The Legend Of The Third Degree
the symbolism of freemasonry
albert gallatin mackey
The most important and significant of the legendary symbols of
Freemasonry is, undoubtedly, that which relates to the fate of Hiram Abif,
commonly called, "by way of excellence," the Legend of the Third Degree.
The first written record that I have been able to find of this legend
is contained in the second edition of Anderson's Constitutions, published
in 1738, and is in these words:—
"It (the temple) was finished in the short space of seven years and six
months, to the amazement of all the world; when the cape-stone was
celebrated by the fraternity with great joy. But their joy was soon
interrupted by the sudden death of their dear master, Hiram Abif, whom
they decently interred, in the lodge near the temple, according to ancient
In the next edition of the same work, published in 1756, a few
additional circumstances are related, such as the participation of King
Solomon in the general grief, and the fact that the king of Israel
"ordered his obsequies to be conducted with great solemnity and decency."
158 With these exceptions, and the citations of the same
passages, made by subsequent authors, the narrative has always remained
unwritten, and descended, from age to age, through the means of oral
The legend has been considered of so much importance that it has been
preserved in the symbolism of every masonic rite. No matter what
modifications or alterations the general system may have undergone,—no
matter how much the ingenuity or the imagination of the founders of rites
may have perverted or corrupted other symbols, abolishing the old and
substituting new ones,—the legend of the Temple Builder has ever been left
untouched, to present itself in all the integrity of its ancient mythical
What, then, is the signification of this symbol, so important and so
extensively diffused? What interpretation can we give to it that will
account for its universal adoption? How is it that it has thus become so
intimately interwoven with Freemasonry as to make, to all appearances, a
part of its very essence, and to have been always deemed inseparable from
To answer these questions, satisfactorily, it is necessary to trace, in
a brief investigation, the remote origin of the institution of
Freemasonry, and its connection with the ancient systems of initiation.
It was, then, the great object of all the rites and mysteries which
constituted the "Spurious Freemasonry" of antiquity to teach the consoling
doctrine of the immortality of the soul.159
This dogma, shining as an almost solitary beacon-light in the surrounding
gloom of pagan darkness, had undoubtedly been received from that ancient
people or priesthood160
what has been called the system of "Pure Freemasonry," and among whom it
probably existed only in the form of an abstract proposition or a simple
and unembellished tradition. But in the more sensual minds of the pagan
philosophers and mystics, the idea, when presented to the initiates in
their Mysteries, was always conveyed in the form of a scenic
The influence, too, of the early Sabian worship of the sun and heavenly
bodies, in which the solar orb was adored, on its resurrection, each
morning, from the apparent death of its evening setting, caused this
rising sun to be adopted in the more ancient Mysteries as a symbol of the
regeneration of the soul.
Thus in the Egyptian Mysteries we find a representation of the death
and subsequent regeneration of Osiris; in the Phœnician, of Adonis; in the
Syrian, of Dionysus; in all of which the scenic apparatus of initiation
was intended to indoctrinate the candidate into the dogma of a future
It will be sufficient here to refer simply to the fact, that through
the instrumentality of the Tyrian workmen at the temple of King Solomon,
the spurious and pure branches of the masonic system were united at
Jerusalem, and that the same method of scenic representation was adopted
by the latter from the former, and the narrative of the temple builder
substituted for that of Dionysus, which was the myth peculiar to the
mysteries practised by the Tyrian workmen.
The idea, therefore, proposed to be communicated in the myth of the
ancient Mysteries was the same as that which is now conveyed in the
masonic legend of the Third Degree.
Hence, then, Hiram Abif is, in the masonic system, the symbol of human
nature, as developed in the life here and the life to come; and so, while
the temple was, as I have heretofore shown, the visible symbol of the
world, its builder became the mythical symbol of man, the dweller and
worker in that world.
Now, is not this symbolism evident to every reflective mind?
Man, setting forth on the voyage of life, with faculties and powers
fitting him for the due exercise of the high duties to whose performance
he has been called, holds, if he be "a curious and cunning workman,"162
skilled in all moral and intellectual purposes (and it is
only of such men that the temple builder can be the symbol), within the
grasp of his attainment the knowledge of all that divine truth imparted to
him as the heirloom of his race—that race to whom it has been granted to
look, with exalted countenance, on high;163
which divine truth is symbolized by the WORD.
Thus provided with the word of life, he occupies his time in the
construction of a spiritual temple, and travels onward in the faithful
discharge of all his duties, laying down his designs upon the
trestle-board of the future and invoking the assistance and direction of
But is his path always over flowery meads and through pleasant groves?
Is there no hidden foe to obstruct his progress? Is all before him clear
and calm, with joyous sunshine and refreshing zephyrs? Alas! not so. "Man
is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." At every "gate of life"—as
the Orientalists have beautifully called the different ages—he is beset by
peril. Temptations allure his youth, misfortunes darken the pathway of his
manhood, and his old age is encumbered with infirmity and disease. But
clothed in the armor of virtue he may resist the temptation; he may cast
misfortunes aside, and rise triumphantly above them; but to the last, the
direst, the most inexorable foe of his race, he must eventually yield; and
stricken down by death, he sinks prostrate into the grave, and is
buried in the rubbish of his sin and human frailty.
Here, then, in Masonry, is what was called the aphanism164
in the ancient Mysteries. The bitter but necessary lesson of death has
been imparted. The living soul, with the lifeless body which encased it,
has disappeared, and can nowhere be found. All is
darkness—confusion— despair. Divine truth—the WORD—for a time is lost, and
the Master Mason may now say, in the language of Hutchinson, "I prepare my
sepulchre. I make my grave in the pollution of the earth. I am under the
shadow of death."
But if the mythic symbolism ended here, with this lesson of death, then
were the lesson incomplete. That teaching would be vain and idle—nay,
more, it would be corrupt and pernicious—which should stop short of the
conscious and innate instinct for another existence. And hence the
succeeding portions of the legend are intended to convey the sublime
symbolism of a resurrection from the grave and a new birth into a future
life. The discovery of the body, which, in the initiations of the ancient
Mysteries, was called the euresis,165
and its removal, from the polluted grave into which it had been cast, to
an honored and sacred place within the precincts of the temple, are all
profoundly and beautifully symbolic of that great truth, the discovery of
which was the object of all the ancient initiations, as it is almost the
whole design of Freemasonry, namely, that when man shall have passed the
gates of life and have yielded to the inexorable fiat of death, he shall
then (not in the pictured ritual of an earthly lodge, but in the realities
of that eternal one, of which the former is but an antitype) be raised, at
the omnific word of the Grand Master of the Universe, from time to
eternity; from the tomb of corruption to the chambers of hope; from the
darkness of death to the celestial beams of life; and that his disembodied
spirit shall be conveyed as near to the holy of holies of the divine
presence as humanity can ever approach to Deity.
Such I conceive to be the true interpretation of the symbolism of the
legend of the Third Degree.
I have said that this mythical history of the temple builder was
universal in all nations and all rites, and that in no place and at no
time had it, by alteration, diminution, or addition, acquired any
essentially new or different form: the myth has always remained the same.
But it is not so with its interpretation. That which I have just given,
and which I conceive to be the correct one, has been very generally
adopted by the Masons of this country. But elsewhere, and by various
writers, other interpretations have been made, very different in their
character, although always agreeing in retaining the general idea of a
resurrection or regeneration, or a restoration of something from an
inferior to a higher sphere or function.
Thus some of the earlier continental writers have supposed the myth to
have been a symbol of the destruction of the Order of the Templars,
looking upon its restoration to its original wealth and dignities as being
In some of the high philosophical degrees it is taught that the whole
legend refers to the sufferings and death, with the subsequent
resurrection, of Christ.166
Hutchinson, who has the honor of being the earliest philosophical
writer on Freemasonry in England, supposes it to have been intended to
embody the idea of the decadence of the Jewish religion, and the
substitution of the Christian in its place and on its ruins.167
Dr. Oliver—"clarum et venerabile nomen"—thinks that it is typical of
the murder of Abel by Cain, and that it symbolically refers to the
universal death of our race through Adam, and its restoration to life in
according to the expression of the apostle, "As in Adam we all died, so in
Christ we all live."
Ragon makes Hiram a symbol of the sun shorn of its vivifying rays and
fructifying power by the three winter months, and its restoration to
generative heat by the season of spring.169
And, finally, Des Etangs, adopting, in part, the interpretation of
Ragon, adds to it another, which he calls the moral symbolism of the
legend, and supposes that Hiram is no other than eternal reason, whose
enemies are the vices that deprave and destroy humanity.170
To each of these interpretations it seems to me that there are
important objections, though perhaps to some less so than to others.
As to those who seek for an astronomical interpretation of the legend,
in which the annual changes of the sun are symbolized, while the ingenuity
with which they press their argument cannot but be admired, it is evident
that, by such an interpretation, they yield all that Masonry has gained of
religious development in past ages, and fall back upon that corruption and
perversion of Sabaism from which it was the object, even of the Spurious
Freemasonry of antiquity, to rescue its disciples.
The Templar interpretation of the myth must at once be discarded if we
would avoid the difficulties of anachronism, unless we deny that the
legend existed before the abolition of the Order of Knights Templar, and
such denial would be fatal to the antiquity of Freemasonry.171
And as to the adoption of the Christian reference, Hutchinson, and
after him Oliver, profoundly philosophical as are the masonic speculations
of both, have, I am constrained to believe, fallen into a great error in
calling the Master Mason's degree a Christian institution. It is true that
it embraces within its scheme the great truths of Christianity upon the
subject of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body;
but this was to be presumed, because Freemasonry is truth, and
Christianity is truth, and all truth must be identical. But the origin of
each is different; their histories are dissimilar. The institution of
Freemasonry preceded the advent of Christianity. Its symbols and its
legends are derived from the Solomonic temple, and from the people even
anterior to that. Its religion comes from the ancient priesthood. Its
faith was that primitive one of Noah and his immediate descendants. If
Masonry were simply a Christian institution, the Jew and the Moslem, the
Brahmin and the Buddhist, could not conscientiously partake of its
illumination; but its universality is its boast. In its language citizens
of every nation may converse; at its altar men of all religions may kneel;
to its creed disciples of every faith may subscribe.
Yet it cannot be denied, that since the advent of Christianity a
Christian element has been almost imperceptibly infused into the masonic
system, at least among Christian Masons. This has been a necessity; for it
is the tendency of every predominant religion to pervade with its
influences all that surrounds it, or is about it, whether religious,
political, or social. This arises from a need of the human heart. To the
man deeply imbued with the spirit of his religion there is an almost
unconscious desire to accommodate and adapt all the business and the
amusements of life, the labors and the employments of his every-day
existence, to the indwelling faith of his soul.
The Christian Mason, therefore, while acknowledging and justly
appreciating the great doctrines taught in Masonry, and while grateful
that these doctrines were preserved in the bosom of his ancient order at a
time when they were unknown to the multitudes of the surrounding nations,
is still anxious to give to them a Christian character, to invest them, in
some measure, with the peculiarities of his own creed, and to bring the
interpretation of their symbolism more nearly home to his own religious
The feeling is an instinctive one, belonging to the noblest aspirations
of our human nature; and hence we find Christian masonic writers indulging
in it almost to an unwarrantable excess, and by the extent of their
sectarian interpretations materially affecting the cosmopolitan character
of the institution.
This tendency to Christianization has, in some instances, been so
universal, and has prevailed for so long a period, that certain symbols
and myths have been, in this way, so deeply and thoroughly imbued with the
Christian element as to leave those who have not penetrated into the cause
of this peculiarity, in doubt whether they should attribute to the symbol
an ancient or a modern and Christian origin.
As an illustration of the idea here advanced, and as a remarkable
example of the result of a gradually Christianized interpretation of a
masonic symbol, I will refer to the subordinate myth (subordinate, I mean,
to the great legend of the Builder), which relates the circumstances
connected with the grave upon "the brow of a small hill near Mount
Now, the myth or legend of a grave is a legitimate deduction from the
symbolism of the ancient Spurious Masonry. It is the analogue of the
Pastos, Couch, or Coffin, which was to be found in
the ritual of all the pagan Mysteries. In all these initiations, the
aspirant was placed in a cell or upon a couch, in darkness, and for a
period varying, in the different rites, from the three days of the Grecian
Mysteries to the fifty of the Persian. This cell or couch, technically
called the "pastos," was adopted as a symbol of the being whose death and
resurrection or apotheosis, was represented in the legend.
The learned Faber says that this ceremony was doubtless the same as the
descent into Hades,172
and that, when the aspirant entered into the mystic cell, he was directed
to lay himself down upon the bed which shadowed out the tomb of the Great
Father, or Noah, to whom, it will be recollected, that Faber refers all
the ancient rites. "While stretched upon the holy couch," he continues to
remark, "in imitation of his figurative deceased prototype, he was said to
be wrapped in the deep sleep of death. His resurrection from the bed was
his restoration to life or his regeneration into a new world."
Now, it is easy to see how readily such a symbolism would be seized by
the Temple Masons, and appropriated at once to the grave at the brow of
the hill. At first, the interpretation, like that from which it had
been derived, would be cosmopolitan; it would fit exactly to the general
dogmas of the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul.
But on the advent of Christianity, the spirit of the new religion being
infused into the old masonic system, the whole symbolism of the grave was
affected by it. The same interpretation of a resurrection or restoration
to life, derived from the ancient "pastos," was, it is true, preserved;
but the facts that Christ himself had come to promulgate to the multitudes
the same consoling dogma, and that Mount Calvary, "the place of a skull,"
was the spot where the Redeemer, by his own death and resurrection, had
testified the truth of the doctrine, at once suggested to the old
Christian Masons the idea of Christianizing the ancient symbol.
Let us now examine briefly how that idea has been at length developed.
In the first place, it is necessary to identify the spot where the
"newly-made grave" was discovered with Mount Calvary, the place of the
sepulchre of Christ. This can easily be done by a very few but striking
analogies, which will, I conceive, carry conviction to any thinking mind.
1. Mount Calvary was a small hill.173
2. It was situated in a westward direction from the temple, and
near Mount Moriah.
3. It was on the direct road from Jerusalem to Joppa, and is thus the
very spot where a weary brother, travelling on that road, would
find it convenient to sit down to rest and refresh himself.174
4. It was outside the gate of the temple.
5. It has at least one cleft in the rock, or cave, which was the
place which subsequently became the sepulchre of our Lord. But this
coincidence need scarcely to be insisted on, since the whole neighborhood
abounds in rocky clefts, which meet at once the conditions of the masonic
But to bring this analogical reasoning before the mind in a more
expressive mode, it may be observed that if a party of persons were to
start forth from the temple at Jerusalem, and travel in a westward
direction towards the port of Joppa, Mount Calvary would be the first hill
met with; and as it may possibly have been used as a place of sepulture,
which its name of Golgotha175
seems to import, we may suppose it to have been the very spot alluded to
in the Third Degree, as the place where the craftsmen, on their way to
Joppa, discovered the evergreen acacia.
Having thus traced the analogy, let us look a little to the symbolism.
Mount Calvary has always retained an important place in the legendary
history of Freemasonry, and there are many traditions connected with it
that are highly interesting in their import.
One of these traditions is, that it was the burial-place of Adam, in
order, says the old legend, that where he lay, who effected the ruin of
mankind, there also might the Savior of the world suffer, die, and be
buried. Sir R. Torkington, who published a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in
1517, says that "under the Mount of Calvary is another chapel of our
Blessed Lady and St. John the Evangelist, that was called Golgotha; and
there, right under the mortise of the cross, was found the head of our
176 Golgotha, it will be remembered, means, in Hebrew, "the
place of a skull;" and there may be some connection between this tradition
and the name of Golgotha, by which the Evangelists inform us, that in the
time of Christ Mount Calvary was known. Calvary, or Calvaria, has the same
signification in Latin.
Another tradition states, that it was in the bowels of Mount Calvary
that Enoch erected his nine-arched vault, and deposited on the
foundation-stone of Masonry that Ineffable Name, whose investigation, as a
symbol of divine truth, is the great object of Speculative Masonry.
A third tradition details the subsequent discovery of Enoch's deposit
by King Solomon, whilst making excavations in Mount Calvary, during the
building of the temple.
On this hallowed spot was Christ the Redeemer slain and buried. It was
there that, rising on the third day from his sepulchre, he gave, by that
act, the demonstrative evidence of the resurrection of the body and the
immortality of the soul.
And it was on this spot that the same great lesson was taught in
Masonry—the same sublime truth—the development of which evidently forms
the design of the Third or Master Mason's degree.
There is in these analogies a sublime beauty as well as a wonderful
coincidence between the two systems of Masonry and Christianity, that
must, at an early period, have attracted the attention of the Christian
Mount Calvary is consecrated to the Christian as the place where his
crucified Lord gave the last great proof of the second life, and fully
established the doctrine of the resurrection which he had come to teach.
It was the sepulchre of him
"Who captive led captivity,
Who robbed the grave of victory,
And took the sting from death."
It is consecrated to the Mason, also, as the scene of the
euresis, the place of the discovery, where the same consoling
doctrines of the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul
are shadowed forth in profoundly symbolic forms.
These great truths constitute the very essence of Christianity, in
which it differs from and excels all religious systems that preceded it;
they constitute, also, the end, aim, and object of all Freemasonry, but
more especially that of the Third Degree, whose peculiar legend,
symbolically considered, teaches nothing more nor less than that there is
an immortal and better part within us, which, as an emanation from that
divine spirit which pervades all nature, can never die.
The identification of the spot on which this divine truth was
promulgated in both systems—the Christian and the Masonic—affords an
admirable illustration of the readiness with which the religious spirit of
the former may be infused into the symbolism of the latter. And hence
Hutchinson, thoroughly imbued with these Christian views of Masonry, has
called the Master Mason's order a Christian degree, and thus Christianizes
the whole symbolism of its mythical history.
"The Great Father of all, commiserating the miseries of the world, sent
his only Son, who was innocence itself, to teach the doctrine of
salvation—by whom man was raised from the death of sin unto the life of
righteousness—from the tomb of corruption unto the chamber of hope—from
the darkness of despair to the celestial beams of faith; and not only
working for us this redemption, but making with us the covenant of
regeneration; whence we are become the children of the Divinity, and
inheritors of the realms of heaven.
"We, Masons, describing the deplorable estate of religion under
the Jewish law, speak in figures: 'Her tomb was in the rubbish and filth
cast forth of the temple, and acacia wove its branches over her
monuments;' akakia being the Greek word for innocence, or being
free from sin; implying that the sins and corruptions of the old law, and
devotees of the Jewish altar, had hid Religion from those who sought her,
and she was only to be found where innocence survived, and under
the banner of the Divine Lamb, and, as to ourselves, professing that we
were to be distinguished by our Acacy, or as true Acacians
in our religious faiths and tenets.
"The acquisition of the doctrine of redemption is expressed in the
typical character of Huramen (I have found it.—Greek), and
by the applications of that name with Masons, it is implied that we have
discovered the knowledge of God and his salvation, and have been redeemed
from the death of sin and the sepulchre of pollution and unrighteousness.
"Thus the Master Mason represents a man, under the Christian
doctrine, saved from the grave of iniquity and raised to the faith of
It is in this way that Masonry has, by a sort of inevitable process
(when we look to the religious sentiment of the interpreters), been
Christianized by some of the most illustrious and learned writers on
masonic science—by such able men as Hutchinson and Oliver in England, and
by Harris, by Scott, by Salem Towne, and by several others in this
I do not object to the system when the interpretation is not strained,
but is plausible, consistent, and productive of the same results as in the
instance of Mount Calvary: all that I contend for is, that such
interpretations are modern, and that they do not belong to, although they
may often be deduced from, the ancient system.
But the true ancient interpretation of the legend,—the universal
masonic one,—for all countries and all ages, undoubtedly was, that the
fate of the temple builder is but figurative of the pilgrimage of man on
earth, through trials and temptations, through sin and sorrow, until his
eventual fall beneath the blow of death and his final and glorious
resurrection to another and an eternal life.
157. Anderson's Constitutions, 2d ed. 1738, p. 14.
158. Anderson's Constitutions, 3d ed. 1756, p. 24.
159. "The hidden doctrines of the unity of the Deity and the
immortality of the soul were originally in all the Mysteries, even those
of Cupid and Bacchus."—WARBURTON, in Spence's Anecdotes, p. 309.
160. "The allegorical interpretation of the myths has been, by several
learned investigators, especially by Creuzer, connected with the
hypothesis of an ancient and highly instructed body of priests, having
their origin either in Egypt or in the East, and communicating to the rude
and barbarous Greeks religious, physical, and historical knowledge, under
the veil of symbols."—GROTE, Hist. of Greece, vol. i. ch. xvi. p.
579.—And the Chevalier Ramsay corroborates this theory: "Vestiges of the
most sublime truths are to be found in the sages of all nations, times,
and religions, both sacred and profane, and these vestiges are emanations
of the antediluvian and noevian tradition, more or less disguised and
adulterated."—Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion
unfolded in a Geometrical Order, vol. 1, p. iv.
161. Of this there is abundant evidence in all the ancient and modern
writers on the Mysteries. Apuleius, cautiously describing his initiation
into the Mysteries of Isis, says, "I approached the confines of death, and
having trod on the threshold of Proserpine, I returned therefrom, being
borne through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining with its
brilliant light; and I approached the presence of the gods beneath, and
the gods of heaven, and stood near and worshipped them."—Metam.
lib. vi. The context shows that all this was a scenic representation.
162. Aish hakam iodea binah, "a cunning man, endued with
understanding," is the description given by the king of Tyre of Hiram Abif.
See 2 Chron. ii. 13. It is needless to say that "cunning" is a good old
Saxon word meaning skilful.
"Pronaque cum spectent animalia cætera terram;
Os homini sublime
dedit: coelumque tueri
Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus."
OVID, Met. i. 84.
"Thus, while the mute creation downward bend
Their sight, and to
their earthly mother tend,
Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies."
164. "Ἀφανισμὸς, disappearance, destruction, a perishing, death, from
ἀφανίζω, to remove from one's view, to conceal," &c.—Schrevel. Lex.
165. "Εῦρεσις, a finding, invention, discovery."—Schrevel. Lex.
166. A French writer of the last century, speaking of the degree of "Très
Parfait Maitre," says, "C'est ici qu'on voit réellement qu'Hiram n'a été
que le type de Jésus Christ, que le temple et les autres symboles
maçonniques sont des allegories relatives à l'Eglise, à la Foi, et aux
bonnes moeurs."—Origine et Objet de la Franchemaçonnerie, par le F.B.
167. "This our order is a positive contradiction to the Judaic
blindness and infidelity, and testifies our faith concerning the
resurrection of the body."—HUTCHINSON, Spirit of Masonry, lect. ix.
p. 101.—The whole lecture is occupied in advancing and supporting his
168. "Thus, then, it appears that the historical reference of the
legend of Speculative Freemasonry, in all ages of the world, was—to our
death in Adam and life in Christ. What, then, was the origin of our
tradition? Or, in other words, to what particular incident did the legend
of initiation refer before the flood? I conceive it to have been the
offering and assassination of Abel by his brother Cain; the escape of the
murderer; the discovery of the body by his disconsolate parents, and its
subsequent interment, under a certain belief of its final resurrection
from the dead, and of the detection and punishment of Cain by divine
vengeance."—OLIVER, Historical Landmarks of Freemasonry, vol. ii.
169. "Le grade de Maître va donc nous retracer allegoriquement la mort
du dieu-lumière—mourant en hiver pour reparaître et ressusciter au
printemps."—RAGON, Cours Philos. et Interp. des Init. p. 158.
170. "Dans l'ordre moral, Hiram n'est autre chose que la raison
éternelle, par qui tout est pondéré, réglé, conservé."—DES ETANGS,
Œuvres Maçonniques, p. 90.
171. With the same argument would I meet the hypothesis that Hiram was
the representative of Charles I. of England—an hypothesis now so generally
abandoned, that I have not thought it worth noticing in the text.
172. "The initiation into the Mysteries," he says, "scenically
represented the mythic descent into Hades and the return from thence to
the light of day; by which was meant the entrance into the Ark and the
subsequent liberation from its dark enclosure. Such Mysteries were
established in almost every part of the pagan world; and those of Ceres
were substantially the same as the Orgies of Adonis, Osiris, Hu, Mithras,
and the Cabiri. They all equally related to the allegorical disappearance,
or death, or descent of the great father at their commencement, and to his
invention, or revival, or return from Hades, at their conclusion."—Origin
of Pagan Idolatry, vol. iv. b. iv. ch. v. p. 384—But this Arkite
theory, as it is called, has not met with the general approbation of
173. Mount Calvary is a small hill or eminence, situated in a westerly
direction from that Mount Moriah on which the temple of Solomon was built.
It was originally a hillock of notable eminence, but has, in modern times,
been greatly reduced by the excavations made in it for the construction of
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Buckingham, in his Palestine, p. 283,
says, "The present rock, called Calvary, and enclosed within the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre, bears marks, in every part that is naked, of its
having been a round nodule of rock standing above the common level of the
174. Dr. Beard, in the art. "Golgotha," in Kitto's Encyc. of Bib. Lit.,
reasons in a similar method as to the place of the crucifixion, and
supposing that the soldiers, from the fear of a popular tumult, would
hurry Jesus to the most convenient spot for execution, says, "Then the
road to Joppa or Damascus would be most convenient, and no spot in the
vicinity would probably be so suitable as the slight rounded elevation
which bore the name of Calvary."
175. Some have supposed that it was so called because it was the place
of public execution. Gulgoleth in Hebrew, or gogultho in
Syriac, means a skull.
176. Quoted in Oliver, Landmarks, vol. i. p. 587, note.
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