In Western churches, ‘a pulpit is an elevated and enclosed platform from which the sermon is delivered during service.” (www.britannica.com) The newadvent.org (Catholic Encyclopedia) defines it as ‘an elevated stand to preach on.”
I’ve seen several centuries-old pulpits in some of the Catholic churches that I visited.
This old-style pulpit is displayed inside the St. Peter of Alcantara Church in Pakil, Laguna, Philippines. A church made of bamboo was built in 1676 when Pakil separated from Paete. Then the stone church was constructed in 1732 and completed in 1767 (Marker). We can infer therefore, that the old-style pulpit is more than 200 years old.
The old-style pulpit in Maragondon Church, Cavite.
The stone church in Maragondon was constructed in 1714 (Marker), thus we can say that this ancient pulpit is more than 300 years old.
Ancient pulpit in San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila.
‘The adobe stone church was constructed in 1586 and was completed in 1607.’ (www.artesdelasfilipinas.com) We can therefore say that the pulpit is more than 400 years old.
These centuries-old pulpits are not just part of the aesthetic of the churches’ interior design, they also serve as reminder of the history of the church.
We also read about pulpits in the Old Testament. 2 Chronicles 6:13 refers to “a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high” (NIV) which King Solomon “had placed in the center of the outer court” (Ibid) of the Temple. The last sentence of the verse states, “He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.” (Ibid). He used this platform to utter his prayer of dedication for the newly constructed Temple.
Another Old Testament reference to a pulpit is found in Ezra 8:4. Ezra the scribe returned to Jerusalem after the rebuilding of the Temple to teach the people about the Law of of God, to beautify the Temple and to restore the Temple service. (Halley) The verse opens with this statement “And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose…” (KJV, italics mine).
In the New Testament, there is no mention of a pulpit but Jesus used an elevated portion of a hill to preach the Beatitudes in Matthew chapters 5 to 7. He also used a boat to preach (Luke 5: 1-11).
Today, the pulpit is still widely used in almost all religions. The design may vary but the essence is still the same.
Halley’s Bible Handbook. ePub Format. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
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