Immersive History took on the daunting task of recreating the Second Temple through virtual reality and pulled it off flawlessly. But no less spectacular than the results are the methods, which in themselves represent a spiritual watershed. For the first time ever, Christians used the Jewish oral tradition to further their Bible study.
Rico Cortes from Orlando, Florida, was invited to be a consultant by Immersive History, a company that is developing the app.
“We used all the known sources: mishna, talmud, Torah, tanakh (Bible), and archaeology. We connect it all together. Many people know one of these sources but no one has brought them all together.”
Temple aficionados will note that this integration of disciplines incorporates recent archaeological discoveries including the spectacular tile floor that was recently discovered by Dr. Gabriel Barkay’s Sifting Project last year.
One of the advantages of virtual reality as a tool for studying the Bible is that it is an immersive, fully explorable world, allowing you to engage with the Bible in unprecedented ways.
“The world needs to know the beauty of God’s house,” Cortes said. “This will be a powerful tool Without this, any Bible lessons are missing a big part of the first-century writings. The Prophets all referred to the Temple. Every Christian and Jew needs to know that the Temple was the garden of God.”
“We are always going to be updating to reconcile the app with archaeological discoveries. We want Jewish scholars, Christians, and archaeologists to all be able to agree on this.”
Cortes embodies this uniques integration of diverse spiritual realities. He traced his ancestry back to Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th and 16th Centuries. IA DNA test ten years ago revealed that he had the Cohen Modal Haplotype, or what is referred to as the Kohanic gene.
“I’ve always loved the Tabernacle since I was a kid but when my son became interested in it, I built a model of it.
Cortes emphasized that much of the credit for this amazing and massive work goes to Cortes’ teacher, Joseph Good, the founder of Hatikvah Ministries located in Nederland, TX. Joe has spent the last forty years learning the original texts and the last two decades learning and teaching Hebraic values and concepts, especially in the context of the non-Jew. He is an established teacher on the Temple and has an understanding of the original Jewish texts to a degree that is objectively impressive but is even more so considering that he is not Jewish and was not raised in the tradition. Few Jewish scholars have such a deep and complete understanding of the sources. His ministry’s website notes that their intentions are “teaching the good news of the Messiah and the coming redemption, revealing the Jewish roots of the faith, and, standing against antisemitism.”
“Joseph has spent 40 years selflessly learning,” Cortes said. “I wanted to emulate that. So I dedicated myself to making the tools to view the Temple available to the world.”
The Temple is no longer standing and the actual site is hidden underneath Muslim structures. It is highly restricted due to the possibility of Muslim violence should non-Muslims want to express religious feelings towards the site. This app reveals the glory of what once was but also, should the Third Temple be built, many sections of the Temple that can be viewed on the app will only be accessible to Kohanim (priests). Via this app, Jews from the ten tribes and non-Jews will be permitted a glimpse of the inner Temple.
Mordechai Persoff of the Mikdash Educational Institute is already using the app to teach Jewish Israeli students about their Temple.
“The sources are all either Biblical or Jewish classical sources,” Persoff noted. “You can go anywhere, walk from the City of David all the way into the Holy of Holies. You can compare how the sites looked now versus how they looked in Temple Times. People can experience standing on the Temple Mount and even play the instruments used in the Temple Service.”
Future projects will include virtual reality tours of the Temple service.