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An electronic text version of the 1734 Philadelphia edition of the work first published in London in 1723.
James Anderson A.M., Right Worshipful Fraternity of Accepted Free-Masons
Benjamin Franklin, Grand Master of Masons of Pennsylvania
Paul Royster (editor & depositor), University of Nebraska-Lincoln
This is an online electronic edition of the the first Masonic book printed in America, which was produced in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1734, and was a reprint of a work by James Anderson (who is identified as the author in an appendix) printed in London in 1723.
This is the seminal work of American Masonry, edited and published by one of the founding fathers, and of great importance to the development of colonial society and the formation of the Republic.
The work contains a 40-page history of Masonry: from Adam to the reign of King George I, including, among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Hiram Abif, Nebuchadnezzar, Augustus Caesar, Vitruvius, King Athelstan the Saxon, Inigo Jones, and James I of England. There are extended descriptions of the Seven Wonders of the World, viz. 1) the Great Pyramid, 2) Solomon’s Temple, 3) the City and Hanging-Gardens of Babylon, 4) the Mausoleum or Tomb of Mausolus, King of Caria, 5) the Lighthouse of Pharos at Alexandria, 6) Phidias’s statue of Jupiter Olympius in Achaia, and 7) the Colossus at Rhodes (although some maintain the 5th is the Obelisk of Semiramis). It is a celebration of the science of Geometry and the Royal Art of Architecture, as practiced from ancient times until the then-current revival of the Roman or Augustan Style. “The Charges of a Free- Mason” and the “General Regulations” concern rules of conduct for individuals and of governance for Lodges and their officers. The work also includes five songs to be sung at meetings, one of which—“A New Song”—appears in print for the first time and may have been composed by Franklin.
The document suggests that Masonry, in its modern Anglo-American form, was rooted in Old Testament exegesis (“So that the Israelites, at their leaving Egypt, were a whole Kingdom of Masons, … under the Conduct of their GRAND MASTER MOSES”) and in contemporary Protestant ideals of morality, merit, and political equality.
Phidias was an Athenian sculptor, the son of Charmides, and is generally acknowledged as the greatest ancient Greek sculptor and instigator of the classical style of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Although few facts are known about his life, it is believed he lived from around 490 until 430 BC. No originals of his work exist, but his recognition as a renowned sculptor has been guaranteed due to the praise of ancient writers, as well as the influence his sculptures had on the development of the art. He gained most of his fame for his two enormous chryselephantine (gold and ivory) sculptures: One of Athena in the Parthenon, and the other of Zeus at Olympia. These statues had such a profound impact that they determined all subsequent conceptions of Athena and Zeus.
Phidias' colossal statue of Athena . . .
Phidias' second work on the same scale as the Athena Parthenos, was his gigantic statue of Zeus for the temple in Olympia. Dating from around 435 BC, the statue was counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It depicted Zeus seated on an huge throne, the back of which rose above his head, making the statue 42 feet high, occupying the full height of the temple.
Hiram Abiff (other spellings "Hurum", "Abif", and "Huram-Abi") is a character who figures prominently in an allegorical play that is presented during the third degree of Craft Freemasonry. In this play, Hiram is presented as being the chief architect of King Solomon's Temple, who is murdered by three ruffians during an unsuccessful attempt to force him to divulge the Master Masons' secret password. It is explained in the lecture that follows this play that the story is a lesson in fidelity to one's word, and in the brevity of life.
So he called his counselors for advice, and they had no idea what to do. But one of them suggested consulting the demons, which knew many secrets, and were all servants to the wise king. The demons were summoned, and indeed they knew a long forgotten secret. They were reluctant to tell the king, of course, but he forced them to reveal it. Many generations before King Solomon’s reign, Moses faced the same dilemma when he had to engrave the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel on the precious stones that decorated the sacred Ephod (breast plate) worn by the high priest. God helped Moses by introducing him to a Shamir, a magical little worm that could cut stones with its glance. The demons did not know the whereabouts of any Shamir, but they suggested contacting their king, Asmodeus.
Asmodeus never quite accepted King Solomon’s supremacy, so he had to be tricked and captured before he would give up the secret of finding a Shamir. The king knew that he lived on a certain mountain, where he kept a water hole, covered with a stone and sealed with his own seal. From this hole Asmodeus drank every day, before and after visiting the Heavenly Academy, where he liked to participate in the studies with the angels.
The Testament of Solomon, along with its Judeo-Christian theme, infuses Greek and other mythological elements into its work.
The most obvious of Greek influence is Solomon's encounter with seven demons who are sisters. They introduce themselves to the King and describe their home amongst the stars and Mount Olympus. The seven demon-sisters represent the Pleides of Greek Mythology and, as well, their astrological relationship.
The Pythagorean fascination with the number 5 (the union of the first female number, 2, with the first male number, 3) and their admiration for the five-pointed star lead to their interest in the Golden Ratio.
Mathematicians label the geometric figure of a five-pointed star the pentagram, although occultists and symbolists will generally only style the never-ending knot as a pentagram. Of especial interest to freemasons, or students of esoteric philosophy, the geometric proportions of the pentagram are also those of the Golden Section, aurio sectio: Golden Mean.
Originally posted by KSigMason
Interesting. This will take time to read through all of it.