The Graham Manuscript

One of the oldest known Masonic Documents
Written about 1726 

Note:  This document actually consists of two small scraps of paper
in such poor condition it is easily to assume they were carried
from Lodge to Lodge for a very long time.  It is displayed here
in the original text, not translated.

 


Graham Manuscript

 ... we have it by tradition and still some referance to scripture cause shem ham and Japeth ffor to go to their father noahs grave for to try if they could find anything about him ffor to Lead them to the vertuable secret which this famieous preacher had for I hop all will allow that all things needfull for the new world was in the ark with noah Now these 3 men had allready agreed that if they did not ffind the verything it self that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret they not Doubting but did most ffirmly beLeive that God was able and would allso prove willing through their faith prayer and obediance for to cause what they did find for to prove as vertuable to them as if they had received the secret at first from God himself at its head spring so came to the Grave ffinding nothing save the dead body all most consumed away takeing a greip at a ffinger it came away so from Joynt to Joynt so to the wrest so to the Elbow so they RReared up the dead body and suported it setting ffoot to ffoot knee to knee Breast to breast cheek to cheek and hand to back and cryed out help o ffather as if they had said o father of heaven help us now for our Earthly ffather cannot so Laid down the dead body again and not knowing what to do—so one said here is yet marow in this bone and the second said but a dry bone and the third said it stinketh so they agreed ffor to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day so went to their undertakings and afterwards works stood:yet it is to be beleived and allso understood that the vertue did not proceed from what they ffound or how it was called but ffrom ffaith and prayer so thus it Contenued the will pass for the deed

[Graham Ms., 1726,  (upper and lower half).


Some explanatory comments:

          Ancient Jewish tradition says that Noah, knowing mankind was soon to be destroyed, but not knowing the manner in which the destruction was to come, created two tablets each of which contained all the secrets needed for man’s survival in the new world.  Of these tablets, one would survive if the world was destroyed by fire, the other if water should cause the devastation.

          The following is an extract from the Graham Manuscript of 1726 which came to light in 1936.  It was a part of the prevailing ritual of the18th century and is a question and answer text similar in form to our current ritual examination. This manuscript contains the very first recorded indication of the existence of the third degree as well as the five points of fellowship.  Oddly enough, the "raising" recorded here is not that of Hiram Abif... 

 

The following is a Translation of the Graham Manuscript to modern English:

          "We have it by tradition, and still some reference to scripture for it caused Shem, Ham and Japheth to go to their father Noah’s grave for to see if they could find anything about him to lead them to the valuable secret which this famous preacher had…  For I hope all will allow that all things needful for the new world was in the Ark with Noah.
          Now these 3 men had already agreed that if they did not find the very thing itself, that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret…  They not doubting, but did most firmly believe that God was able and would also prove willing, through their faith, prayer and obedience, to cause what they did find to prove as valuable to them as if they had received the secret at first from God Himself at its headspring.
          So [they] came to the grave, finding nothing save the dead body almost consumed away. Taking a grip at a finger, it came away…so from joint to joint…so to the wrist…so to the elbow…so they reared up the dead body…and supported it…setting foot to foot…knee to knee…breast to breast…cheek to cheek…and hand to back…and cried out ‘Help, Oh Father’…  As if they had said ‘Oh Father of Heaven, help us now, for our earthly father cannot’…  so laid down the dead body again and not knowing what to do…  so one said:  ‘Here is yet marrow in this bone’ and the second said:  ‘But a dry bone’ and the third said: ‘It stinketh’.   So they agreed to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day…so went to their undertakings, and afterwards works stood. "

           Many believe that the statement "marrow in this bone" eventually evolved into the three syllable substitute for the lost word.