The Size of the Temple

Umberto Eco writes in Baudolino:

in the Acts of the Apostles it says that God from one man devised our humankind to inhabit the entire face of the earth, its face – not the other side, which doesn’t exist.

“I don’t know if you have ever studied the measurements of the Temple, well don’t, because it is enough to drive you crazy. In Kings it says… In chronicles it says…

The problem however arises when you read the vision of Ezekiel. Not one measurement holds up, and so a number of pious men have admitted that Ezekiel had indeed had a vision, which is a bit like saying he had drunk too much and was seeing double. Nothing wrong with that , poor Ezekiel (he also had a right to his fun), but then Richard of St Victoire reasoned as follows: if everything, every number, every straw in the Bible has a spiritual meaning, we must clearly understand what it says literally, because it is one thing to say , for the spiritual meaning, that something is three long and another’s length is nine, since these two numbers have different mystical meanings.

“The most alert commentators have not succeeded in establishing the exact structure of the Temple. You Christians do not understand that the sacred text is born from a Voice. The Lord, haqadoch baruch hu, that the holy one, may his name always be blessed , when he speaks to his prophets, allows them to hear sounds, but does not show figures, as you people do, with your illuminated pages. The voice surely provokes images in the heart of the prophet, but these images are not immobile; they liquefy, change shape according to the melody of that voice, and if you want to reduce to images the voice of the Lord, blessed always be his name, you freeze that voice, as if it were fresh water turning to ice that no longer quenches thirst, but numbs the limbs in the chill of death,”

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