First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

A number of enlightened men have written upon the beauty and mighty architecture of the Temple and its ground plans; and particularly so was the divine prophet Ezekiel; for in the twenty-fifth year of the Babylonian captivity, which was also the thirty-third year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, in the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of which, the hand of the Lord was upon Ezekiel. And a spirit took him up on a high mountain in the land of Israel, and indicated to him the construction of this city on a mount, and of the Temple.

The Vision of the Temple, given in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, is, as its title makes clear, a vision and description of the new temple which Ezekiel saw from a high mountain in the 25th year of the Captivity and the 14th after the destruction of the holy city. Although a few commentators maintain it was but a description from memory of Solomon's Temple, the majority hold that it has to do with future events. These latter differ according as they see in it a mere prophetic picture of Zerubbabel's Temple, or a vague announcement of some future blessing, or some kind of Messianic prophecy. Its historical foundation is undoubtedly the first Temple and the hidden springs of the sacred mount, but upon this foundation the writer builds a superstructure of allegory (at least that is the way it was read by late Christians).

As some authorities observe, the description of the new Jerusalem and its temple is not to be taken literally. It is but a visionary city and temple that are here dealt with. And although the vision remained a dream, it seems to have had its influence on the plan of the actual Temple of the future. This is to be noted in the emphasis laid throughout on the sacrosanct character of the sanctionary. The whole sacred area covered by the Temple and its courts is to be protected from contact with secular buildings.
How the vision came about is thus set forth in the Book of Ezekiel 40:1-5:

In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was struck, in the selfsame day the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me to there. In visions God brought me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. And he brought me there, and behold, there was man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. And the man said to me, Son of man, behold with your eyes and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you. . . . Declare all you see to the house of Israel.

And since his vision of the city on the mount and of the Temple as shown him by the spirit is somewhat vague and obscure, we have been obliged to amplify it to some extent by illustrations. Although certain teachers have looked upon this as a vision of the spiritual temple of Christ and of the Church, yet Victor has interpreted it as a material temple, which, according to the ancient Hebrews, was built by Zerubbabel (Zorobabel) and Nehemiah (Neemias) in conformity with Ezekiel's vision, on the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. Although some hold a contrary view, the more modern Hebrews asserts that this vision will be fulfilled in the future Messiah, who will rule with power. So we will show the Temple by illustrations and but a small amount of text.


‘The First Figure of the Temple Edifice as Shown to Ezekiel over the Mountain' (Prima figura edificii templi ostensa Ezechieli super montem). This is a very simple drawing consisting of three squares, one within the other, and representing the inner, middle and outer walls of the Temple, the three spaces within each square being respectively designated as follows:

  1. Locus vulgi in hoc spatio per circuitum; or ‘the place of the multitude, which is in this surrounding space.'
  2. Atrium exterius in hoc spatio per circuitum; or ‘outer court which is in this surrounding space.'
  3. Atrium interius; or ‘inner court.'


‘The Second Figure, to Facilitate Understanding' (Secunda figura ad facilius capiendum), consists of a design similar in general outline to the first illustration, but to it are added the following details:

  1. The directions in which the walls face, namely, East (Oriens), North (Aquilo), West (Occidens), and South (Auster), are given in Latin. It will be noted in this and succeeding designs that North appears on our right, South on our left; East is at the lower margin of the design, West at the upper.
  2. The gates are shown as at right angles they pass through the middle of the three walls in succession on all sides except the West (Occidens), which has no gate. The three sets of gates are thus indicated:
    1. Tres portae orientales, or ‘three eastern gates';
    2. Tres portae aquilonares, or ‘three northern gates';
    3. Tres portae australes, or ‘three southern gates'.


‘The Succeeding Two Figures Represent the Ornamentation of the Gate' (Sequentes duae figurae ornatum portae repraesentant) is respectively the ground plan and front elevation of the East Gate:

  1. The Ground Plan, entitled Figura repraesentens situm portae orientalis, porticus &c ut in glosa. Et idem intelligendum de aliis duabus portis eiusdem muri qui sunt similes (‘Figure representing the location of the East Gate, the porch, etc., as in the caption. The same must be understood concerning the other two gates of the same wall, which are similar'), begins at the lower end of the illustration, where we find ourselves on the outside of the ‘East side of the outer wall' (Latus orientale muri exterioris). Through this we pass by the ‘East Gate of the outer wall' (Porta orientalis muri exterioris), into an open space marked Oriens (‘East'), and here we find ourselves at the entrance of a ‘forecourt' (Vestibulum), on either side of which are ‘three little chambers' (Tres thalami). Having gained access to the porch or forecourt, we pass through the ‘East Gate of the middle wall' (Porta orientalis muri medii). On either side of this gate are circles, inscribed to indicate that here is the façade, front or brow (Situs frontis) of the gate. Beyond this is the ‘Porch of the East Gate of the outer court against the middle wall' (Porticus portae orientalis atrii exterioris muri medii).
  2. The Front Elevation of the East Gate is represented by a drawing entitled Aspectus altitudinis portae orientalis atrii exteriore, et idem intelligendum de aliis duabus (‘Front elevation of the East Gate of the outer court, and the same must be understood concerning the other two'). At the lower end of this elevation we find the outer wall, and behind it, on either side a small house with tiled roof, no doubt intended to represent the three little chambers mentioned by Ezekiel and shown in the ground plan opposite. A medieval door with ornamental hinges admits us through the middle wall, above which are chambers which are designated:
    1. Mansio superior portae orientalis, altitudinis XXV cubitorum (‘Upper abode of the East Gate, 25 cubits in height'); and
    2. Mansio inferior altitudinis XXV cubitorum (‘Lower abode, 25 cubits in height'). On either side of these chambers is a circular turret, also two stories in height, with crenellated crown and cone-shaped roof, on the apex of which is a knob out of which proceed three palm branches. Ezekiel makes no mention of turrets, unless the word "posts" is to be so interpreted. He states that "upon each post were palm trees" (40:16, 22, 26, 37). Upon each of these turrets is the inscription, Frons portae altitudinis L cubitorum (‘Front of the gate, 50 cubits in height'). The author explains that in speaking of the gate of the castle these turrets are called the frons (‘front' or ‘forehead') (Folio LXVII recto). Schedel and his woodcutters have attempted to work out this visionary temple of Ezekiel in terms of medieval architecture, and in doing so they have added many details, both in text and by way of illustrations, which were not envisaged by the prophet. Compare with Ezekiel 40-48.