Temple of Solomon

  • Tessa MorrisonEmail author
Living reference work entry


In the 1580s, two Spanish Jesuit priests, Father Jerome and Juan Bautista Villalpando, began to work on a collaborative scriptural exegesis of the Book of Ezekiel. Prado instigated the project and Villalpando, an architect, was commissioned to complete the commentary on chapters 40–43, which contained the architectural description of the Temple of Jerusalem. The project was financed by the Spanish King Philip II for over 20 years. In 1592, both priests moved to Rome to complete the project. The project had many problems from the beginning, as Villalpando and Prado disagreed about the design and the importance of Solomon’s Temple. Prado believed that Ezekiel’s Temple was a Temple of the future and not Solomon’s Temple. He claimed that the architecture of the precinct of Solomon’s Temple followed the description from the twelfth-century Rabbi Moses Maimonides, whose ground plan was asymmetrical, whereas Villalpando believed that Ezekiel’s Temple was the Temple of Solomon, and that the precinct of the Temple was highly symmetrical and represented the microcosm of the macrocosm – the earthly image of the heavens. However, Prado died in 1595 after the first volume had been completed, and Villalpando found himself in charge of the entire project. In 1604 Villalpando published a further two volumes. One of these volumes was entirely dedicated to the architecture of the Temple of Solomon as described by Ezekiel. This volume was entitled in Ezechielem explanationes et apparatus urbis ac templi Hierosolymitani (Ezekiel’s explanation and the preparation of the cities and of the Temple of Jerusalem), and it stimulated a heated debate almost instantaneously that lasted for 150 years. It was either heavily criticized or profoundly praised. This debate was not only a religious one. There were commentaries from architects, professors of astronomy, scientists, and laypeople. This debate was about the religious and the architectural and mathematical representation of the building. The text of Ezekiel was problematic; it is vague and has contradictory measurements, and the entire precinct of the Temple is not described. This chapter considers the 150 years of debate that Villalpando began, which bought a new mathematical approach to the reconstruction of the Temple.


Solomon’s temple Sacred architecture Juan Bautista Villalpando John Greaves 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The School of Architecture and Built EnvironmentThe University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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