The Symbolism of the Sage

The Great Pyramid is the silent Sage. Sage, because of the incredible breadth of knowledge and revelation that has been extracted from it in math, geometry, metrology, astronomy, architecture, and symbology. Silent, because these revelations come only to those who seek to find and understand them. For those who don’t, there is only silence.

One focal concern which constantly arises among the students of the Sage is meaning. “What does this measurement mean? What is the purpose of this angle? Why does this number seem sacred to them? Why is this passage placed here?” Various answers are given but there is no consensual agreement on an overall explanatory motif or story. Independent Egyptological researcher Manu Seyfzadeh, with Jean-Paul Bauval, recently put out a call for collaboration among Great Pyramid scholars, which is quite unusual. They placed dimensions and measurements of the Great Pyramid on a YouTube video and in the description wrote this: “We invite all researchers to become familiar with it and see how it helps them to study the most mysterious monument in the history of the world.” But as far as I can tell the results are not very robust. (1) The Great Pyramid is a one-of-a-kind structure, and seems to spawn one-of-a-kind interpretations.

Many utilitarian purposes have been theorized for this Mighty Structure. It was a source of irrigation for Egypt, it was a Tesla-like power plant, it was an energy shock-absorber to prevent seismic spikes, and so on. But while it might have had some utilitarian functions like these in the past, it does not now. Probably the most consensual interpretation of the Pyramid is the conventional one from Egyptologists who claim that it was tomb for the Pharaoh, even though no Pharaoh has ever been found buried in an Egyptian pyramid. And even with this agreement of its mortuary purpose, there is no singular interpretation arising from its various passages.

There is, however, one school of interpretation which has had a long history and a large consensus of interpretation on the meaning of the Great Pyramid’s passages. I am referring to the work of the Christian interpreters, those who see an elaboration of the Christian faith in its internal structures. Some of the more well-known among these interpreters are C. Piazzi Smyth(2), David Davidson(3), Joseph Seiss(4), George Riffert(5), Basil Stewart(6), Julian Gray(7), John and Morton Edgar(8), Adam Rutherford(9), E. Raymond Capt(10), and, one of the few still actively publishing, Helena Lehman. (11)

The label “Pyramidiots” has been used by the mainstream to belittle this group of interpreters. At first blush this pejorative term seems perhaps justified. Christianity did not come around as a religion for over 2000 years after the Pyramid was built. “How dare then,” you might exclaim, “the audacity of these Pyramidiots to force their theological interpretations on an Egyptian monument from a much older time?!”

But in this post I will give voice to the Christian Pyramidiots for several reasons. The first reason is that there have been profound scholars from their ranks such as Davidson, Rutherford, and Smyth, whose measurements and scholarship are sometimes consulted and utilized by others who do not share their beliefs. Secondly, their legacy should not be written out of the history of Pyramid interpretation,(12) if honest historical scholarship is a value. Thirdly, it is just basic courtesy to let every genuine scholar air their views. If their interpretations are offered in good faith, and are not the result of deceit or exaggeration, they deserve a place at the table. And the final reason I am bringing notice to these banned views is that the positions held by most Christian “Pyramidiots” are rational, cogent, and seem to fit with the architectural design of the Pyramid’s chambers as they exist. You may not like their interpretations, but that is hardly a legitimate standard for failing to adequately evaluate them.

Following are brief descriptions of the main lines of Christian interpretation of the Great Pyramid passages, following the numbering on the following diagram:

Number key for the following Christian interpretations of Great Pyramid passages

1. When you enter the original entrance of the Pyramid, you are off center. And you are headed downhill. This indicates the human condition. You are a fallen creature, cursed by the original sin that plaques every member of the human race, and your path is downward. The ways of man by nature are corrupt.

The Christian view of the nature of man, illustrated in the Great Pyramid

2. The corruption of the human condition leads ultimately to the fires of hell, and the end of human life. This is symbolized by the path of the Descending Passage and its ultimate destination of the Subterranean Chamber and the Dead End Passage.

Christian symbolic interpretation of Great Pyramid passages

3. But a way was made by God for the human race to find a different path that could lead upward, toward life and Heaven, rather than downward toward death and hell. This is symbolized by the First Ascending Passage breaking away upward from the Descending Passage, at the same angle (26 degrees, 18 minutes) at which it was headed down. This First Ascending Passage was just as dark and low as the Descending Passage (forcing human travelers to have to bend over to move through it) but now headed upward toward the upper realms of the Pyramid rather than its pit.

The First Ascending Passage of the Great Pyramid breaks away from the downward course

4. This First Ascending Passage thus symbolizes the Exodus of the Israelites, when they broke away from Egypt and received the guidance of the Ten Commandments, God’s law. The First Ascending Passage thus leads towards Heaven, but in the dark era of trying to live by the Law, the “yoke of bondage.” Here are two examples from Christian books showing the likening of the First Ascending Passage to the era of bondage under the law.

Diagram from George Riffert showing the First Ascending Passage named “LAW.”
David Davidson’s drawing, in Basil Stewart’s book “The Witness of the Great Pyramid”, showing the First Ascending Passage being labeled “Israel under ‘yoke of law’.”

5. The next major architectural change in the Great Pyramid after one is heading upward in the First Ascending Passage, symbolizing living by the burden of the law, is the Grand Gallery. When one enters the Grand Gallery from the First Ascending Passage, one moves from a crouched, uncomfortable position, to standing up in a room which is an inspiring seven-gabled marvel. The Christian interpreters say this changed architecture symbolizes the change available to believers for living life under God’s grace, provided by the death and resurrection of His Son. Notice the naming of the Grand Gallery in the two diagrams above: “Gospel Age” and “Grace.” The floor of the Grand Gallery is at the same slope angle as the First Ascending Passage, showing that both eras, that of Law and that of Grace are both headed upward, toward the promises of the Kings Chamber.

It should be here noted that almost all of the Christian interpreters of the Great Pyramid, including Piazzi Smyth, employed a time scale of an inch for a year. With every inch measured on the actual architecture of the Great Pyramid’s passages, a solar year of time was represented. It was thus widely claimed that point 3, the Exodus point, took place during a year actually corresponding to the Israelite exodus from the land of Egypt. The entrance into point 5, the Grand Gallery, was representative of the death and resurrection of Christ, and, by the inch-for-year standard, again, the claim was made that the actual year of Christ’s crucifixion was indicated. The entrance into section 6, then, represented the chaos and crisis that was to characterize the world before the return of Christ at the End of the Age, the Second Coming of Christ. Many charts done by Christian interpreters thus showed events indicating the horrors of World War I and World War II as these times of tribulation. 1914, the year that World War I began is the most commonly depicted year on these charts, as evidence by this one from Adam Rutherford:

Adam Rutherford chart showing 1914 as a beginning date for world tribulation

6. The antechamber is the name given the low passage that connects the Grand Gallery with the Kings Chamber. This is the part of the Pyramid that Christian expositors suggested represented world tribulation that would precede the return of Christ, represented by the Kings Chamber and its empty sarcophagus. After reaching the Great Step, the journeyer now, for the first time since entering the First Ascending Passage, must change his path, which, through the First Ascending Passage and Grand Gallery has been a gentle 26 degree incline. But now the Great Step requires a giant step – about a yard- upward:

The Great Step requires a giant step upward to continue the path to the Kings Chamber

This giant step up puts one on a small platform for one to catch one’s breath after the upward climb, and to prepare oneself to bow and crouch, which is necessary because of the low ceiling in the Antechamber preceding the Kings Chamber. Rutherford was one who suggested that the inch-for-a-year standard may change once the inches reach the antechamber, because its floor was granite, unlike the limestone floor leading to it. He even suggested time scales may stop entirely, because granite symbolized divine things which could not be measured conventionally.

Many diagrams with various years between 1914 and the end of the 20th Century were produced on the charts of the Christian Pyramidiots during the 20th Century, all believing that the Great Pyramid was going to yield, like Bible prophecy in stone, the time prophecies to prepare the faithful for the return of Christ. Different significant world events were placed on these charts, but eventually this multiplication of attempts trying to pinpoint the end of time dwindled, because, well, time wasn’t ending! Below is an example of one of these charts of the antechamber, with dates from the mid Twentieth Century, from Basil Stewart’s work, The Witness of the Great Pyramid, page 175. Notice his final date is August of 1953. Since he was writing in 1927, 1953 was over twenty years in the future, and Stewart was sure the world would be finished by then, and Christ returned.

From Basil Stewart’s book, The Witness of the Great Pyramid, p. 175.

7. So Stewart’s chart takes us from “6,” the Antechamber, to “7”, the Kings Chamber. This is where the empty coffer is, for Christian interpreters, the sign that Christ is risen. An empty sarcophagus would symbolize the fulfillment of the angel’s words to Mary Magdalene spoken at Matthew 28:6, “He is not here, He is risen…” The Kings Chamber would symbolize the Age to Come, so dates reaching to the Kings Chamber would indicate the end of the world as we know it, and an entrance into the next life. In one sense, the Christian hope was the same as that of the ancient Egyptians… that after this life would be another, which was a continuation of the present life… The quest of the Pharaoh to successfully reach the next life is the quest of every man, and the Christian expositors saw the resurrection of Christ, and His redemptive sacrifice on behalf of the human race as their ticket to that afterlife. Here is a YouTube video which places the measures and internal architecture of the Great Pyramid in a Christian context.

To repeat, one of the reasons that I have included this short summary of the Christian interpretation of the Great Pyramid here is because it is a reasonable interpretation given Christian theology, and given the general symbolism of the layout of the Pyramid. And it is an interpretation believed by some of the great minds which have interpreted the Great Pyramid, including David Davidson, C. Piazzi Smyth and Adam Rutherford. Their ideas are as real – or as crazy – as any believer in aliens or Atlantis – aren’t they?

Footnotes

  1. The YouTube URL is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_58YZCsM9c4&feature=youtu.be There are few comments on the video, and the written elaboration of it here: https://www.academia.edu/42950926/Bauval_Seyfzadeh_Communication
  2. Piazzi Smyth, The Great Pyramid: Its Secrets and Mysteries Revealed, Gramercy Books, 1978, first published in 1880 as Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid.
  3. David Davidson, The Great Pyramid: Its Divine Message, Kessinger Publishing, 1925.
  4. Joseph Seiss, Miracle in Stone, Porter and Coates, 1878.
  5. George Riffert, Great Pyramid Proof of God, Destiny Publishers, 1932.
  6. Basil Stewart, The Great Pyramid: Its Construction, Symbolism, and Chronology, Sun Publishing, 1992.
  7. Julian Gray, The Authorship and Message of the Great Pyramid, E. Steinmann & Co., 1953.
  8. John and Morton Edgar, The Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers, Bone & Hulley, Glasgow, 1923.
  9. Adam Rutherford, Pyramidology I, II, III and IV, The Institute of Pyramidology, Harpenden, England, 1962.
  10. E. Raymond Capt, The Great Pyramid Decoded, Artisan Sales, 1971.
  11. Helen Lehman, The Language of God in History, Pillar of Enoch Ministry Books, 2004.
  12. For instance a recent history of the development of the Great Pyramid, including those who have explored it, did not include C. Piazzi Smyth or John Taylor. David Lightbody and Franck Monnier, The Great Pyramid: 2590 BC Onwards, Haynes Publishing, 2019.

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