Juan Bautista Villalpando’s ezechielem Explanationes: A Sixteenth-Century Architectural Text

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This is the first translation into English of Juan Bautisa Villalpando’s Book Five of In Ezechielem Explanationes et Apparatus Vrbis Templi Hierosolymitani. After its publication in 1604 the work stimulated a debate—over not only the architecture of Solomon’s Temple but on the very nature of the origins of architecture—that endured for more than one hundred and fifty years, in the form of commentaries and other reconstructions.


“[Ezechielem Explanationes] is a work of architectural theory that is not just deeply embedded in the Christian tradition, but more specifically in the Counter-Reformations’ desire to revitalise a moribund and corrupt church. In order to achieve this goal, the Jesuit Villalpando was drawn to offer a definitive reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon. It is in the process of reconstruction that the parallel strata in Villalpando’s work are expertly excavated in Morrison’s translation. Certainly the Temple of Solomon is revealed in Villalpando’s text as a direct reflection of God’s glory. Previous translations of isolated fragments of the text have revealed that the orthographic projection, constructed of pure geometric relationships between the part and the whole, was the ideal device for interpreting the form, proportion and materiality of the temple. However, this translation also reinforces the view that Villalpando’s reconstruction was as much political as it was architectural. . . . Founded on scholarship and delineated by mathematics, architecture and cabbalism, Villalpando’s work is a reconstruction of both a physical temple and a tarnished faith. . . . Morrison’s commentary on Villalpando’s work uncovers this and other often contradictory but relentlessly clever ways in which the Jesuit Villalpando adopted and refined some ideas from his era while critically rejecting others.” – Prof. Michael J. Ostwald, University of Newcastle, Australia

“As Morrison demonstrates in her commentary, the thinking behind this text is a complex interaction between the ideals of Humanism and the demands of Phillip’s Counter-Reformation. The idea of Solomon’s Temple as the originary site of western architecture was extremely potent and this text forms a significant part of a long scholarly tradition. – Prof. Harriet Edquist, RMIT University

“Architectural grandeur and religious expression walk hand-in-hand with vibrant and argumentative social, cultural, intellectual and economic engagement in the world. These remarkable forces — human, social and divine are interrelated phenomena. Villalpando’s work is at once devotional and architectural, and in itself constitutes social and anthropological windows upon Spanish and Mediterranean world history.” – Prof. Neil Morpeth, University of New Castle, Australia

Table of Contents

Preface by Professor Michael J. Ostwald Acknowledgments
1. Background to the Reconstruction
2. Villalpando’s Visual Comprehension, the Engravings and the Nature of his Architectural Drawings
3. Overview of the Text of Ezechielem Explanationes
4. The Divine Architect and the Universal Church as a Building
5. Sources and Influences
6. Support and Criticism
7. Legacy
Translation of the work
Appendix A
Appendix B

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