Pinnacle In the account of our Lord's temptation (Mt 4:5), it is stated that the devil took him to Jerusalem, "and set him on a [rather the] pinnacle of the Temple" (ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ). The part of the Temple denoted by this term has been much questioned by different commentators, and the only certain conclusion seems to be that it cannot be understood in the sense usually attached to the word (i.e. the point of a spiral ornament), as in that case the article would not have been prefixed. Grotius, Hammond, Doddridge, and others take it in the sense of balustrade or pinnated battlement. But it is now more generally supposed to denote what was called the king's portico, which is mentioned by Josephus (A nt. 15:11, 5), and is the same which is called in Scripture "Solomon's porch." Of this opinion are Wetstein, Kuinil, Parkhurst, Rosenmüller, and others. Krebs, Schleusner, and some others, however, fancy that the word signifies the ridge of the roof of the Temple; and Josephus (Ant. 15:11,:5) is cited in proof of this notion. But we know that iron spikes were fixed all over the roof of the Temple to prevent the holy edifice from being defiled by birds (Joseph. Was, v, 5, 6), and the presence of these spikes creates an objection, although the difficulty is perhaps not insuperable, as we are told that the priests sometimes went to the top of the Temple (Midcoth, ch. 4; T. Bab. tit. Taanith, fol. 29). Dr. Bloomfield asks: "May it not have been a lofty spiral turret, placed somewhere about the center of the building, like the spire in some cathedrals, to the topmost lookout of which the devil might take Jesus ?" (Recens. Synopt. in Mt 4:5). We answer, no: steeples do not belong to ancient or to Oriental architecture, and it is somewhat hazardous to provide one for the sole purpose of meeting the supposed occasion of this text. Lightfoot, whose opinion on this point is entitled to much respect, declares his inability to judge whether the part denoted should be considered as belonging to the holy fabric itself or to some building within the holy circuit. If the former, he can find no place so fitting as the top of the אולם, or porch of the Temple; but if the latter, the royal porch or gallery (στοὰ βασιλική) is the part he would prefer. He adds that, above all other parts of the Temple, the porch thereof, and indeed the whole pronaos, might not unfitly be called τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, the wing (for that is the literal meaning) of the Temple, "because like wings it extended itself in breadth on each side, far beyond the breadth of the Temple." If therefore the devil had placed Christ on the very precipice of this part of the Temple, he may well be said to have placed him "upon the wing of the Temple; both because this part was like a wing to the Temple itself, and because that precipice was the wing of this part" (Hot. Hebr. ad Mt 4:5). Against this interpretation, however, it stems decisive that Jesus, not being a priest, could not have gained admittance to the Temple proper; unless, indeed, we understand that he was transported thither and back again miraculously. With regard to the other alternative, it is only necessary to cite the description of Josephus to show that the situation was at least not inappropriate to Satan's object:

"On the south part (of the court of the Gentiles) was στοὰ βασιλική, 'the royal gallery,' that may be mentioned among the most magnificent things under the sun; for above the profoundest depth of the valley, Herod constructed a gallery of a vast height, from the top of which, if any one looked down, he would become dizzy, his eyes being unable to reach so vast a depth." The same Greek word is used in the Sept. version to render,

1. כָּבָŠ, kandah, a wing or border, e.g. of a garment (Nu 15:38; 1Sa 15:27; 1Sa 24:4);

Definition of pinnacle

2. סנִפַּיר, senappir, the fin of a fish (Le 11:9. So Arist. Anim. 1, 5, 14);

3. קָצָה, katsdh, an edge; A.V. end (Ex 28:26). Hesychius explains πτερύγιον as ἀκρωτήριον. Perhaps in any case τὸ πτερύγιον means the battlement ordered by law to be added to every roof. It is in favor of this that the word kandph is used to indicate the top of the Temple (Da 9:27; Hammond, Grotius, Calmet, De Wette, Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad Matthew 4). Eusebius tells us that it was from "the pinnacle" (τὸ πτερύγιον) that St. James was precipitated, and it is said to have remained until the 4th century (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 2, 23; Williams, Holy City, 2, 338). SEE TEMPLE.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

PINNACLE is an architectural term used to designate a small turret or tall ornament, usually tapering towards the top, and much used in Gothic architecture as a termination to buttresses, etc. Pinnacles are not used in the Norman style, though there exist a few small turrets, of late date, with pointed terminations, which appear to be their prototypes, as at the west end of Rochester Cathedral, and the north transept of the church of St. Stephen at Caen.

In the Early English style they are not very abundant; they are found circular, octagonal, or square; some are perfectly plain, as at the east end of Battle Church, Sussex; others are surrounded with small shafts, as at Peterborough and Wells; and in some instances the tops are crocketed. Towards the latter part of this style the system of surmounting each face of the shaft with a small pediment was introduced, and about the same period the shafts began to be occasionally made of open-work, so as to form niches for statues.

Decorated pinnacles are very numerous; they have the shafts sometimes formed into niches, and sometimes paneled or quite plain, and each of the sides almost invariably terminates in a pediment; the tops are generally crocketed, and always have finials on the points: in form they are most usually square, but are sometimes octagonal, and in a few instances hexagonal and pentagonal; occasionally, in this style, square pinnacles are placed diagonally.

In the Perpendicular style they do not in general differ much from those of the Decorated; polygonal forms are not very frequently found, and square pinnacles are very much oftener placed diagonally on buttresses, etc.; they are also in rich buildings abundantly used on the offsets of buttresses, as well as at the tops: instead of the small pediments over the sides of the shaft, it is sometimes finished with a complete molded cornice or capping, out of which the top of the pinnacle rises, and sometimes in the place of a top of this kind the figure of an animal holding a vane, or some other device, is used: there are a few examples of pinnacles in this style with ogee-shaped tops. In the fine Perpendicular towers the pinnacles are often the most striking feature. Examples are seen on Merton and Magdalen towers in Oxford, and many of the towers in Somersetshire.

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