definitely! There are some very helpful things to read, though you may not understand their significance until afterwards. While you read, if you’re frustrated not to be getting deep, significant insights, don’t worry- you’re completely normal. Some of these things you’ve probably read many times before, and the reason for doing so again is so that they are fresh in your mind when you go to the Temple. This is an introductory list, and should only take a few hours. These are drawn somewhat from Elder Nelson’s talk, “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings” Ensign, May 2001 but also from my experience as a Temple Preparation teacher.

Scriptural Readings:

Other important readings:

  • The Church offers a Temple Preparation course, usually taught during Sunday School. The student manual, Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, is a condensed edition of Elder Packer’s The Holy Temple, and is available from the Church’s website.
  • “Temples” in True to the Faith, from the Church’s website.
  • “Temples.” –Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Though there are other useful articles in EM, these four under “Temple” are particularly useful for those preparing to go to the Temple. Gospelink (subscription required)
  • Part of the chapter “Temple of Holiness” from Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992): 363-371.

You may find the resources on the Temple Index overwhelming, so I’ve put together a “short list” of secondary readings if you’ve done everything above and don’t know what to read next. These are the papers I think are most helpful in preparing.

  1. Elder Packer, The Holy Temple (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980). This book is a good introduction to all things Temple related, and you should probably read it before you read any other books on the Temple.
  2. John Lundquist, “What is a Temple? A Preliminary Typology” in Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism. pdf format This article looks at 20 characteristics of Temples world-wide. These characteristics are also found in the restored ordinances of our Temples. For example, a Temple physically represents a Mountain, the meeting place between heaven and earth, a place of revelation. (Think of Isaiah 2:2, “the mountain of the Lord’s House,” or Moses receiving his Temple ordinances on top of Mt. Sinai, or Nephi being caught up to “an exceedingly high mountain” for his vision in 1 Nephi 11:1.)
  3. Hugh Nibley, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ.” Ensign, July-October 1990 (Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.) This article is an edited version of a talk that was written at the request of several Apostles, discussing how the Temple ordinances are centered on the closely-related concepts of atonement, sacrifice, and covenant.
  4. Donald W. Parry, “Garden of Eden: Prototype Sanctuary.” in Temples of the Ancient World, 126-151. pdf format This article examines the Garden of Eden as a Temple, according to Lundquist’s typology above. Gospelink (subscription required)
  5. Matthew B. Brown, The Gate of Heaven: Insights on Doctrines & Symbols of the Temple. (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 1999). This book is very detailed, and examines the scriptures in depth. It may be appreciated more after one’s Temple experience, but don’t be afraid to read it before, either. Not to be read quickly! The endnotes often contain more good exposition that was too detailed to be included in the main text.
  6. Between Heaven and Earth- A video presentation originally broadcast between general conference sessions a few years ago, this is available on VHS and DVD from the BYU bookstore or Deseret Book, or LDS Church Distribution in multi-lingual format (English, Spanish, Portuguese.) Between Heaven and Earth features both LDS and non-LDS scholars such as Frank Moore Cross (Harvard), Krister Stendahl (Harvard), Lawrence Schiffman (NYU), John Lundquist, Truman Madsen, Elder Boyd K. Packer, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, among others. They talk about ancient and modern LDS Temples, and the Temple typology. I’ve included a few quotes on LDS Temples from these non-LDS scholars in this section.

Once you’ve done all these, you’re well prepared to start browsing through the full list, and read whatever interests you. Don’t forget your scriptures! When you come across a scripture in one of these books or articles, look it up! ©

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