The Hiram Key
The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasonry, and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus, is a 1996 book by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. The authors, both Masons, present a theory of the origins of Freemasonry along with "the true story" of historical Jesus and the original Jerusalem Church.
The authors begin by quoting Henry Ford, who was a Mason, saying "all history is bunk". They express the belief that, though Ford's statement may be abrupt, it is accurate, as history is often not a completely accurate and comprehensive account of facts, but only what the victor in any given situation has recorded for posterity.
They argue in the book that the foundations of the Christian religion are a distortion by the early Roman Catholic Church of the teachings of the real Jesus and his followers. They claim to have found in Masonry a new key to unlock the secrets of civilization. This key is also the key to the origins of Christianity and, they assert, proves that many of the beliefs of modern Christianity are erroneous.
They state that one of the main motivations in writing the book stemmed from a desire to ascertain the origins of Freemasonry. Was it just founded in London in 1717, when the Grand Lodge of England was founded as most historians believe, or was it older?
A common theory is that Freemasonry evolved out of guilds of stonemasons. Masonic ritual claims that one of the first Freemasons was Hiram Abiff, a widow's son from the tribe of Naphtali, who built King Solomon's Temple. His name has never been recorded as such historically, although there is a similar character in the Old Testament of the Bible, who is described as a widow's son but not named in the First Book of Kings. In fact, although not apparently named in some translations of the bible, others, such as the Coverdale translation and the original Martin Luther translation do indeed refer to him as "Hiram Abiff" or as "Huram Abi". The word "abi" is translated as "father" or "my father" in other translations whilst the translations named treated it as a personal name. The Jewish Study Bible suggests that word "father" is an honorific title applied to a skilled craftsman. The use of "abu" meaning "father" as an honorific is still seen in the Middle East today, hence "Abukir" named after "Father" or Saint Cyril.
They claim that the stonemason origin theory was wrong because it had so many obvious fallacies. Why would powerful and rich people have been attracted to join a fraternity that came from simple poor stonemasons' guilds? The theory of Freemasonry originating in London in 1717 was also unlikely, because there were much earlier mentions of Freemasonry. The authors decided eventually that Freemasonry was actually as old as it claimed in its ritual, dating back to the building of King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.
They claim that they rigorously analysed the Bible, including the New Testament, ancient Jewish texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gnostic Gospels, and Masonic rituals to support the conclusions they came to.
They decided that the story of Hiram Abiff was actually based on the initiation ceremonies of the ancient kings of Egypt. They also came to the conclusion after analysis of the New Testament, the Gnostic Gospels, and Masonic ritual that Jesus and the original Christians were thoroughly different from what the Roman Catholic Church and orthodox Christianity has taught they were.
The authors believe that Jesus did not claim to be divine, but was merely a messiah in the Jewish sense of the term, a good man and a freedom fighter trying to help liberate the Jews from Roman occupation.
Jesus did not claim to be a miracle worker, according to the authors. When he said that he raised Lazarus from the dead, it was an allegorical reference - followers were referred to as the "living" and others were referred to as the "dead" in certain Jewish esotericism of the time. Similarly, Jesus's turning water into wine merely meant elevating people to a higher status within the framework of the sect.
The authors believe that Jesus's ultra-Jewish sect, the Jerusalem Church, operated some kind of "quasi-Masonic" initiation ceremonies and say that Jesus was thus, in some sense of the term, a Mason.
They wrote in the chapter entitled Jesus Christ: Man, God, Myth, or Freemason, "We realize that this is a statement that will offend many Christians, and particularly many Roman Catholics," but that the conclusion was inevitable that Jesus was a Mason.
The book contains a radical hypothesis regarding the origins of Freemasonry, seeking to demonstrate a heritage through the Knights Templar to the Jerusalem Church and Pharaoic Egypt, drawing on a wide range of material to support this hypothesis.
The work is subject to criticism from within the established body of masonic-research, based on:
- Creeping assertion - caveats on statements are reduced as the statements are used as foundation for further development.
- Lack of critical assessment of sources.
- Use of symbolic ritual as a statement of historic fact.
Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2067 the Premier Lodge of Masonic research under United Grand Lodge of England, has criticized the book as Pseudohistory, and some Masonic libraries categorise the volume as fiction.
Reviews of the work are commonly critical; publishers of this criticism include:
- Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon
- Masonic Info
- Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2067, on the register of the United Grand Lodge of England
- Masonic Quarterly, an official publication of the United Grand Lodge of England
- Freemasonry Today, an official publication of the United Grand Lodge of England
- Published in the United Kingdom by Century Books in 1996.
- Published in the United States as a 384-page hardcover by Element Books in 1997 (ISBN 1-86204-004-4)
- Published in the United States as a paperback in 1998 (ISBN 1-86204-221-7)
- Re-published in 2001 (paperback, ISBN 1-931412-75-8; hardcover ISBN 1-59233-159-9), Fair Winds Press
- Translated into over different thirty languages.
- "0099699419". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- "The Hiram Key, a few observations". Freemasonry.bcy.ca. 2005-06-16. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- Neville Barker Cryer, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Volume 109, 1996.
- "freemasonry.bcy.ca". freemasonry.bcy.ca. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- "The Hiram Key - Knight & Lomas". Masonicinfo.com. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- "mqmagazine.co.uk". mqmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-05.