John Lightfoot was a noted biblical critic and Hebrew scholar. A Parliamentarian with Presbyterian views, he was appointed Master of St Catharine’s Hall, Cambridge, by the Parliamentary Visitors in the year The Temple was published, and it was dedicated to William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons. He played a considerable part in the preparation of the Polyglot Bible of 1657 (catalogue no. 73 ).
As his title states, Lightfoot was mainly concerned with Herod’s Temple, though he does also deal with Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s. He offers details on the dimensions and layout, comparing the height of the battlements, for example, with King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. He is also interested in the contents of the Temple and the priestly practices. His treatise is a modest one and has no illustrations. Lightfoot tells his readers that he has drawn a large plan, which makes his description much easier to understand, but that he decided to publish his text first, ‘to try what acceptance this treatise will finde, before I adde more paines and charge from the ingraving of the Map’.
The expense of copperplate engraving was a serious consideration. Hartlib noted in the year The Temple was published that: ‘Dr Fuller is writing a Geography of Canaan with curious cuts which cost him 2. hundred lb. The worke may be called Speed’s Canaan.’ Lightfoot had links to this project also, as Hartlib records (Hartlib Papers, 28/1/52A [Ephemerides, 1650]):
Hee [Fuller] and Lightfoot would make an excellent compound. The latter was purposing to write also vpon it as hee hath done of Temple-service, but then left it to Fuller who is no Antiquary but of stupendous witt and memory.
Thomas Fuller’s Pisgah-Sight of Palestine was also published in 1650.