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The Hiram Key by Christopher Knight
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The Hiram Key (original 1996; edition 1998)

by Christopher Knight

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
737812,660 (3.22)10
paradoxosalpha's review
This book has been the source of some heat, if little light, among students of esoteric history.

The scholarship in The Hiram Key is not profound, and it compares poorly with other books that treat similar themes and topics, such as Robertson's Born in Blood or Assmann's Moses the Egyptian. It is certainly wide-ranging, and seems to incorporate a dozen other recent theories on the Shroud of Turin, Templar survival in Scotland, Egyptian elements in Hebrew religion, lost Christian scriptures, and Masonic origins.

The picture of Gnosticism presented by Knight and Lomax is a caricature. Their theories of Egyptian origins for Masonry are in many cases laughable, such as using the ancient Egyptian doctrine of Ma'at (denoting both physical/architectural and metaphysical/moral order) as proof that the central metaphors of Masonry must descend directly from Egypt.

Perhaps the most novel and interesting material in the book concerns the authors' readings of Hebrew scripture, and their theories of Hebrew custody of "the Sequenere resurrection ritual." Fortunately for serious students who may become impatient with the irritating journalistic style of the book, each chapter has a single-page "Conclusion" which can substitute as a summary for the chapter as a whole. I recommend reading the "Conclusions," and only going back to the actual details of the chapter for those that strike a personal interest.

The authors state in their first chapter that they "are very aware that the information which [they] give here may be considered by some Masons a betrayal of those secrets" which they have sworn to conceal. In fact, they give very detailed accounts of the Craft ceremonies as they received them in English lodges. We are expected to forgive them these willful exposures and violations of their oaths for two reasons:

1. "The United Grand Lodge of England considers only the means of recognition to be the protected secrets of the Order." (So much the worse for the United Grand Lodge of England! Masonry benefits from a stricter reading of the obligation of secrecy, where initiates acquire and demonstrate the discipline of confidentiality.)

2. The authors took their obligations on the condition that "they would not interfere with [their] freedom as moral, civil or religious agents," and they claim that to maintain secrecy on the matters discussed in the book would violate that condition.

Having read the book, I can find nothing in it which would create a moral, civil, or religious imperative for ritual exposure. The action agenda to which the authors' thesis builds, is to excavate under Rosslyn Chapel in search of early Christian MSS. The real imperative for the authors must surely have been the prospect of making some money off of a book to be sold to the general public. That being so, I recommend that Masons interested in the book check it out of a public library or buy a used copy, in order to avoid contributing to the royalty stream for the authors.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Jun 22, 2007 |
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Showing 8 of 8
Christopher Knight’s and Robert Lomas’s The Hiram Key is a laughable “history” of secret societies, the Freemasons, Judeo-Christian historical figures, and Egyptian Gnosticism. Therein lies the problem with writing about secret societies. Not much can either be proven or disproven. Their very clandestine nature requires that they do not leave a lot of historical documentation in their wake. Lomas and Knight try unflaggingly to connect small clues in artifacts and letters together to illustrate an alternate reading of history. They include the classic story of Jesus’s hidden family and the Rosslyn Chapel conspiracy along with evidence of an Egyptian influence on Judaism and the existence of secret scrolls that tell the true story of Freemasonry.

This book is laced with conspiracies, conjecture, and confusion. Luckily, each chapter has a handy-dandy conclusion section that you can skip to when you get too overwhelmed by the writers’ avalanche of secret knowledge. The whole book is basically a call to arms to dig up a church so that they can “prove” some of the more outlandish theories that they propose. There is little here by way of a bibliography or even footnotes, so tracing their scholarship is nearly impossible. You just have to sit back and enjoy the ride they take you on. And trust me: it is quite a wild ride. ( )
  NielsenGW | Jun 23, 2014 |
I honestly don't remember why I even have this book.
  aikifox85 | Jun 8, 2014 |
If you are a fan of Dan Brown-style conspiracy theories; if you think there is a secret society that holds the forbidden secrets of ‘real history;’ or if you enjoy a rollicking good trip around the looney bin, then you will love this book. If you are interested in actual history—be it the history of Christianity, the Church, the Templars, the Freemasons, or pretty much anything else—don’t even bother with this book (or anything else by its author, come to think of it). After all, if some historian actually DID prove that history isn’t like we always thought, historians everywhere would be scrambling for a piece of that pie. Who doesn’t want to the be actual academic that blows the lid off of a historical mystery? It’s the same principle by which if things like acupuncture really worked, acupuncturists would be richer than MDs. Of course, the author of this book would counter that the ‘establishment’ is trying to suppress the truth for….well, reasons. They’re not really clear on the advantage of this monumental cover up, but it must be a doozie, to have kept it all secret this long, right?

The author, Christopher Knight, together with Robert Lomas, Michael Baigent, and a small handful of loosely related armchair historians have all contributed to this field of pseudo-history. The essential narrative is that Freemasonry has its origins not in the bored upper classes of Victorian England, but in the mystical initiations of ancient Egyptian priests. This magical knowledge was so powerful that it was hidden in coded allegories and mysterious rituals, and eventually its true meaning was lost over time to all but a tiny, persecuted few, who jealously guarded their secret knowledge. From there, you can really improvise at will; toss in a wife and child for Christ, make Jesus a Freemason, whatever suits your fancy. In this book, it’s an unidentified Egyptian mummy that provides the missing link between the long-lost mysteries of the ancients and the opaque rituals of Freemasonry. But don’t stop there; you more or less have to get the Templars involved somehow, and bonus points if you can work in the Priory of Scion, the Cathars, Rosslyn Chapel, the Dead Sea Scrolls, some highly improbable astronomy, or time-traveling space aliens.

OK, maybe that’s a little hyperbolic; I don’t think there are actually time traveling space aliens in *this* book, but the rest are there. But Christopher Knight IS known for his claim that humans from the future traveled back in time to build the moon. (I am not making this up; click here if you doubt me!) And really, that’s all you need to know about this “history.” (I gave it three stars for entertainment value!) ( )
1 vote Mithalogica | Feb 13, 2014 |
To be honest, I read much but not all of this book. This book appears to be poorly researched although the authors often say that "they read this or they discovered that" yet never actually cite the sources of any of these "major discoveries". There may be those out there that will say that the authors cite several sources however those that are cited only reinforce minor premises in the book. Couple with this the fact that many so called discoveries are mere conjecture and others are leaps of logic that are hardly credible. It appears that these writers would be better suited to the realm of fiction.
(For clarification I am not now nor have I ever been a Freemason)

To read other reviews (by other people) on this book refer to these links
http://www.masonicinfo.com/books/hiramkey.htm
http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/reviews/hiram_key.html ( )
2 vote alexhunter | May 18, 2013 |
This book reads like a detective novel. The Library of Congress has cataloged it under Freemasons - history, so it is taken seriously. This book, along with "The Passover Plot" and "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" are carefully researched but written in the vernacular of the adventure novel, as if it were a real live Indiana Jones. Having seen the mummy in question in other publications, I do realize it is unusual, but do not place upon it the same significance as the authors do. What with modern archaeological methods, one day this may be possible. The bottom line is that the book is an entertaining read and challenges current orthodox history. ( )
  drj | May 25, 2009 |
Nothing is hidden that will not made known, or secret that will not come to light. ( )
  Munchausen | Sep 15, 2008 |
This book has been the source of some heat, if little light, among students of esoteric history.

The scholarship in The Hiram Key is not profound, and it compares poorly with other books that treat similar themes and topics, such as Robertson's Born in Blood or Assmann's Moses the Egyptian. It is certainly wide-ranging, and seems to incorporate a dozen other recent theories on the Shroud of Turin, Templar survival in Scotland, Egyptian elements in Hebrew religion, lost Christian scriptures, and Masonic origins.

The picture of Gnosticism presented by Knight and Lomax is a caricature. Their theories of Egyptian origins for Masonry are in many cases laughable, such as using the ancient Egyptian doctrine of Ma'at (denoting both physical/architectural and metaphysical/moral order) as proof that the central metaphors of Masonry must descend directly from Egypt.

Perhaps the most novel and interesting material in the book concerns the authors' readings of Hebrew scripture, and their theories of Hebrew custody of "the Sequenere resurrection ritual." Fortunately for serious students who may become impatient with the irritating journalistic style of the book, each chapter has a single-page "Conclusion" which can substitute as a summary for the chapter as a whole. I recommend reading the "Conclusions," and only going back to the actual details of the chapter for those that strike a personal interest.

The authors state in their first chapter that they "are very aware that the information which [they] give here may be considered by some Masons a betrayal of those secrets" which they have sworn to conceal. In fact, they give very detailed accounts of the Craft ceremonies as they received them in English lodges. We are expected to forgive them these willful exposures and violations of their oaths for two reasons:

1. "The United Grand Lodge of England considers only the means of recognition to be the protected secrets of the Order." (So much the worse for the United Grand Lodge of England! Masonry benefits from a stricter reading of the obligation of secrecy, where initiates acquire and demonstrate the discipline of confidentiality.)

2. The authors took their obligations on the condition that "they would not interfere with [their] freedom as moral, civil or religious agents," and they claim that to maintain secrecy on the matters discussed in the book would violate that condition.

Having read the book, I can find nothing in it which would create a moral, civil, or religious imperative for ritual exposure. The action agenda to which the authors' thesis builds, is to excavate under Rosslyn Chapel in search of early Christian MSS. The real imperative for the authors must surely have been the prospect of making some money off of a book to be sold to the general public. That being so, I recommend that Masons interested in the book check it out of a public library or buy a used copy, in order to avoid contributing to the royalty stream for the authors.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Jun 22, 2007 |
great book on the history of the Freemasons. It has some really thought provoking theories.
  w_ynelle | May 26, 2006 |
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