This upcoming Fall semester, a two-credit religious course, REL390R, will be introduced by Bruce K. Satterfield, a religious education professor. Satterfield studied archaeology and anthropology.
The new course is Ancient Temple and Ancient Text, where Satterfield plans on reviewing different aspects such as rituals, architecture and purposes of temples all over the world.
Spencer Shepherd, a junior studying construction management, is the teacher’s assistant for the new course.
“It’s gonna cover temples,” Shepherd said. “It’s gonna help people understand what goes on in a temple. And it’s going to really go over a lot of typologies that are found in temples… It’ll help people recognize temples of other faiths and our faith as well.”
BYU-Idaho offers 25 religion courses, including REL390R. There are no specifics listed in the course details, due to REL309R changing each semester.
Cody Aden, a sophomore studying biomedical science, wasn’t totally aware of the course but shared an interest in learning more about ancient Mesoamerican temples and their relations with the scriptures.
“(Aztec temples are) something we don’t learn about in school very much,” Aden said. “Plus, it would give some background to the Book of Mormon.”
Jordan Nelson, a sophomore studying biology, would like to visit the cultural ruins of the Mayans.
“I’m assuming you learn about different architectures and stuff,” said Jordan Nelson, a sophomore studying biology. “It’d be really cool to learn about all different religions and different temples.”
Riley Hemmelgarn, a sophomore studying recreation management, had not heard anything about the course before.
“I think anytime that they bring in more culture more diversity is a good thing,” Hemmelgarn said. “Temples from around the world are a good thing.”
Satterfield studies various temples all over the world. He was primarily involved with an archaeological dig in the Middle East.
In Satterfield’s office, there is a library with more than 20 books on his desk, sometimes five laying open at a time. Loose research papers are scattered across his desk and smaller replicas of ancient statues and some of his personal artifacts sit on his shelf.
Satterfield said the symbols in the Nauvoo temple and modern temples parallel what is found in ancient text. Anyone with a working knowledge of ancient temple rituals can see the connection with old Canaanite archaeological digs.
The point of the class is it to help students recognize the symbolism found in ancient temples so they understand the symbolism in modern temples and evaluate the experience of temple worship.
“What a temple is is a miniature universe; it’s a cosmic earth,” Satterfield said. “A temple is a place where you go to get yourself fixed in the universe.”