Pulpit (מַגדּוֹל, migddol, Ne 8:4, properly tower), an elevated stage, whence Ezra read the law unto the congregation (comp. 9:4). See Bible Educator ii. 263.
PULPIT (Lat.pulpitum; Fr. chaire, pupitre meaning a lectern, lection being a book-desk), an elevated place from which sermons are delivered. Ezra, when reading the law, stood on a pulpit of wood high above the people (Ne 8:4); and Solomon prayed on a brazen scatfold (2Ch 6:13). In mediaeval times the word designates the rood-loft. Becon uses it in its modern sense. It is said to remind the hearer of Christ going up on the mountain to preach his Sermon of Beatitudes. Originally, it would appear to have been used chiefly for the singing, chanting, or recitation which forms part of the public service, and was a kind of stage sufficiently large to accommodate two, or even more, chanters. For the convenience of the hearers, this stage began to be used by the bishop, priest, or deacon, in the delivery of the homily; and thus, by degrees, a tribune expressly suited to the latter use alone came to be introduced. The earliest pulpit was the ambo, tribune, or tribunal, as it is called bv Prutlentius. Epiphanius says that St. Chrvsostom usually preached from the ambo; so did St. Ambrose and St. Augustine; and Nicephorus records that Macedonius, patriarch of Constantinople in 489, mounted the ambo when he desired to clear himself of a charge of heresy. In some of the older churches, the ambo, or pulpitum, is still used for the chanting of the Gospel and Epistles. The ambo was placed in the centre of the church by the Greeks; it is in the middle of the nave at St. Pancras's, at Rome, on the left side, but on the right at Milan and Ravenna. At St. Clement's, Rome, the Epistle desk is on the left, and that of the prophecies on the right. At Chartres, Bayeux, and Roiament the matin lections were sung on the left side of the choir-entrance, and the desk was called the legend at Chartres. At Bourges, an eagle stood in front of the matin altar. A pulpit at Orleans and Chalonssur-Marne was used for reading the Epistle, Gradual, Tract, and Alleluia; the Gospel was sung on the west side of the jube at Chartres, Chalons, and Lyons, that for the lections facing the east. At Bayeux and Novon there were several desks. At Lyons and Vienne, the Gospel was read in the lower part of the choir, and the Epistle from the ambo; but the latter was used at both times at Rheilns, Cambrai, Tours, Rouen, Sens, Chalons, Laon, Soissons, Noyon, Amiens, Beauvais, Senlis, Orleans, Meaux, Tournay, Bayeux, and St. Denis. The desk for reading the Gospel was called the pulpit; the lectern held the choir-books. The former was movable, so as to be transferred from the one side to the other of the choir, and used by the subdeacon for reading the Epistle; whereas the lectern stood in the centre of the choir as a fixture, and was common to all the cantors in time of singing. Both, from their common ornament, the symbol of St. John Evangelist, were called the Eagle; and it appears on the ambones of Pistoja of the 13th century, and in three ancient churches at Rome. The deacon, taking the Book of the Gospels, richly bound in ivory, metal, and jewelry, carried it processionally, preceded by thurifers and taper-bearers, to the north side, where the pulpit stood. Fulk, abbot of Lobbes in the 9th century, made a wonderful eagle, on which burned four tapers in the form of a cross; a censer was contrived in its neck, which poured fragrant smoke from the beak and flaming eyes of the bird; and the head and wings were movable, for the convenience of turning the book. Often the other three evangelists were represented as writing the words sung by the deacon; at Messina there is one with the pelican, as the symbol of the Saviour, above all. At Narbonne, in the cathedral, there is a movable pulpit of the 14th century, consisting of two iron supports set saltierwise, and supporting a bookstand of supple leather. Those of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, and Bury St. Edmund's, mentioned in the 12th century, were movable until the 14th century. In Belgium, the ambo or a faldstool, set before the altar, served as a pulpit. According to John de Garlande, who wrote at the close of the 11th century, a pulpit is the ascent of steps to the lectern, upon which the chant- or reading-book was laid. The doublle pulpits of Milan, Narni, and Perugia connect the tradition with the ambones; those of Toledo are of bronze, and those at Seville are still used for singing the Gospel and Epistle. In three of the ancient churches at Rome, the Epistle ambo is square, and stands on the north; while that for the Gospel is round, and stands on the south side, with flights of stairs leading up to it. The ordinary pulpit also stood on the south side, as at Toledo, because the Gospel was preached from it. The jutbe for the gospeller and epistoler in large churches took the place of the ambo, and within two centuries was used by the preacher at Rouen; but in smaller churches a pulpit was used, yet there is no existing example or record of such furniture until the 13th century. Pulpits were formerly placed not only in churches, but also in the refectories of monasteries, as at Beverley, Shrewsbury, Chester, etc.; in the cloisters, as at St. Did, in France; and occasionally in public thoroughfares, as on the north side of the church of Notre Dame; at St. Lo, in Normandy, and in the outer court of Magdalen College, Oxford. In France there are several overlooking cemeteries. In churches the pulpits were formerly alvays placed in the nave, attached to a wall, pillar, or screen, and the ecclesiastics and others who occupied the choir during the mass removed into the nave to hear the sermon: this custom was continued at Ely until quite recently.
The church pulpit is usually hexagonal or octagonal, and of wood, possibly in allusion to Christ's preaching from the boat (Lu 5:1). In Roman Catholic churches the pulpit is generally distinguished by some religious emblems, especially by the crucifix; and the pulpits of the Low Countries and of Germany are often masterpieces of wood-carving, the preaching- place in some of them forming part of a great artistic group, as of the Conversion of St. Paul, the Vocation of Peter and Andrew, the Temptation of Adam and Eve, and other similar subjects.
Early pulpits were, no doubt, movable, and kept in corners until required for use, like that still preserved at Hereford; and at Bury, the analogium, or pulpit, we know, was removed from the chapter-house into the church when it was necessary. This, no doubt, is the cause of their present rarity. There are fine examples of pulpits at King's Sutton, Kingsbury Episcopi, Wolvercot, North Kilworth, Dartmouth, and Frampton (which has images of saints). Those of Sudbury, Southwold, Hereford, and Winchester are of wood, and of the 16th century. The earliest Jacobean example is at Sopley (1606). There are stationary pulpits of stone at Wells of the 16th century, at Worcester (1504), Ripon, Combe, Nantwich, and Wolverhampton. The oldest wooden pulpit is at Fulbourne (cir. 1350). In Italy there are examples of the 13th and 14th centuries at Siena and St. Miniato, Florence; in Germany there are stone pulpits at Freiburg and Ulm of the latter part of the 15th century; at Avignon, in France; and Nieuport, in Belgium. lThere is a Byzantine pulpit, said to have been brought from St. Sophia's, Constantinople, at St. Mark's, Venice. Romanesque pulpits may be seen in St. Ambrose's, Milanl; St. Mary's, Toscanella; and St. Sabino's, Canova. There is an octagonal pulpit, dated 1482, at Ratisbon; that of Kidrich is cir. 1491. An hexagonal pulpit is at St. Andrew's, Pistoja. The octagonal pulpit of Perugia is used for giving the benediction. There is a superb 13th- century pulpit on seven pillars in the baptistery at Pisa, with lecterns for the Gospel and Epistle on the stairs. Abbot Wygmore's pulpit, Gloucester, was on the north, and placed against the third pillar westward of the crossing. The south, or men's, side is the most common position, as at Wells, Chartres, Haarlem, Aix, and formerly at Winchester, Peterborough, Gloucester, and Worcester. In England the pulpits were copied from those of the refectory, and such as stood in the open air. In cathedral churches the pulpit was often large enough to contain several persons, as the bishop, when preaching, was accompanied by his two archdeacons. Gilding and color were not employed on pulpits until the 15th century. Many of these pulpits were highly enriched with carving; that of Worcester has the New Jerusalem, and one of stone at Newton Nottage has the Scourging sculptured upon it. One at Burnham Norton, of wood, is painted with the Doctors of the Church. In the 16th century stone pulpits were introduced. There are magnificent wooden pulpits at Strasburg (1481); Mayence, Antwerp, Faye la Vineuse, Nuremberg, Brussels (1699); and Vienna, from which John Capistran preached a Turkish crusade in 1451. At Durham there was an iron pulpit, or ambo, in the galilee, from which the Sunday sermon was preached to women. There is another on the north-west at San Gil, Burgos; and two like ambones, fitted with desks, of the 15th century, flank the screen of Zamora. The two pulpits of Milan are of metal, and circular. At Aix the choir pulpit is silvergilt and jewelled. At Lugo, one of the two metal ambones has an eagle on the south. The pulpit (in Arabic, mimber) forms one of the scanty appliances of Mohammedan worship. — Walcott, Sacred Architecture,. s.v.; Parker, Glossary of Architecture, s.v.