There is a sharp and noticeable distinction, an obvious point of demarcation, between what is fact and what is fiction in our ritual.  Throughout our Degrees, certain terms are used.  When someone says, “Sacred History teaches us”, or “The great Jewish Historian Josephus informs us” or a similar term, the lecturer is about to refer to an item of historical or religious fact.  What he is about to describe is the way it was, or what happened.

But whenever he says “Masonic Tradition informs us”, you can bet that what you are about to hear is an allegory, a fable, completely fictional.  It is a symbolic teaching and not a historical lesson.

An illustration of this would be that it would make no difference in what we teach if the letter “G” was replaced with “A” for Architect, “D” for Deity (as done in some jurisdictions), or (as is most common outside the USA) there were no letter within the Square and Compass at all, and we simply symbolized our devotion to The Most High by the representation of His Holy Word atop the altar.  The lesson would not change.  However, our law is very clear.  The letter "G" cannot be replaced with an “A”, nor with a “D”, an "H", a "J" nor a "K".   It cannot be removed.  It cannot be lower case.

Fortunately, because ritual does not affect law, and law does not affect ritual, the possible contradictions that might arise from this do not occur.  Our ritual is what it is, and exists to instruct our minds and inspire our spirits.  Our law is what it is, and exists to bind our behavior and regulate our actions.

In fact, it is most likely that the legend of the Third Degree is fiction.  Scripture does not record a murder during the building of the Temple.  Such an act would almost have to have been recorded, particularly the murder of one in so important a position as “Architect of the Work”.  Even if a murder had been committed and somehow gone unrecorded, the body would not – COULD not – have been reduced to ashes.  Cremation did not exist, and Jewish law specifically forbids it anyway.  Nor could the body have been buried “near the Sanctum Sanctorum”.  Jewish law required that cadavers be buried without the gates of the city, and the Temple was Hallowed Ground.

The point here is that it doesn’t matter if the Legend is based on fact or fiction.  It is allegory.  It’s basis doesn’t affect it’s validity in our Craft.