Revelation in Mormonism
(University of Chicago, 1932)
R E V E L A T I O N
I N M O R M O N I S M
Its Character and Changing Forms
GEORGE BARTHOLOMEW ARBAUGH
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS
CHICAGO - ILLINOIS
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COPYRIGHT 1932 BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 1932.
COMPOSED AND PRINTED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, U.S.A.
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Much has been written attempting to disprove Mormonism's claims, but there has been little attempt at stating them or characterizing the religion. There is a wealth of information to be gleaned from such literature, but it is difficult to discover and more difficult to evaluate. Apart from specialized treatises there is only one scientific book on Mormonism, Lynn's The Story of the Mormons, and it is quite incomplete, out of date, and defective, presenting a maze of undigested facts. Mormonism is today laying great stress on its cosmic and anthropological philosophy, pressing doctrine on the basis of its own appeal, and passing quickly over the origin of the doctrine. To know Mormonism one must know the origin of its ideas and attitudes. In fact, such knowledge is itself a judgment, and the present tendency in Mormonism makes such knowledge essential. The fact that Mormonism is fantastic, interesting, and available for study as no other religion is, makes its study a pleasant task.
The work here presented owes its existence to a deep interest in this strange American phenomenon, going back to the time when its author lived next door to the old jail at Carthage, Illinois, where the restorer of the dispensation of the fulness of times, the prophet, seer, and revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, together with his brother Hyrum who held the patriarchal keys of the same politico-economic religious movement, ended an amazing life under a shower of enemy bullets. This work grew out of a more comprehensive study, aiming to trace the intricate development of Mormon doctrine. That development at times involved sudden and complete reversal, at other times rigid elaboration, coming finally to a total result undreamed of by those at the head of the movement and not really known today except to a few careful students. For these reasons Mormon doctrine calls for treatment. But this study of revelation invited separate and prior treatment
an invitation accepted for several reasons. The first is that it is a story which needs to be told. There is no presentation which even attempts to cover the ground. Much has been written about the Book of Mormon, but from the point of view of content other scriptures are more important. Nor has it been adequately treated. More and more it became apparent that an understanding of Mormonism is impossible without cognizance of the facts herewith presented and that accordingly they should be made accessible. Second, the development of this phase of the original study to such large proportions made it desirable to give it separate identity, including all relevant material. Third, the story of Mormon revelation is sufficiently inclusive to warrant separate treatment. It is to be noted that this work does not aim to give the history of Mormonism nor an analysis of its faith, but simply the story of the historical process by which that faith was given divine sanction. The content of revelation would perhaps be more interesting than the revelating process, but without knowledge of the latter the former is largely meaningless. Doctrine has been treated only when involved in revelation and then only sufficiently to make the process intelligible.
It is to be particularly noted that Mormon revelation is a process, with a beginning, a major development, and a conclusion. Its beginning is in the circumstantial origin of the Book of Mormon’s development is the amazing canonical scriptures other than the Book of Mormon, largely the work of Joseph Smith, and its epilogue is the even more surprising process of revelation carried on and at last largely abandoned by subsequent Mormonism. It might have been something else than an epilogue, but actually history made it that. This does not mean that revelation after Joseph Smith is less significant. It is not only more interesting than the first two developments but furnishes explanation and illustration for many factors in the original process. As to content, Mormon revelation is more comparable to a tree than to a drama, for it has branched out profusely and the choicest fruit is on the latest branches. Throughout Mormon history, revelation is an instrument used in accomplishing
ends, and when one realizes what that history has been it comes to have central importance. Mormonism is one of the most boldly innovating developments in the history of religions. Its social meaning is not that of a "church." Its aggressive, theocratic claims, political aspirations, and use of force make it akin to Islam, even if some similarities are superficial. 1
Many of the facts herewith presented would themselves be revelations to the average well-educated Mormon, who knows his religion more as philosophy of history than as history itself, and in writing such philosophy Mormon historians are carefully selective. A kindly gentleman who holds a position of trust in one of the churches of the Saints once expressed the hope that the facts which he assisted the author to procure would be correctly interpreted. The endeavor has been made to let facts interpret themselves, and where the author's viewpoint has been more involved, the positions advocated have certainly not been influenced by ill-will. Devotion of many fine-souled Mormons calls for sympathy and for a revealing of the true facts of their religion, together with a wish that such disillusionment were unnecessary.
In connection with the origin of the Book of Mormon, Charles Shook's The True Origin of the Book of Mormon not only reprints the source material more completely than given elsewhere but also contains some important material not previously (1912) printed. So for this matter, reference has been given chiefly to this book. References to books of the Book of Mormon may be identified by the analysis on pp. 23 f., below. References to the Book of Moses and Book of Abraham are to the texts as given in the Pearl of Great Price, and references to the Book of Commandments (B.C.), Doctrine and Covenants (D.C.), and other holy books may be understood by turning to
1 Similarities between Islam and Mormonism have been misunderstood and exaggerated, e.g., by Mrs. J. F. Willing, On American Soil; or, Mormonism the Mohammedanism of the West, esp. pp. 3-5. Eduard Meyer's analysis is more penetrating, particularly as relating to God as Almighty, to the resurrection, and to the universality of revelation (Ursprung und Geschichte der Mormonen , pp. 67-83). There are also basic differences, as the antithesis between Moslem quietism, based on the doctrine of (predestination) the absolute will of Allah, and Mormon rigorous moralism which is rooted in the doctrine that man will go to the heaven which he earns.
their treatment. The Utah 1920 (current) edition of the Book of Mormon and the Utah 1921 editions of the others (except B.C.) are used exclusively except where otherwise indicated. For simplicity the D.C. is cited rather than the B.C., except where the treatment demanded otherwise. For a critical statement of general sources see Linn's Preface.
Acknowledgments are due to many, particularly the New York Public Library, the Library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and the Emma Hale Memorial Library at Independence, Missouri (historical library of the Reorganized church). The author is deeply indebted to a number of influential Mormons without whose kind co-operation the progress of the investigation would have been seriously hampered, particularly Mr. S. A. Burgess of the department of history of the Reorganized church and Mr. J. F. Smith, Historian of the Utah church. Many others have rendered valuable assistance, among whom Professor Herbert Martin of the University of Iowa and Mr. M. M. Quaife of the Detroit Public Library deserve special mention. To my wife I owe much, especially for much painstaking stenographic work.
GEORGE B. ARBAUGHHARTFORD, WISCONSIN
001 I INTRODUCTION
009 II SIDNEY RIGDON AND THE NEW CHURCH
016 III ORIGIN OF THE NEW BIBLE
026 IV BEGINNING OF SMITH PROPHECY
031 V BRINGING FORTH THE BOOK OF MORMON
045 VI CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
059 VII PROPHETIC AND INDIVIDUALIST REVELATION
069 VIII BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE
086 IX BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS
102 X BOOK OF ABRAHAM
117 XI JOSEPH'S OTHER VENTURES WITH SCRIPTURES
122 XII SMITH'S FINAL POSITION
133 XIII INSPIRED FICTIONS
146 XIV REVELATIONS OF KING JAMES J. STRANG
159 XV REVELATIONS OF CHARLES B. THOMPSON
172 XVI MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SPIRIT IN UTAH
183 XVII ORACLES OF JOSEPH MORRIS
195 XVIII PROPHECY IN THE REORGANIZED CHURCH
206 XIX REVELATION AMONG THE HEDRICKITES
217 XX CONCLUSION
225 APPENDIX I PROBLEMS RELATING TO THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
227 APPENDIX II PERSONALITY OF JOSEPH SEDRICKITES
230 CHRONOLOGY OF SMITH'S REVELATIONS
112 FACSIMILES FROM THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM
169 TITLE-PAGE OF BLACK AND MIXED RACES
193 THE ROUNDS OF ETERNITY
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In the origin of Mormonism two fundamental influences can be traced. The first of these was an extreme mysticism. The great revival movement had been in full swing for some thirty years before Smith's first professed vision. There seems to have been no mysticism in Smith's own life, but mysticism made it possible for him to get a hearing. Communication with the supernatural world was supposedly a matter of daily experience. The Holy Ghost was to be seen manifesting itself in the speaking with tongues and in dances and jerks, and many told of their visions. It was this state of mind which made the revelations of the Mormon prophet seem plausible to those ignorant followers who were not bound to the movement by more immediate interests. Mormonism became a religion of revelation, because revelation was in demand.
The second factor was Calvinistic Biblicism which regarded the New Testament as a sort of appendage to the Old, and which deduced from both the solutions to all problems of modern life, whether legal, agricultural, scientific, or religious. The Bible was viewed from a quantitative and not a qualitative standpoint. As someone has remarked, America has been interested in only two acts -- the Acts of the Apostles and the acts of our ancestors; we must have elders just as in the New Testament and clothes just like our forefathers. Biblicism was carried to extremes at times. For example, the Mormons took Heb. 9:22 literally and upheld voluntary death as a means of atoning for sin. 1 Similar to this is Smith's use of Matt. 12:39. "When I was
1 C. W. Penrose (Blood Atonement as Taught by Leading Elders.... [Salt Lake City, 1884], esp. pp. 33-35 said: "I admit that the doctrine has been preached, that men have committed sins.... for which they could not get forgiveness short of shedding their blood; but I deny that the law has been enforced." He based his denial on this statement by Young: "The time has been... that if a man was found guilty of adultery he must have his blood shed, and that is near at hand." Brigham spoke of
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preaching in Philadelphia, a Quaker called out for a sign.... I told the congregation the man was an adulterer,... that any man who wanted a sign was an adulterous person." 2 These items are representative of a basic tendency. Frequently there were ulterior motives back of the insistence on the new doctrine, but that does not explain away the literalism. It merely accounts for its use. 1 The Reformed churches were biblio-centric and they had made American Christianity a "book religion." 4 In view of this Meyer pointed out that, "the basis of a new church, especially the true church of Christ," had to be a book, "fully as good as the Old and New Testaments, since that is the form in which God has given his doctrine since the time of Moses." 5 Regardless of whether a prospective church necessitated the new Bible or the Book of Mormon suggested a new church, the book did satisfy this need. Revelation in Mormonism first took the form of a new Bible because of this fundamental attitude.
The difficulty of converting the world to a new Bible had been anticipated in the book itself, 6 and this problem made it necessary to give the book a central place. For some time this was satisfactory, but as new desires, problems, and interests arose, which were provided for neither in the Bible nor in the Book of Mormon, some other divine authority had to be provided. One solution was to write other holy books and put the desired material in them. Having used a new Bible to justify ecclesiastical revolution) further innovations required more Bibles. But in writing new Bibles indefinitely there were difficulties, not the
"blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense for the Almighty," and Penrose admitted that Brigham would have instituted this "celestial law" had not the "laws of the land" interfered. There is evidence that lives w ere sacrificed. Cf. F. J. Cannon and Knapp), Brigham Young and His Mormon Empire (1913), pp. 261 ff.
2 E. F. Parry, Joseph Smith's Teachings (1921), p. 163.
3 Cf. below pp. 99 f., 154 f., and 191 ff. for literalism in baptism for the dead, animal sacrifice, and spiritual birth.
4 Cf. J. O. Evjen in What Is Lutheranism (ed. V. Ferm), pp. 18, 24.
5 Eduard Meyer, Ursprung u. Geschichte der Mormonen, p. 34, also pp. 28 ff.
6 "...the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible" (II Nephi 29:3)
least of which was finding satisfactory matter with which to pad them. Thus Smith decided to write several books of which nothing more than fragments ever materialized. 7 Even the Book of Moses is nothing more than several chapters of Genesis with numerous alterations and with the needed revelation inserted. Joseph scarcely knew whether to call it a distinct book or a revision of that part of the Bible. The Book of Abraham likewise incorporates part of Genesis. Revising the Bible to suit one's taste was in some respects easier than writing new scriptures; so this was resorted to. Even the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants were revised. But revising Bibles likewise had drawbacks, and in time Joseph confided that he was thinking of revising his revision of the Bible.
In fact, it was found necessary from the beginning to supplement the holy books with immediate revelations. The "revelations," associated with bringing forth the Book of Mormon, served as models for a long series which were printed as the Book of Commandments, and later with alterations and additions as the Doctrine and Covenants. But apparently there has been undue hesitancy about incorporating within it a sufficient number of revelations, for since the day of the prophet there has been insistence upon the primacy of immediate revelation even as opposed to this book of immediate revelations. Brigham Young declared: "When compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of the Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation." Smith immediately rose and said, "Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord and he had told you the truth." 8 More recently an apostle of the church declared: "Joseph Smith was a prophet; Brigham Young was a prophet; Wilford Woodruff is a prophet, and I know that he has a great many prophets around
7 See chap. xi. Like the Mormons, the Shakers established dogmas by new Bibles. Cf. Robert Baird, Religion in America (1886), pp. 570 ff., and E. H. Klotsche, Christian Symbolics (1929), p. 323.
8 This and the following appear in S. H. Goodwin's Mormonism and Masonry (1925), pp. 53-54.
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him, and can make scriptures as good as those in the Bible.” There was some ground for this, for the Lord revealed that whatever elders say "when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture." 9 There is no empirical way of ascertaining when the Spirit is thus operative but Smith gave this key:
A person may profit by noticing the first intimations of the Spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing unto you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon;.... and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus. 10
While revelation thus reverted from Biblicism toward mysticism, it became necessary to define sharply the sphere of mysticism. Generally it operated within the limits of scriptural rules and doctrines, but at times persons refused to be thus bound. During the founding of the church a Hiram Page claimed to be receiving revelations through a stone, and Joseph's authority was even threatened to the extent that his scribe and colaborer Oliver Cowdery was influenced. The danger was finally overcome when God revealed through Smith that Cowdery should tell Page "that Satan deceiveth him." 11 This problem threatened again and again.
While the twelve apostles, with Young at their head, were able to win the great majority of the Saints after Joseph's death, yet this was not without bitter opposition. Many claimed the prophetic mantle and produced revelations to establish their right. In some of the sects which came into existence, these grew into interesting books of revelations. In addition, Strang and Brewster translated ancient scriptures, and God revealed a book of law to Thompson. But writing revelations is a dangerous practice, and as bravado has decreased, new revelations are largely wanting. This lack has led to greater emphasis upon the older sacred books.
9 D.C. 68:4.
10 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of L.D.S., 1897-1904, II, 368.
11 D.C. 28:11.
In all, Mormonism has produced about thirty distinct holy books. It must not be thought that certain are orthodox and others heterodox. Such a distinction could be justified only by reference to the particular branch of Mormonism which one might accept as orthodox. All Mormon revelation is akin, interwoven in origin, purpose, doctrine, and usage. Of course, certain books are more characteristic of Mormonism and some -- as The Spirit Prevails -- are even more representative in that they contain elaboration of basic Mormon ideas instead of merely adding new elements to the superstructure. Yet all of Mormon revelation constitutes a true unity in diversity.
There are certain peculiar features which set off Mormon revelation from the scriptures of many of the great historic religions. One is the lack of lyric poetry. There are no psalms in Mormonism. 12 The hymns of the Rig-Veda became scripture because they acquired holiness. The quality of the psalms made them a part of the Bible. But in Mormonism literature is not canonized- instead, sacred books are deliberately written. Mormon scriptures were created with an end in view, and the very fact prevented the appearance in latter-day scriptures of some literary forms which marked the high points in religious life among other peoples. Mormon scriptures contain items of purported history, but, significantly, no philosophy, of history; they contain epistles, but even these have ulterior motives. Doctrine itself grows out of expediency and history. Mormon scriptures do present law in striking abundance, but here, too, important contrasts can be drawn. Law in Mormonism is not customary regulation given religious sanction but rather ambition given authoritative sanction. Some of these peculiarities will suggest likenesses to Islam, for there, too, revelation was a tool rather than an expression of religious aspiration.
12 Cf. below, p. 74, for one interesting exception. Of course, there are hymns, but not inspired.
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In the origin of Mormonism three factors were united: the origin of the church under the direction of Sidney Rigdon, his acquisition of the Book of Mormon, and his selection of Joseph Smith as prophet. Rigdon, the founder of Mormonism, was born and raised about nine miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As he grew to maturity he spent many idle hours there, particularly in the printing oftice of Patterson and Hopkins in company with J. H. Lambdin who worked there. The postmaster's daughter has told how they often came together to the post-office. "I particularly remember that they would come during the hour on Sabbath aftenioon when the office was required to be open, and I remember feeling sure that Rev. Patterson knew nothing of this, or he would have put a stop to it." 1 Rigdon seems to have had some connection with a tannery in the city. A very curious novel about the Indian was brought to the printing shop by a clergyman named Spaulding. Patterson seemed pleased with it, kept it some time, and finally offered to publish it if Spaulding would make out a title-page and preface. Spaulding moved to Amity, Pennsylvania, due to financial difficulties. When he returned with the title-page and preface he learned that the manuscript was gone and that Rigdon was suspected of taking it. 2 Not long after this Spaulding died, but told his physician that he suspected Rigdon of the theft, also that the title he had worked out was The Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon; or Unearthed Records of the Nephites. 3
At the time, Rigdon was twenty-three or twenty-four years
1 C. A. Shook, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon (1912), p. 118.
2 Ibid., p. 119. Statement of J. Miller, a neighbor.
3 Ibid., p. 120. Written by physician in his Book of Mormon. [note: the MS title Arbaugh cites from Shook came from a disreputable source]
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old. The story, which gave the religious history of the Indians, must have aroused his interest in religion. About a year later he joined the Baptist church, on May 31, 1817, and in two years was licensed to preach and then ordained. From 1822 to 1823 he served a church in Pittsburgh and, while there, showed the MS to one of his parishioners. He stated that he had borrowed it as a curiosity, that it had been written by "Spaulding, a Presbyterian preacher whose health had failed him and who had taken it to the printers to see if it would pay to publish it" 4 Obviously Rigdon had not yet planned to make an Indian Bible of it. Within a few months he was put out of the church for heresy and then joined the Campbellite group, probably through the influence of Adamson Bentley whose wife's sister he had married. He traveled far and wide promulgating the new doctrines, and it was apparently thus that he met Joseph Smith. Smith's mother wrote that shortly after the fall of 1824 "a mancommenced laboring in the neighborhood, to effect a union of the different churches; in order that all might be agreed." 5 This was the key doctrine and mission of the Campbellites, and since there were few of them at the time, it is easily possible that this man was Rigdon, made more plausible by the fact that within a couple of years: Smith and Rigdon were co-operating.
In 1823-24 Rigdon apparently conceived a practical use for his story. He was preaching a new religion, a restored primitive Christianity, so why not write it into a restored Bible? But to sponsor such a tremendous undertaking was too much for Rigdon, for though brilliant he was lacking in force of personality and bravado. In this difficulty he adopted Smith as a tool. But this venture required considerable literary work. Spaulding had certainly been no Campbellite, and Rigdon's sectarian passion necessitated incorporation in the story of the tenets which he was championing. The work was soon begun but not completed
4 Ibid., p. 120.
5 Lucy Smith, Joseph Smith and His Progenitors (1912), p. 101. Since she wrote that Joseph and the angel had been in communicntion for some time and that Alvin, who died November 19, 1824, was deeply interested in the "record," it may be thatRigdon and Smith met before. But more probably this is a pre-dated fiction glorifying Alvin who could not share the Smith family's fame.
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until almost four years later. Mrs. Rigdon's neice recorded that during her visit to the home in 1826 or 1827 Rigdon got a manuscript out of a locked trunk in his bedroom, sat down by the fireplace, and began reading it.
His wife at that moment came into the room and exclaimed: "What, you are studying that thing again? or something to that effect.... "I mean to burn that paper." He said: "No, indeed, you will not; this will be a great thing some day." Whenever he was reading this, he was so completely occupied that he seemed entirely unconscious of anything passing around him. 6
Rigdon became so wrapped up in the project that he foolishly mentioned it to various persons. He told Bentley and Campbell that "there was a book coming out" in New York, translated from "gold plates," telling how the Christian religion was preached to the Indians during the first century, just as they were preaching it "in the Western Reserve." 7 Apparently Rigdon hoped to convert his hearers, but about a year later broke with the Disciples when they rejected communism (on the basis of Acts) which he tried to force on them. He declared bitterly: "I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or Scott, and yet they get all the honor of it." 8 The significance became clear when he wrote a few years later that the Book of Mormon, "puked the Campbellites effectually; no emetic could have done so half as well." 9
As the work progressed Rigdon became enthusiastic and incautious. A parishioner said:
For a few months before his professed conversion to Mormonism. it was noticed that his wild, extravagant propensities had been more marked.... He gave a wonderful description of the mounds and other antiquities found in some parts of America... He said there was a book to be published containing an account of those things. He spoke of these in his eloquent, enthusiastic style, as being a thing most extraordinary.10__________
6 Shook, op. cit., p. 121.
7 Ibid., p. 122. Campbell dated this 1826, Bentley 1827.
8 Linn, The Story of the Mormons (1902), pp. 61f. Communism which his parishoners at Kirtland practiced was the origin of Mormonism's many communistic tendencies. Cf. also J. A. Geddes, The United Order among the Mormons (1922).
9 June, 1837 (Linn, op. cit., p. 62).
10 Cf. Shook, op. cit, p. 123. Statement of D. Atwater.
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About six months before becoming a Mormon, while riding in company with Dr. Rosa, he remarked that "mankind were all rife and ready" for a new religion, that it would soon appear, also that he was thinking of leaving [for] Pensylvania for some months. 11
In working out the organization and doctrine of the new church Rigdon emphasized the ideas with which he had been working, the Campbellite theology. Most of this was put in the Book of Mormon (treated in chap. vi ). One prominent idea which seems to have left no trace of in it, but which was carried into Mormonism, is opposition to creeds. Orson Pratt expressed the Mormon view when he said that any creed written "without the aid of immediate revelation" only stirs up contention. 12 Joseph Smith complained that creeds set up limiting "stakes," 13 but he admitted that he had "immediate revelation" and wrote the "articles of faith," printed on the back of the Mormon elder's calling card. But even today the tendency persists. In spite of having an elaborate creed, a revision of these articles and therefore no longer inspired, the Hedrickites breathe forth the spirit of Campbell. When one wrote, "Behold, the Lord has rejected all creeds," another answered in hot resentment, "Does the Church of Christ have any creeds?" 14
The Disciples' denunciation of denominationalism was perfectly adapted to Mormonism. The Campbells urged that all denominations should disappear in a return to primitive Christianity, but Rigdon could add that his church was not only like the New Testament church but that it was divinely authorized. These ideas were reflected in the Book of Mormon, for instance, in II Ne. 28:3 where it was prophesied that when the new Bible appears one church will say to another, "Behold, I, I am the Lord's," and "they shall contend one with another." 15
11 Ibid., pp. 123 f. 12 Linn, op. cit., p. 64.
13 E. F. Parry, Joseph Smith's Teachings, p. 26.
14 Zion's Advocate, VII (April 1, 1930), 68.
15 D. S. Margoliouth has noted that in origin Mormonism is like Islam in being influenced by rivalries between sects. But he was wrong in assuming the authenticity of Smith's account of asking God which church was right (Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, 3d ed., p. 76). Cf. below, Appendix II.
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Campbellite theology appeared even in the name of the new church. The Campbellites generously appropriated the name "Christians," but later relinquished it to an associated sect, choosing the name "Disciples of Christ." This was claimed to be more ancient, descriptive, and scriptural. One inclined to overlook this point should examine the tedious defenses of the name. Perhaps no other matter received quite so much emphasis. This had, if not a biblical origin, at least a biblical support in the idea that the name is vital. 16 Accordingly, Rigdon makes the Indians ask Christ how they shall call the church, "for there are disputations... concerning this matter." He answers: "whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the Church in my name." 17 In conformance with this the Mormon church was organized as the Church of Christ. 18 Four years later, again at the direction of Rigdon, the church changed its name to Church of the Latter-Day Saints, 19 thus adding another element of Campbellite theology, that of the approaching millennium, as well as "Saints" from the Perfectionist movement which had been especially active the two preceding years. 20 After all their insistence on using the name of Christ, the Mormons became so obsessed with the idea of being the saints of the pre-millennial days, that they forgot to include the name of Christ in their title. Under this title the Doctrine and Covenants was issued, and congregations were directed to observe the change. But the defect was so obvious that in 1838 the Lord commanded that the church be known as "The Church of Jesus
16 Eccles. 6:10 shows how human achievement is restricted by the name "man," a sort of formula. Names often signified ideas. Thus new experience or theory meant new names: Jacob to Israel ("kept by God" referring to the chosen people), Abram to Abraham ("father of a multitude"), Cephas to Peter ("rock), James and John surnamed Boanerges ("sons of thunder"). Cf. pp. 19-28 of J. F. Burnett's The Origin and Principles of the Christians (Dayton, Ohio: Christian Publishing Association, 1921).
17 III Ne. 27:3.
18 See D.C. 20:1. "Chrisr" is not a name but a title, "anointed one." "Jesus" mistakenly refers to "the name of Christ, which is my name" (III Ne. 27:5).
19 Rigdon made the motion. Cf. conference minutes in Evening and Morning Star of July [sic - May], 1834, or passage on pages 26 f. of Changing of the Revelations (1927) by D. Macgregor (Hedrickite).
20 W. H. Dixon, Spiritual Wives (I-vol. ed.; 1868), p. 237.
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Christ of Latter-Day Saints." 21 Still again did Rigdon change the name of the church when, after his expulsion by the Mormons, he named his faction the "Church of Christ." In this he was not concerned about the merit of the name but used this to express his claim that his church was the true one from which the Latter-Day Saints had departed into error. Other factions made similar changes and claims. It is indeed difficult to reconcile the original insistence on the changeless of God 22 with his repeatedly changing the name of the church, still another time -- as some believe -- to "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."
These points of external identity between Mormonism and Discipleism are rooted in a deeper identity. Mormonism is an elaboration of the central proposition of the Disciples, the identity of the church and the kingdom of God. Protestantism rebelled against the demand of obedience to the authorized voice of the church, and few thoughtful Protestants have seriously believed that Jesus aimed to establish a church. Even though often confusing the two, they have generally regarded them as distinct, the one governed by the love of God, the other by human needs. But the Campbellites maintained that the church is a divine institution and that it must therefore be undivided. "In theory they do not claim to be the church of Christ, but simply desire to be Christians only and their churches to be only churches of Christ." 23 The entire system, with its stressing of biblical polity, name of the church, form of baptism, and the ancient gospel, was based on this and on a legalism growing out of it. As soon as the church is regarded as divine, so soon will emphasis change to correct forms and authority. Mormonism completed this by adding the restored priesthood to the restored gospel. Thus it became the antithesis
21 D.C. 115:4.
22 Sec. 3, vs. 15, of Rigdon's Lectures on Faith reads: "Thirdly, that he changes not, neither is there variableness with him.... and that his course is one eternal round, without variation." Reiterated in D.C. 3:2 and Book of Moses 1:3. Cf. below, p. 89, on lectures and p. 135 on Rigdon and name of the church.
23 E. H. Klotsche, Christian Symbolics (1929), p. 347.
SIDNEY RIGDON AND THE NEW CHURCH 15
of spiritual Protestantism -- the complete institutionalizing of religion. Bohmer showed that the essence of Catholicism is its identification of the kingdom of God with the church of Rome. 24 But Rigdon outdid Rome. He started a church which so institutionalized religion that its gospel is law, its life a priesthood, its salvation obtained by doing good for God, by even helping Him, that men obtain glory by begetting children eternally, that even the dead must be baptized to be saved, and that its outward manifestation is in the form of big business. It is no wonder that whereas Mormonism first expressed bitter hatred for Catholicism it later acknowledged it to be least incorrect of all churches. Assuming that some church must be "divine" Mormonism tries to force people to this question: "How am I to determine which of all the Christian churches is divine?" 25 Recognizing their similarity, Mormonism and Discipleism clash. Traum, Shook, and others wrote and debated against Mormonism. In reply, J. F. McDowell of the Reorganized church pointed out Campbellite defects -- the lack of a priesthood, that the church is dated from Pentecost instead of from Adam, etc. 26
24 der junge Luther (1925), p. 251.
25 Nephi Jensen in Loahona The Elders' Journal (Independence, Missouri, October 14, 1930). p. 199.
26 Discipleism, p. 12. Cf. below, pp. 54 f. and 103 f/, for further treatment of Campbellite influence.
[ 16 ]
The new church would probably have come into being without the Book of Mormon, but by its violent break with tradition and by instituting prophecy, this book led to the formation of a new religion, far more independent of the mother-religion in many respects than Islam is from its Jewish-Christian background. Its author, Solomon Spaulding, was born in Ashford, Connecticut, in 1761, graduated from Dartmouth, studied theology, and became a Congregational minister. Losing his faith, 1 he quit preaching and engaged in other enterprises. While living in Conneaut (New Salem), Ohio, his imagination was aroused by nearby mounds. His daughter said: "I vividly remember how excited he became when he heard that they had exhumed some human bones, portions of gigantic skeletons, and various relics."2 About 1812 he began writing "Manuscript Story -- Conneaut Creek."
The story claims to have been written by Fabius, secretary to the emperor Constantine. Sailing for England he and his companions were driven by a great storm to America where they were hospitably received by the Indians. The life and travels of the little group and tedious accounts of the religion, culture, and wars of the natives are given. The Ohons (citizens of Ohio) and the Kentucks, separated by the Ohio River, engaged in devastating war in which the "King of Michegan" took part. The natives danced, played cards which were "placed in a pack & dealt." A man proclaimed his desire to marry "by wearing a red feather in his cap." A hymn's "last stanzy" reads:
The moon shines forth for our delight.
The stars extol our heroes prais
And warriors flee before our sight.
1 This and uncertain morals appear in the "Manuscript Story."
2 Shook, True Origin of the Book of Mormon, p. 89.
ORIGIN OF THE NEW BIBLE 17
Delawan to chakee poloo
Manegengo forwah toloo
Chanepant, lawango chapah
Quinebogan hamboo gowah.
Spaulding never finished the story. His neighbors told how he cast it aside for a new story in which he went farther back with dates and wrote in the "scripture style" to make it appear more ancient.3 This story, "The Manuscript Found," had very little in common with the first. The Latinized style is replaced by the King James biblical English, and instead of merely describing the culture of the Indians it tells their origin. For names Spaulding did not corrupt English and Indian names as before but, as part of the biblicizing scheme, sought out peculiar names from the Bible. 4 Nevertheless, there are striking similarities between the stories. The first was found in a "mound of Earth," under a stone which was raised with "a leaver." In the cave which the stone covered was "an earthen Box." The account taken from the Manuscript Found by Rigdon and Smith is that the book was found in a hill, under a stone which was raised by "a lever," and lying in a "box." In both stories a terrible storm arose as the immigrants crossed the ocean, the sailors lost their directions, became frightened, prayed to be saved from drowning, after which the storm abated. Although horses had died out long before, both stories make the Indians use them. The Manuscript Story tells of mammouths, larger than elephants, which were also called "mammoons." Ether 9:19 speaks of "elephants and cureloms and cummons." The transition was: mammouth, mammoon, cumom, curelom. Both manuscripts falsely credit the Indians with use of iron and with worshipping a Great Spirit. 5 Seer stones (cf. p. 38), high priests, and the idea of the earth's revolution about the sun appear in both. Common to both are writing in "characters," communism,
3 Ibid., p. 75. Cf. also p. 74. From Howe's statement.
4 Cf. below, p. 47. Onidah (Oneida) is an exception (Alma 32:4).
5 In place of "worship of the Great Spirit" only "worship of mythic animals and nature-gods" actually existed (First Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, p. 69).
18 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
sacred records kept separate, and forts of earth with timbers on top. 6
Spaulding read the story to his neighbors with pride and believed its publication would pay his debts and establish him financially. To find a publisher, he went to Pittsburgh where, as already recounted, he was encouraged by Patterson. 7 The manuscript was stolen and he died soon afterward. When the Book of Mormon appeared his friends declared that the two works were the same except that religious matter had been added, particularly scripture passages. 8 The Manuscript Found, they said, told how certain Jews left Jerusalem to escape the judgments to be visited upon it (captivity), and journeyed by land and sea to America, under the command of Nephi and Lehi. There they separated into two nations, Nephites and Lamanites, who fought cruel and bloody wars. Spaulding's brother John wrote that the two stories had nearly the same "historical matter" and names, and that nearly every sentence in the Manuscript Found began "And it came to pass" as in the Book of Mormon. 9 Henry Lake, business partner of Spaulding, stated: "One time, when he was reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct, but by referring to the 'Book of Mormon,' I find that it stands there just as he read it...." 10 The reference seems to be to I Ne. 3:31 where Laman and Lemuel do not trust an angel. Joseph Miller, "a man of standing" of Amity, Pennsylvania, stated that when he heard read the account of the battle of the Amlicites, in which the soldiers placed red marks on their foreheads to distinguish them from their
6 Cf. The "Manuscript Story" (ed. Reorganized Church), pp. 66, 30, 41 f., 21, 43, 80; and Mos. 26:7; Hel. 12:15; Morm. 9:32; IV Ne. 3; I Ne. 9:2ff.; Alma 50:2.
7 His wife's statement that he refused to make out the title-page and preface is unlikely (Linn, The Story of the Mormons, p. 52).
8 Meyer, Ursprung u. Gesch. der Mormonen, p. 49 [sic - 29], said that if the Spaulding story was not religious the Book of Mormon could not have been based on it, for it is "nothing but religion." But these people did not say Spaulding's story was not religious. In fact, every point they mention is religious in some sense.
9 Shook, op. cit., p. 96. Cf. p. 100 and Linn, op. cit., p. 54.
10 Linn, op. cit., p. 54.
ORIGIN OF THE NEW BIBLE 19
enemies, it seemed to reproduce the very words he had read in Spaulding's manuscript. 11 Eleven people gave written statements relating to one or more of these various points of identity.
About four years after the Book of Mormon was printed, an ex-Mormon named Hurlbut secured a manuscript from Spaulding's widow and gave it to E. D. Howe who was writing Mormonism Unveiled. It has been thought and is not impossible that he also found a secondary copy of the Manuscript Found and sold it to the Mormons. His statement suggests that he knew what they would give and that he was not above such an act: "Why if it had been the real one, I could have sold it for $3000; but I just gave it to Howe because it was of no account." When interviewed he was nervous, seemed to know more than he would divulge, and was urged by his wife to tell what he knew. The manuscript he gave to Howe was the Manuscript Story. Spaulding's old neighbors recognized it as having been written by him but said, as Howe wrote at the time, "that it bears no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'" 12 The man who bought Howe's printing plant later found it while searching through his effects, brought it from the Sandwich Islands, where he had moved, to the library of Oberlin College. Both large Mormon churches have published careful copies of it.
This was heralded as a great discovery by the Mormons. It was not new, having been reviewed by Howe many years before, but in the excitement of rediscovery even many non-Mormons accepted the claim that this was the Manuscript Found. Riley, Meyer, and others, particularly the Mormons, have denied that Spaulding wrote a second story, on the ground that the testimony concerning it was given some years after the witnesses had read the story and that they may therefore have imagined the similarities. 13 Had this actually occurred we would expect to
11 Ibid., p. 55; Alma 2-3,
12 Cf. ibid., pp. 58, 57.
13 Howe wrote, "We might therefore introduce a great number of witnesses all testifying to the same general facts; but we have not taken the trouble to procure the statements of but few, all of whom are the most respectable men..." (Shook, op. cit., p. 112). Subsequent evidence supported this (ibid., p. 113).
20 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
find mentioned those similarities which do exist between the earlier story and the Book of Mormon -- that it dealt with the Indians, their wars, and culture. But all the similarities listed are specifically not those which could characterize the early story, but which could be remembered only from the second. "And it came to pass," a biblical phrase which does not once appear in the first novel, occurred so often in the Manuscript Found "that some called him (Spaulding) 'Old Come-to-pass.'" When the Book of Mormon was read in public at Conneaut, old Esquire Wright heard it and exclaimed, "'Old Come-to-pass' has come to life again."14 A feature so common as to give rise to a nickname should be regarded as "imagined" only upon strong evidence, of which there is none. This applies equally well to other characteristics of the Manuscript Found which these people gave: the narrative, incidents, names, biblical phraseology, and the decision to discard the first story and write a new one. The Manuscript Story could not have been the romance which Spaulding sought to publish, for it was unfinished, broken off in the middle of the plot.
Mr. Rice, who rediscovered the Manuscript Story, wrote: "It is unlikely that any one who wrote so elaborate a work as the Mormon Bible, would spend his time in getting up so shallow a story as this."15 But this reverses the historical sequence; the Manuscript Story was a preliminary attempt. A far less excusable argument is that of Meyer, "that the Book of Mormon cannot possibly have been written by a man of Rigdon's (or Spaulding's) education, but of a cultural level far beneath him."16 Actually, although Spaulding was well schooled, his first novel is much inferior to the Book of Mormon. Had Meyer known the books better, he could not have thought this. The reverse of his statement is true. Smith was quite incapable of writing the Book of Mormon. All that he and Rigdon together could do was to insert their own ideas into it, and they muddled it pretty badly doing that.
14 Cf. Linn, op. cit., p. 55.
15 The "Manuscript Story," p. 8.
16 Meyer, op. cit., p. 48.
ORIGIN OF THE NEW BIBLE 21
EDITING OF THE BOOK OF MORMONHow much of the Book of Mormon is the work of Spaulding? The problem cannot be solved to entire satisfaction, but there are several rules of analysis which, though limited, are positive: (1) All Disciple theology is by Rigdon. (2) Passages prophetic of Mormonism are by Rigdon, or in a few cases by Smith. (3) Historical passages are by Spaulding. (4) Passages in which "It came to pass" occurs frequently are by Spaulding. (5) Lengthy theological discussions are by Rigdon unless they are integral parts of the narrative. (6) Reflections of the anti-Masonic excitement are by Rigdon, or in a few instances possibly by Smith, since Rigdon got the novel in 1826, several years before this occurred. (7) Long quotations from the Bible were added by Rigdon.
Chapters 10-16 of I Nephi were thought by Riley to be visions of the Smith family. This deserves careful treatment because of its importance concerning Smith's personality and the authorship of the Book of Mormon. Lucy Smith, the prophet's mother, tried to make the whole family appear peculiarly blessed in her Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, published in 1853 in Liverpool. In doing so she recounted seven visions which she claimed her husband had received. 17 The first, dated about 1811, is undeniably related to Lehi's vision in I Ne. 8.
17 Cf. I.W. Riley, The Founder of Mormonism, a Psychological Study of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1902), pp. 26-29, 114-17.
22 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
There is evidence which shows that Smith's vision was fabricated by Lucy on the pattern of Lehi's. The two small children in Smith's vision have no possible meaning but the two sons in Lehi's vision are there of necessity. Their rebellion and sin is fundamental in the Nephite story and had to be pictured by their refusal to come to the tree of life. Lucy changes the reason for adsence from sin to immaturity and instead of leaving them unsaved happily brings her whole brood to the tree. Second, the use of Babylon is due to later Mormon influence. The doctrine of Catholic apostasy and the use of these passages from Revelation condemning "Babylon" became popular after 1820 rather than before 1811. Through Rigdon it crept into the Book of Mormon, and, after had Mormon usage, was naturally inserted by Lucy for sake of invective. Third, Mormon wording appears in use of "Saints" in place of those who eat of the fruit. In 1834 "Saints" was inserted in the name of the church, borrowed from the Perfectionist movement. This came to be used by Mormons as their peculiar designation. It was natural for Lucy to use it when she wrote this vision, but it would have been strange indeed for her husband to have used it twenty years before the founding of the church. A fourth evidence is that the whole last part, condemnatory of those who oppose the saints, could scarcely have been a part of the supposed vision. The opening quarter of the century was marked by interdenominational friendship and unity. This damning of enemies is not a fruit of that time but of the later sectarian age which gave birth to Discipleism, Mormonism, and a hundred other "isms," and of the subsequent bitter opposition between Mormons and "Gentiles."
There is then no basis for Riley's assumption that these are Smith visions and that the Book of Mormon is "nothing but a thinly veiled autobiography." 18 Their intimacy point to Rigdon or Spaulding as author and their being so integral a part of the narrative makes Spaulding the more probable. It is clear that Smith did meddle with the manuscript in places, 19 but this does
18 Ibid., p. 113.
19 In connection with Parchment of John. Cf. below, p. 66.
ORIGIN OF THE NEW BIBLE 23
not appear to have been at all extensive. Chapters 20-22 of I Nephi, containing Isaiah, chapters 48-49, and prophecies of the rise of Mormonism are the work of Rigdon. The rest of the book seems to be largely by Spaulding.
II Nephi is almost entirely by Rigdon, with a few elements by Spaulding. It gives prophecies of Christ, of democratic America, of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in a day of Masonic abominations, and Isaiah, chapters 2-14, 19, are inserted as predictions of Mormonism. Jacob is largely by Rigdon, containing a lengthy discussion of Jews and Gentiles which is based on Rom. 11:16-24. Three of the next four books, all very short, are apparently by Spaulding. Enos, son of Jacob of the preceding book, continues the record in his generation, and his son Jarom and grandson Omni likewise write books which are known by their names. The next, "The Words of Mormon," has been thought to be the first book of the Manuscript Found, but this is incorrect. It contains Mormon's account of his abridgement of the whole Book of Mormon shortly before it was buried, and was written by Rigdon to explain that there was another set of plates containing the same material up to this point. During the process of translation this opening part was stolen, and by inserting this book Rigdon explained how he could produce an account similar to what was stolen and yet not identical with it (cf. below, pp. 39 f.).
Mosiah and Alma, almost half of the entire work, are to all appearances little changed. The sinlessness of little children was inserted in Mos. 3, and it is likely that there was some other editing, e.g., in inserting passages from Exodus and Isaiah in Mos. 12-14. In Alma anti-Masonic ideas appear in chapter 37, and the passages on the priesthood in chapter 13 are probably insertions. Editing comes out prominently again with Helaman. In most of its chapters a large amount of anti-Masonic material was added. There may have been other changes but the basis of the book seems to be by Spaulding.
It is possible but doubtful that the Manuscript Found made Christ appear to the Nephites. In either case, most of III Nephi, which relates this, was written by Rigdon. Even in the
24 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
first seven chapters, which seem to be from the Manuscript Found, there is a considerable amount of editing. In the subsequent chapters there is so much clearly from Rigdon that it is unlikely that Spaulding wrote any of it.
IV Nephi and The Book of Mormon give the late narrative of the Manuscript Found. They contain a little anti-Masonic alteration but are practically unchanged except for the conclusion which Rigdon tacked on. Mormon apparently ended with 8:13, "Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi." The chapter and a half which Rigdon added blesses him who shall dig the records up "out of the earth," and warns those who oppose, telling them that "if there be faults [in the book] they be faults of a man." After arguing heatedly against anti-Mormons, Rigdon realized that he had been incautious in prophesying in such detail so said: "I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But.... Christ hath shown you unto me."
Some have thought that Ether, which contains the story of the ancient Jaredites, was an earlier novel by Spaulding, but the way it is interwoven with the account in Mosiah makes this unlikely. All but chapters 1, 2, 3, and 15 have alterations and 4, 5, and 13 are entirely, or in great part, additions. It was probably the last book in the Manuscript Found. Moroni (Rigdon) wrote that he "had supposed not to have written any more" but added the Book of Moroni since its instructions "may be of worth.... in some future day." It gives directions for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, ordination of priests, administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and rules of discipline. A discpurse on "faith, hope, and charity" appears, which though it cannot honestly have known Paul, contains I Cor. 13:4-13 in slightly condensed form. In D.C. 18:19 this is boiled down to what might be called the verse of love, "And if you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can do nothing."
Since those who were acquainted with the Manuscript Found stated that its content was essentially historical and that the religious portions of the Book of Mormon had been added, it
ORIGIN OF THE NEW BIBLE 25
is likely that much of the reasoning and sermonizing with which the book is filled is likewise from Rigdon, but the extent of this is uncertain. We know that about a third of the book was added in the process of editing and this may be true of another third or even more. Shook estimated that the narrative, with Rigdon's "overdress" removed. would not be more than one-eighth of the Book of Mormon, but Rigdon may not be responsible for so much, since Spaulding's widow stated that the Manuscript Found was about a third as large as the Book of Mormon. 20
20 Shook, op. cit., pp. 170 f. Cf. Appendix I.
[ 26 ]
Joseph Smith, who played the central part in giving the Book of Mormon to a credulous public, was born at Sharon, Vermont, December 23, 1805. Due to poverty the family moved to Palmyra, New York, where the Smiths became known as shiftless, scheming people. The mother was deceptive and rather clever. Her father had tried to make a living in his old age by selling a little autobiography in which he attempted to make a common-place life appear interesting. At Palmyra the Smiths sold such things as gingerbread, pies, boiled eggs, and root beer and did odd jobs or went hunting and fishing when that failed. Later they took possession of a piece of land a few miles from there, the owners living elsewhere.
The elder Smith has been accused of being a "hunter for Captain Kidd's treasure" back in Vermont and of being implicated in counterfeiting. Also he claimed to be able to locate underground streams, as well sites, by means of a hazel switch. The boy Joseph seems to have been the most adept at living by his wits, and was regarded as the "genus of the family." He had a fertile imagination and could utter the most "marvellous absurdity with the utmost gravity." 1 Not long after 1818 he was working in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and there picked up the "seer stone" idea. A man named Belcher bought a green "seeing stone," and when his boy looked in it he claimed to see where his lost hatchet was. Neighbors came to have the boy locate lost objects, and when Smith saw its possibilities he bought the stone. With it he hunted for buried treasure, but when those with him broke the rule of silence, "the enchantment
1 Cf. Linn, The Story of the Mormons, pp. 8 ff., and I. W. Riley, The Founder of Mormonism, pp. 11 ff.
BEGINNING OF SMITH PROPHECY 27
removed the deposits." 2 In 1822 he learned from an Indian than that there was buried treasure at this same place, so induced a man named Harper to pay for the search. Under Joseph's direction fourteen men dug a great hole on the farm of Joseph McKune, which fifty years later was used as a swimming pool. To stop the removal of the treasure by enchantment a white dog was to be sacrificed. When none could be found, a white sheep was used, and when the treasure still eluded the diggers, Smith declared that God was displeased on account of the change. It seems that he superintended many similar diggings. 3
Back at home in 1822 Joseph and his brother were helping Willard Chase dig a well. Chase found a peculiar stone. Joseph it put it in his hat, and then his face into the top of the hat." The next day he returned and borrowed the stone, claiming that he could see things in it. He then "made so much disturbance among the credulous" that Chase ordered him to return it. After two years he did finally take it back, only to procure it again through his brother Hyrum, after which Chase never saw it. 4 With the stone Joseph would locate fabulous sums of buried money as well as treasure in the form of bars, images, and candlesticks. Frequently he was called on to locate lost articles. Treasure was usually hunted at midnight, especially at time of full moon. Good Friday was the luckiest date. In silence the men would dig, Smith directing with a wand. There was always a ready explanation of failure, usually that someone had broken the silence or that the devil had moved the treasure. Once a black sheep was sacrificed to the evil spirit guarding the treasure, and when this too failed, the Smiths went home and ate the sheep. 5
2 Cf. I. W. Riley, op. cit., pp. 187 f. Joseph's father once told that when the boy was about fourteen he had seen a seer stone and by looking in it located the one he later used. It may be that he had thus previously met with this practice. Cf. Linn, op. cit., pp. 19 f.
3 Linn, op. cit., pp. 18 f., and C. R. Marks, "Monona County Mormons," Proceedings Academy Science and Letters of Sioux City, Iowa, I, 85 ff.
4 Cf. Chase's affidavit in Linn, op. cit., p. 20.
5 Ibid., p. 21. Cf. also affidavits in Shook, True Origin of the Book of Mormon.
28 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
Joseph's fame so spread that he was hired by Josiah Stowell of Chenango County, New York, to dig for money. His father and others were employed with him. About five months later Stowell had him arrested as an impostor. At the trial, March 26, 1826) he said that he did locate gold mines and hidden treasure, as well as lost property, by looking in his stone, that he had done this for three years but never solicited business and had of late pretty much given it up because it made his eyes sore. He was held guilty. Later, Smith claimed that he had persuaded Stowell to give up digging for the "silver mine," admitted that he was tried as a disorderly person, but declared that he had been acquitted. 6 At the trial he showed his seer stone. "It was about the size of a small hen's egg, in the shape of a high instepped shoe. It was composed of layers of different colors passing diagonally through it." This was clearly not the Belcher stone; it must have been the Chase stone, since it resembled "a child's foot in shape" and was opaque. 7
At this stage Rigdon enters the story to convert these random supernatural activities into a precise prophetic role. How Smith happened to be chosen cannot be known, but a rule formulated by Bernard Shaw applies here: "The saints and prophets, though they may be accidentally in this or that official position or rank, are always self-selected, like Joan." 8 Rigdon wanted a tool, but even a figurehead prophet must be a figure of power. In Smith's account of his conversion his personality is hidden under a veil of modest reticence. Only a thorough study of his short and violent life reveals his character. His life was not one of circumstance. Rather he was the author of the amazing circumstances of which his life consisted, even though he often erred in judgment. He was dynamic, self-confident, ambitious, and had a striking personality. Josiah Quincy,
6 The court record is quoted on page 1576 of Schaff-Herzog, Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Cf. J. Smith and H. C. Smith, History of the Church, I, 17, and S. W. Traum, Mormonism Against Itself (1910), p. 43.
7 Cf. Riley, op. cit., pp. 188 f.; and Linn, op. cit., p. 21.
8 Saint Joan, Preface, "The Law of Change Is the Law of God."
BEGINNING OF SMITH PROPHECY 29
a keen observer, compared him to Elisha R. Potter and wrote: "Of all the men I have met, these two seemed best endowed with that kingly faculty which directs, as if by intrinsic right, the feeble or confused souls who are looking for guidance." 9 Joseph had already achieved prestige as a seer, had proved himself fit to be a prophet, and his ignorance made him appear a pliable tool. But the very characteristics which led to his selection made him rebel against Rigdon's rule.
Rigdon tried to safeguard his position. While he made Smith prophet, he formed the office of spokesman for himself. Smith was to receive revelation, Rigdon was to lead the church. The following statement made by Rigdon in old age shows what he hoped to be as spokesman: "For the existence of that church there had to be a revelator, one who received the word of the Lord; a spokesman, one inspired of God to expound all revelation, so that the church might all be of one faith." 10 A striking parallel is in the German Pietist (Mucker) movement of which Schonherr was to be prophet and Ebel witness 11 To make the matter sure, Rigdon prophesied his work as spokesman in II Ne. 3:18. This division of labor was suggested by that of Moses and Aaron, and Smith is promised as "a Moses" in this same passage. In Mormon history this comparison of Smith and Moses occurs repeatedly. Once Joseph said: "Moses was a stammering sort of boy like me.... God said (to him). 'Thou shalt be a God unto Aaron, and he shall be thy spokesman.'" [HC 6:478] Smith was no stammerer, but by office he was a Moses, slow of speech, while Rigdon was an oratorical Aaron. 12 For a year or so after the founding of the church, this division of office was acceptable
9 Figures of the Past (3rd ed.; 1883), p. 381.
10 Linn, op. cit., p. 320. 11 W. H. Dixon, Soiritual Wives, p. 93.
12 Cf. E. F. Parry, Joseph Smith's Teachings, p. 61, and Exod. 4:16. Another development of Exod. 4:10 appears in E. Fleg, The Life of Moses, p. 13. Baalam, thinking that the clever baby Moses would not burn himself, evilly proposed that if he reached for a burning coal he should live, if for gold, he should die. To save his life the angel Gabriel made him put a lighted coal to his mouth. "Wherefore, say our Rabbis, he was slow of speech." Cf. below, p. 73.
30 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
God confirmed it in further revelation. But Rigdon had failed to reckon with his prophet. Joseph got in the habit of announcing from the pulpit: "The truth is good enough without dressing it up, but brother Rigdon will now proceed to dress it up." 13
13 Cf. D.C. 100:11, 124:104; Linn, op. cit., p. 153.
[ 31 ]
When the Rigdon-Smith partnership was effected cannot be definitely settled but it was probably shortly after November, 1824, when Lucy Smith reports a preacher of Rigdon's theological make-up to have been in their neighborhood. 1 But at that time Rigdon had only begun to convert the Manuscript Found into a Bible. This meant a long period of expectant inactivity for Smith, during which he used his power over credulous people in such questionable ways as to nearly lose his job as prophet. In November, 1825, when he and his father were working for Stowell, digging for money, Joseph fell in love with the daughter of Isaac Hale with whom they boarded. Hale forbade marriage because of Joseph's contemptible occupation. About a year later, having returned home, he decided to woo Emma Hale again. He told Samuel Lawrence that if he would take him to her home he would let him share the profits of a rich silver mine he had discovered. When they had arrived in the East no mine could be found. Taking advantage of Hale's absence Joseph eloped with Emma. To get to his parents' home he told a man that he had found a bar of gold as big as his leg and 3 or 4 feet long in a cave and that in return for transportation to Palmyra he would share it. When they got there in January, 1827, Smith refused to go for the gold because of leaving his wife among strangers. 2
It seems that by 1826 plans were being made for Mormonism. A brother of Martin Harris wrote: "Joseph Smith, Jr., Martin Harris and others, used to meet together in private, a while before the gold plates were found, and were familiarly known by
1 Cf. above, p. 10. Linn, The Story of the Mormons, p. 22, suggested that they may have met when Smith was "gazing" in Pennsylvania, but it is not known that they were ever in the same region.
2 Shook, True Origin of the Book of Mormon, pp. 25 f.
32 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
the name of the 'Gold Bible Company.'" 3 Exhaustive study convinced Shook that this group was larger than ordinarily thought and that each had his part to play. "Rigdon was the theologian, Smith the prophet, Cowdery the scribe, Harris the financier.... The underlying motives were two: first, to make money out of the fraud, and secondly, to gratify lust." 4 Perhaps many others, as the Smiths and Pratts, were involved. The conversions of many of these people were too hasty and unnatural to be genuine. A couple of months after Smith returned with his wife, he was away from home a whole day and when he came to the house reported that he had received a terrible chastisement. The father became angry, thinking it to have been received from the neighbors, but Joseph told him that it was the angel of the Lord and that the rebuke was for failing to be sufficiently engaged in the work of God. 5 The angel was, of course, Rigdon. Smith's marriage and escapades must have caused Rigdon some anxiety and he came to stabilize matters.
Again about the middle of March, 1827, Rigdon was with Smith, making plans. Seeing a better-dressed man, Lorenzo Saunders asked who be was. Harrison Smith replied that it was Sidney Rigdon, a friend of Joseph's from Pennsylvania. 6 The Mormons have tried to prove that Rigdon could not have been in New York then, or at any other time, but the attempt turned out to be the strongest substantiation of the reported visit. At just the period mentioned there is a gap of about a month in the record of his activities at home. 7 Again, in May, Rigdon seems to have gone to Palmyra for a conference, for he is reported to have been there "early in the summer," and at that time there is no record of his having been at home. He could make the trip to Palmyra and back in ten days. 8 The story of finding the book must have been pretty well worked out, for
3 Ibid., p. 48. 4 Ibid., p. 126. 5 Ibid., pp. 149 f.
6 Ibid., p. 134. Saunders' very important letter was here published for the first time (1912).
7 See Shook's careful analysis (ibid., pp. 145 ff.).
8 Statement of Mrs. H. Eaton, Palmyra resident (ibid., p. 130). On time for trip, cf. ibid., p. 147.
BRINGING FORTH THE BOOK OF MORMON 33
the next month Joseph's father told that a spirit had told the boy, some years before, of a record on gold plates. "On the 22nd of September, he must repair to the place where was deposited this manuscript, dressed in black clothes, and riding on a black horse with a switch tail, and demand the book in a certain name." He went as directed but was told to return a year later with his eldest brother. When he went alone the next year, this brother having died, he was told to return in a year with a man whom he would recognize. 9
In August Smith and his wife went after her property. When her father saw them he burst into tears and said: "You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave." Smith, too, wept and promised to give up the seer stone and money-digging. Hale offered to help him if he would move there and work for a living. He agreed, but on the way back to Manchester confided: "it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose." Perhaps he conscientiously aimed to break with his dishonest past, but, if so, soon abandoned the resolution. He seemed perplexed for a few days, 10 but perplexity immediately disappeared when Rigdon came for another visit. Saunders saw them together in the fall of 1827. 11 It was in September that Smith claimed to have received the golden Bible and at just that time appears another long gap in Rigdon's ministerial activities, from August 23 to October 9. Early in September Joseph asked Willard Chase to make a chest in which he could lock up the plates which he expected to get soon. Chase refused to do so. On the twenty-second of the month Joseph claimed that he had received the book, so Rigdon probably turned over the manuscript to him at that time. The next day he told Lorenzo Saunders what a difficult time he had getting the gold plates home from the hill where he dug them up. Two men tackled him but he knocked both down and escaped. As proof of the fight he exhibited a bruised thumb. When he left, Saunders' mother remarked: "What a liar Joseph Smith
9 Ibid., pp. 23 f.
10 Ibid., pp. 18 ff. Affidavit of Peter Ingersoll.
11 Ibid., p. 134.
34 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
is.... I know he lies because he looks so guilty; he can't see out of his eyes." The next Sunday Saunders and five or six others searched the hill but found no hole except where the money-diggers had worked a year or two before. 12
Peter Ingersoll claimed that Joseph told him he had taken home some beautiful white sand in his coat and, having heard of a golden Bible found in Canada, told his family that was what he had. Whatever it was that he had, he kept it secure in a rough board box. A pillow case was slipped over the box and people were then allowed to feel and lift it. 13 It is reported that a friend was not dissuaded by the assertion that no one could see it and live and, jerking off the cover, found a large brick. 14 Stories about the book grew. The Smiths let their imaginations run freely. Once "they said the plates Joe then had in possession were but an introduction to the Gold Bible; that all of them upon which the Bible was written were so heavy that it would take four stout men to load them into a cart; that Joseph had also discerned by looking through his stone the vessel in which the gold was melted from which the plates were made The old lady said also that after the book was translated, the plates were to be publicly exhibited, admission 25 cts. 15 Joseph himself gave quite divergent accounts at different times. One striking variation was that when he got the plates "he saw a man standing over the spot who, to him, appeared like a Spaniard, having a long beard with his throat cut from ear to ear and the blood streaming down, who told him that he could not get it alone.” 16
How different was the official account worked out at Nauvoo,
12 Ibid., pp. 134 f.
13 Ibid., p. 21. That the golden Bible idea came from Rigdon is corroborated by Linn's failure to find any trace of such a story in Canada (op. cit., p. 25). Linn's idea that Smith thought of a buried book and that "Rigdon was attracted to Smith by the rumor" (ibid., p. 23) is most improbable, since Smith made no such claims until after working with Rigdon.
14 Linn, op. cit., pp. 26 f.
15 Ibid., p. 25. Statement of Martin Harris' sister-in-law.
16 Ibid., p. 28. Similarly his father told F. Lapham, "A very large, tall man appeared to him dressed in an ancient suit of clothes, and the clothes were bloody" (ibid., p. 29).
BRINGING FORTH THE BOOK OF MORMON 35
containing artificial visions and pious platitudes and generous Scripture quotations! Riley amazingly assumed the historicity of the official story. Meyer recognized that the vision in which Father and Son appear to Smith is borrowed from the transfiguration of Christ, but he mistakenly supposed that Riley's interpretation was, in general, sound. 17 Indirectly this vision is based on the transfiguration but directly on Christ's appearance to the Nephites where the source (Matt. 17:5) is even more obvious. 18 The use of this idea in III Ne. 11:7 so impressed itself on Rigdon's mind that he added "Hear ye him" to Matt. 3:17 when translating the Bible. After this repeated use it was natural to use this idea when working out the fictitious visions. Riley regarded the visions of Moses as dimly reproducing Joseph's "abnormal experiences," whereas the biography, written eight years after the Book of Moses, contains the elaboration of ideas in that book. 19 Joseph's official visions have no basis in mysticism whatever.
Mormon tradition added many strange elements to the story. Joseph's father told that when he went to get the book "a host of devils began to screech" and that one struck him a blow on the side where a black-and-blue spot remained three or four days. 20 At another time lie told that when the box was opened "something like a toad which soon assumed the appearance of a man" struck Joseph on the side of the head. Joseph himself said that on his way home with the book two men attacked him but that he escaped. 21 The final development is: "Three times, on the short journey to his home, he was attacked by unknown men who endeavored to strike him and rob him of his charge. Once he was hit with a bludgeon." 22 This "persecution" has not
17 Meyer, Ursprung und Gesch. der Mormonen, p. 17.
18 This pseudo-vision appears in verse 17 of Smith's autobiography as printed in the Pearl of Great Price.
19 The Founder of Mormonism, pp. 88, 68 ff. As Moses calls on God to deliver him from the devil (1:20) so Smith (vs. 16). The transfiguration had also previously suggested Moses 1:11.
20 Linn, op. cit., pp. 19 f.
21 Shook, op. cit., pp. 24, 27.
22 F. H. Anderson, A Brief History of the Church (1926), p. 21.
36 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
the slightest basis in fact. Actually, Smith would sit on a store box and describe the size, weight, and beauty of the plates so vividly that "he made some of the smartest men in Palmyra rub their eyes in wonder." No one tried to hinder him, for they apprehended no danger from a book "originating with individuals who had neither influence, honesty or honor." 23
Not long after the announcement of the Gold Bible, in the fall of 1827, Alva Hale came to help Joseph and Emma move to the home of her parents. Smith tried to borrow money for the trip from Peter Ingersoll but later told him that he had met Martin Harris and informed him that he had a divine command to ask the first honest man he met for $50. "I saw at once that it took his notion, for he promptly gave me the fifty." 24 With this money Smith started for Pennsylvania but had a little trouble with a constable who was sent after him by a man to whom he owed some money. This was converted by tradition into another attempt at stealing the Gold Bible which is said to have been saved by being hidden in a barrel of beans. 25 When they got to Harmony the father-in-law learned that instead of having given up "glass-looking," as Joseph called it, he now claimed to have a "Book of Plates" in a box similar to those in which window glass was crated. Hale objected to having it around, so Joseph hid it in the woods. In February, 1828, Martin Harris came to serve as scribe. 26 But he found that Smith had abandoned the translation of the plates due to Mr. Hale's opposition. "I have not come down here for nothing, and we’ll go on with it," said Harris, to which Joseph agreed. 27 Harris'
23 Linn, op. cit., p. 27, and Shook, op. cit., p. 30. Contrast the fully developed myth: "Conjurors, diviners with peepstones and other means were employed (to steal the plates). Mobs gathered and searched the premises...." (J. F. Smith, Essentials in Church History (1928), p. 61). Another legend says that when he first saw the plates the angel showed him the devil and his angels as a warning. Cf. Riley, op. cit., p. 71.
24 Shook, op. cit., p. 22. The idealized version is: "he was approached by Martin Harris, who said to him: 'How do you do, Mr. Smith? Here are fifty dollars. I give this to you to do the Lord's work with. '" (J. F. Smith, op. cit., p. 61).
25 Linn, op. cit., p. 36.
26 Cf. Hale's affidavit (Shook, op. cit., p. 32). Saunders also said a "glass box" was used (ibid., p. 135).
27 Linn, op. cit., p. 36. Told by Harris to Ezra Booth.
BRINGING FORTH THE BOOK OF MORMON 37
wife said that his "whole object was to make money" out of the book. Once when she asked him to give it up he answered: "If you would let me alone, I could make money by it." 28
A clever means of fulfilling prophecy had been discovered, probably by Rigdon, and Harris became the willing tool in carrying it out. Harris was given a paper with a "singular medley of Greek, Hebrew and all sorts of letters, more or less distorted.... and intermingled with sundry delineations of half-moons, stars and other natural objects and the whole ending in a rude representation of the Mexican Zodiac, evidently copied from Humboldt. 29 This masterpiece was undoubtedly the work of Rigdon, but the word "Caractors" written over it may indeed be a contribution of Smith. In February, 1828, Harris took the paper to Professor Anthon of New York City. He told Harris what the figures were and that he was being swindled. The Mormons, however, claimed that Anthon said the letter's were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic and that Smith's translation was correct, but that when he learned an angel had revealed the plates he destroyed his certificate of correct translation. He offered to translate the plates if Harris would bring them, according to the Mormons, and when Harris said he could not bring all, because some were scaled, said: "I cannot read a sealed book." 30 In Isa. 29:11-12 when "one that is learned" is asked to read a book he replies: "I cannot, for it is sealed." Then it is given to one "that is not learned" and he says simply: "I am not learned." In II Nephi 27, Rigdon expanded this into a page of prophecy. The sealed book is part of the Book of Mormon.
And the learned (Anthon) shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read And the man (Harris) shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned (Anthon) say: I cannot read it. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver the book.... to him that is not learned (Smith).... and say unto him: The learned shall not read__________
28 Shook, op. cit., p. 47. Harris' sister-in-law heard the conversation and reports him as saying: "What if it is a lie; if you will let me alone I will make money out of it" (ibid., p. 48).
29 Professor Anthon. Cf. J. Smith and H. C. Smith, History of the Church, I, 22.
30 Ibid., I, 19.
38 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work (without any scholars); wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee (with a seer stone).
Undoubtedly the Mormons hoped that Anthon would not live to too ripe an old age, for they refrained from publishing their version of the interview until 1842. But Anthon lived until 1867 and vigorously denied having fulfilled Hebrew prophecy. In more recent years, since Mormonism's "caractors" have been devastatingly compared with actual Indian hieroglyphics, 31 Mormons probably wish that the prophet had given only a translation of the Reformed Egyptian. 32 But in the early days this story of the sealed book was an effective defense of the translation of the Book of Mormon by unlearned Joseph Smith. It was used for years before it was published.
But if God needed no scholars, at least he had to provide a means by which the unlearned could translate. In Spaulding's first novel he provided the Indian prophets with a stone in which they could see hidden treasures, future events, and "the galant & his mistress in their bedchamber." 33 In the Book of Mormon similar "interpreters" are used. They were probably in the Manuscript Found though they may have undergone Rigdonian development. The two stone interpreters were fastened in “two rims of a bow" and were of special value in translating "all records." A seer, who uses them, is greater than a prophet. By divine direction they were buried with the plates. 34 Since gospel ordinances are held to be the same in all ages, the interpreters had to be given historical sanction, and so were identified with the Urim and Thummim. 35 In Exodus these lots are
31 Cf. M. T. Lamb, The Golden Bible (1886), pp. 262 ff.
32 Mormons denied that Anthon repudiated their version of the interview but were afraid to write him. Nor have they presented the "caractors" to other scholars. Riley's desire to see automatic writing in them is almost as far-fetched. They contain too much minutely planned detail and their use precludes such a view. Riley's JOE and SOJ are eisegesis (op. cit., pp. 84 ff.).
33 The "Manuscript Story," p. 107. [see p. 98 RLDS ed.]
34 Cf. Mos. 28:13, 8:13 ff.; Ether 3:23, 4:5.
35 "The common means of giving the oracle was the ephod, a wrap or bag concealing the sacred lots; these bore the name urim and thummim and consisted of two sticks or stones which replied with Yes or No. (R. Kittel, The Religion of the People of Israel , p. 60).
BRINGING FORTH THE BOOK OF MORMON 39
put in Aaron's breastplate of judgment, but when Mormonism changed them into stones resembling "two large white diamonds set in a bow like a pair of spectacles," 36 they could not be put in the breastplate, instead were fastened to it as a sort of helmet.
Thus provided Smith was ready to translate the book. To give the translation an appearance of reality he had to dictate Rigdon's Bible to some scribe, he being incapable of the literary task. Accordingly, after going home to settle up business interests, Harris returned to Harmony, Pennsylvania, and began writing. This continued from April 12, 1828, to June 14, during which time 116 pages were written. Harris declared that he believed Joseph was really translating because lie could not spell "February" except while translating. 37 Harris teased to be allowed to take the MS home to show to his family, but when he did so in July his wife nearly ruined the dispensation of the fulness of times by stealing it. She refused to give it back, probably destroyed it. When Harris did not return Smith became worried and went to Palmyra. When told what happened he said, "O my God all is lost! all is lost!" Apparently he had not preserved the original. As punishment, the Urim and Thummim and plates were taken from him but soon were restored. 38 Translating stopped for about ten months, while Rigdon re-wrote the lost part. During this time Joseph is said to have been visited by "the stranger" (Rigdon), and he was away from home for some time, very likely in conference with Rigdon. 39 Joseph was directed by revelation not to retranslate the stolen portion lest wicked men produce the original in altered form and claim that he could not reproduce it correctly. It was further revealed that on the plates of Nephi "a more particular account” of the identical matter was recorded and that this should be translated in place of the stolen part. 40 Also, in "The Words of Mormon, inserted at the point the stolen part left off, Mormon is made to explain that after he had made an
36 Lucy Smith. Cf. Caswall, The City of the Mormons (1843), p. 27. Later she said they were three-cornered diamonds, in silver bows.
37 Cf. Linn, op. cit., p. 48.
38 Ibid., pp. 41-44.
39 Ibid., pp. 41 ff.; D.C. 3.
40 D.C. 10.
40 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
abridgment of the record down to the reign of King Benjamin he discovered a set of plates which covered exactly the same period of history. He continued the abridgment on the new-found plates, but the Spirit had him preserve his own plates, a duplication he could not understand, "for a wise purpose." The Spirit had foreknowledge of Mrs. Harris. 41
When the MS was ready Harris was replaced as scribe by Oliver Cowdery who had been a go-between for Rigdon and Smith. According to Saunders, Cowdery came from Kirtland, Rigdon's home, in the summer of 1827, to Palmyra. He taught near the Smith home, was gone during the next summer, took the school again in the fall of 1828. So that his advent would not appear suspicious he boarded with Joseph's parents and was "converted" by them. He had the school board release him, went to Pennsylvania, and began writing for Joseph two days after his arrival. 42 With the coming of Cowdery the fictitious Urim and Thummim was given up and the entire book was translated by the professed aid of the seer stone, a change explained by some on the basis of Smith's sin in giving the 116 pages to Harris. 43 Mormon accounts of how the translating was done disagree so radically and are manifestly so deceptive that little can be learned from them. It is certain that Joseph did not look through the stone at the supposed plates, for in some instances the plates were distant. He was hid from the view of the scribe by a curtain, so what he did cannot be known. Since his method of peeking was well known, it was frequently asserted that he translated in the same way, putting the stone in his hat, burying his face in it, and reading off what appeared on the stone. Indeed, his wife who wrote a little for him said: "I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat with the stone in it.” 44 Smith must have thought that the seer stone too should be sanctioned by the Book of Mormon, for in Alma 37:23
41 Cf. Lamb, op. cit., pp. 118 ff.
42 Shook, op. cit., pp. 134 f. Also J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., I, 29 ff.
43 David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers (1926), p. 5.
44 Cf. Traum, Mormonism against Itself, pp. 62-64; Linn, op. cit., p. 48.
BRINGING FORTH THE BOOK OF MORMON 41
"Gazelem" is promised "a stone" whereby to bring forth the Nephite records.
From April 7, 1829, to June the translating progressed rapidly, but Smith's father-in-law became so disgusted that Joseph and Oliver had to leave. Cowdery wrote to his friend David Whitmer of Fayette, New York, asking him to come for them. According to Joseph's mother this, too, was directed by revelation. Angels helped Whitmer with the farm work, so he could go sooner. 45 Translating was only momentarily stopped by the move and was finally concluded that same month, June, 1829.
To be able to answer the charge of fraud it was decided to have witnesses verify the existence of the plates. Rigdon wrote in the Book of Mormon that three witnesses should view them. 46 Martin Harris asked to be one. God granted the request but, knowing Martin's talkativeness, informed him that he must never say more than: "I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God." 47 Cowdery and Whitmer were the other two selected. The three signed a statement declaring that an angel showed them the plates. Wanting to share their glory, eight others were later allowed to sign a similar testimony. But no angel appeared to them. Joseph passed the plates around. Three of the eight were Smiths. Even Mormons recognize that this second testimony does not mean much. 48 Not to be outdone, Joseph's mother once told how she too viewed the sacred articles. She described them in detail but could not look the visitor in the eye. 49 All of the three witnesses left the church, and Mormons are very grateful that they never very openly repudiated their testimony.
To account for this testimony Riley uses the rather preposterous theory of hypnosis. 50 Others have suggested that Rigdon dressed up as an angel and fitted up an exhibit in the woods. Or it is possible that the objects were seen with the spiritual
45 Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, p. 160.
46 II Ne. 27:12, 11:3; Ether 5:3-4.
47 D.C. 5:26.
48 Perhaps the MS had to be changed to allow for them (II Ne. 27:14, etc.) or possibly Rigdon had allowed for such an event.
49 Caswall, op. cit., p. 27.
50 Op. cit., pp. 218 ff.
42 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
eye -- were said to be seen because they were supposed to be seen. But the most probable explanation is deception. These men have been charged by Mormons themselves with gravest crimes, 51 and while Cowdery avoided open repudiation of Mormonism, yet he later joined another church, thereby admitting his error (cf. Shook). In time he again professed the Mormon faith and urged Whitmer to be true to his testimony. Of the three, indeed of the eleven, the only person whose life might warrant a judgment of sincerity is Whitmer, and he expressed faith in the Book of Mormon until his death. 52 Nevertheless, even he was guilty of the most serious imposture, attempting to succeed Smith by means of revelation. 53 In later years, when he had been making money by charging admission to a little religious museum, Smith realized how foolish he had been in not making some real plates. When J. C. Bennett joined forces with him in 1840 Smith promised to let him "go to New York and get some plates engraved.... so that he could exhibit them.... at twenty-five cents a sight." 54
With the translation finished and the book properly witnessed, 55 plans were made for publication. Some trouble was experienced in getting anyone to print it. E. Grandin of Palmyra finally consented to print 5000 copies for $3,000 when told that someone else had been found who would print it if he would not. The MS was copied by Cowdery and this copy was given to the printer piecemeal as the work progressed. The copy was so poor that spelling, punctuation, and even grammatical construction had to be revised by the printers. Printing began in August, 1829, and was completed by March, 1830. 56
51 Cf. Traum, op. cit., p. 59, also W. E. LaRue, The Foundations of Mormonism (1919), pp. 76 f.
52 Cf. Riley, op. cit., pp. 218 f.
53 Cf. below, p. 139.
54 Shook, op. cit., p. 115. Bennett was a scoundrel but there is no reason to doubt this statement.
55 Cf. this by Smith: "You have here given your opinion.... that revelation.... cannot be solved as a mathematical problem..... One thing more in order to prove the work. as we proceed; it is necessary to have witnesses, two or three testimonies' according to the laws or rules of God and man" (Correspondence between J. Smith.... and Col. J. Wentworth.... , p. 9).
56 Cf. J. F. Smith, op. cit., p. 83; Linn, op. cit., pp. 47 f.; J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., I, 81.
BRINGING FORTH THE BOOK OF MORMON 43
Harris had agreed to pay for the printing of the book in return for which he was to receive the profits from its sale. To raise the money he had to sell his farm but not wishing to sacrifice too much had to wait for a buyer. But the money was needed and his fellows became impatient. Finally, some of the brethren were sent by revelation to Toronto to sell the copyright. 57 When this failed miserably, a long revelation admonished Harris: "Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage." 58 The matter was finally cared for and it seemed that Harris was to reap a small fortune. One dollar and twenty-five cents was to be the lowest sale price of the book, on pain of death, according to revelation. At this rate he would have received better than 100 per cent on his investment, but to his surprise the book would not sell, which shows how groundless is the Mormon complaint of malicious interest in the book at Palmyra. Finally, another revelation permitted Joseph's father to sell the book on commission, taking farm produce in payment, and amusing stories are told of his experiences. 59
One of the original MSS of the Book of Mormon, apparently the first, is still in existence. Passing through many hands it was bought by the Reorganized Church a few years ago for $2,450. 60 Riley thought this the secondary copy because (1) he could detect only one style of handwriting, whereas the original was written by three scribes, (2) he could find no printer's smudge on it, and (3) it contains repetitions which would seem to indicate that it was not dictated but copied. However, Cowdery wrote all but a few pages of the first copy, 61 and there would naturally be no smudge on it because the secondary copy was the one given to the printer. Repetitions may indicate that some or all of the MS was copied directly from Rigdon's original instead of being dictated. The other copy was placed in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo temple [sic] on October 2, 1841. Joseph
57 David Whitmer, op. cit., pp. 39 f.
58 D.C. 19:35.
59 Linn, op. cit., p. 49.
60 Cf. Traum, op. cit., p. 206; Riley, op. cit., pp. 97 ff.; J. Brigham, "The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon," The World To-Day, IX, 1101-6.
61 Cf. Traum, op. cit., p. 61.
44 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
hastily glanced through it to see that it was all there and then placed it inside, saying: "I have had trouble enough with this thing," a remark which shocked one of his followers. 62 When it was removed, the temple being destroyed, it had been ruined by moisture. With this background let us see why the book had caused the prophet so much trouble.
62 Linn, op. cit., p. 44. Re objections to the Spaulding-Rigdon authorship of the Book of Mormon see .
[ 45 ]
In spite of efficient Mormon advertising and some excellent studies of it the Book of Mormon remains practically unknown in the Gentile world. This is due in part to its being somewhat difficult to read, though this has been exaggerated, for example, by Meyer who insisted that it even stands far below the Koran in monotony and triviality. 1 Perhaps one might agree with Linn that its thorough reading is a tedious task, 2 but if it is skimmed through, as one reads fiction, it is even entertaining. The fundamental idea of the book is not unique, as is often claimed, but resulted from reflection over the origin of the Indians. To find a portion of humanity in isolated America was thought-provoking. Of various theories that of Hebraic origin was most common, fitting in best with the biblical ethnology of the time. It had been advocated by early Spanish priests, by a Jewish rabbi in 1650, and by many prominent men, among them Roger Williams, William Penn, and Jonathan Edwards. Five years before the publication of the Book of Mormon, Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews or the Tribes of Israel in America was being sold, and many other writers advocated the same proposition. 3
We know that Spaulding was aware of such thought. Rev. Abner Jackson told how Spaulding referred to a note in Morse's Geography which suggested that the Indians might be descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, who could have wandered up through Asia and crossed at Bering Strait. Spaulding's sister-in-law stated that he "had for many years contended that the
1 Ursprung und Gesch. der Mormomen, p. 43. Meyer himself never read it through.
2 The Story of the Mormons, p. 89.
3 Cf. Riley, The Founder of Mormonism, pp. 123-27; Traum, Mormonism against Itself, chap. vii; A. H. Godbey, The Lost Tribes a Myth (1930), chap. I.
46 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
aborigines of America were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel." 4 The problem had two phases. It was first necessary to account for the origin of the Indians, to relate them to Israelite history -- then regarded as world-history -- and then to account for their fall into heathendom. The Book of Mormon is a complex answer to these questions. The first settlers came directly from the Tower of Babel, led by Jared, crossing the ocean in ships "tight like unto a dish" and as long as trees. 5 Landing on the east coast of Central America, near the river Motagua, 6 they established a civilization which spread over North America. Though the Indians built the mounds, these Jaredites are credited with their erection. Through war they were utterly destroyed just before the second colonization. One of the two survivors of the last battle was found alive.
The history of this second group fills all books but one (Ether). Aware of the coming distress of Israel, Lehi left with his family about 600 B.C. Taking brass plates containing genealogies and most of the Old Testament they put out into the Indian Ocean and landed on the coast of Chili. 7 The people soon divided into cultured Nephites and barbarous Lamanites, the Nephites spreading over North America. Another group came from Palestine when "Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon," and joined the Nephites. 8 As had been prophesied, Christ appeared to the Nephites after his death in Palestine. In Judea he was heralded by angels but in America by barbarous destruction. Tempest, fire, flood, and convulsion of the earth destroyed whole cities. For three days the people howled in darkness. Finally Jesus spoke, all America hearing, and rebuked the people for sin. 9 He proved his identity as to doubting Thomas, but the Nephites were not so easily
4 Shook, True Origin of the Book of Mormon, pp. 106, 97. Remembering this Jackson wrongly thought the Nephites came in this way and Martha Spaulding wrongly thought them descendants of the lost tribes.
5 Ether 2:17. On barges cf. Lamb, The Golden Bible, pp. 79 ff.
6 Archaeological Com. of Reorganized Church (Shook, op. cit., p. 10).
7 Shook, ibid., p. 11. Re the many mistakes in developing the story see Lamb, op. cit., pp. 88 ff., and Shook, Cumorah Revisited (1910).
8 Omni 15.
9 III Ne. 9-10.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK 47
convinced, for they passed along in wearisome line thrusting their hands in his side, and fingers in the prints of the nails. Jesus preached the doctrine of immersion and the Calvinist Lord's Supper as a "remembrance." Twelve apostles were selected 10 who carried on the work after his ascension. In this Mormon Zion people obeyed the priests and held all property in common. There were no more evil "Lamanites, nor any manner of "-ites." 11 But before long the Masonic lodge revived and the people sank so deep into sin that they were overcome by the Lamanites, and completely destroyed at hill Cumorah in western New York. There their records were buried by Moroni in 420 A.D. to be dug up by Joseph Smith. The Indians are descendants of the Lamanites.
In constructing the Book of Mormon far more was borrowed from the Bible than has been realized: names, ideas, extended passages, and the King James style. The peculiarity of Mormon names is well known, yet their significance has not at all been understood. The church proudly publishes a pronouncing vocabulary of them in the Book of Mormon, and some as Nephi and Alma are familiar as personal names, or even as names of towns (Lamoni). In the Wight faction, children were given such names as Romali) Conoman, Loami, and Moroni from the Book of Mormon or by inspiration (through Wight). 12 These names were not created ex nihilo, but have for the most part a clear biblical origin. Many familiar names, as Boaz, Jared, and Amalekites are used, and a few from scattered places as Lehi and Ramath from the story of Samson and Ether from Josh. 15:42. But the great majority come from Isaiah, especially chapters 10 and 11. Spaulding must have hunted such a list, for practically every unusual name in this section was used. Maher-shalal-hash-baz 13 Shear-Jashub, Jeberechiah, Jacobugath, Carchemish, Laish, and Madmenah are typical. From such the whole
10 One was impossibly named Timothy (Greek meaning "God-fearer").
11 IV Ne. 3, 17.
12 Cf. H. H. Smith, The Lyman Wight Colony in Texas. This fine, short MS was unfortunately not printed by the Texas State Historical Society which received a copy in 1920. The present author his a copy.
13 This name, only in Isa. 8:1 ff., was a prophecy of doom.
48 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
nomenclature was constructed, e.g., Ammon, Ammonites, Ammonihah, Ammonihahites. There are very few names of uncertain origin, as Rameumpton. All stand in striking contrast to Indian names, such as Chimalhuacan, Mazatepec, Quiyahiuztlan, and Xicalancatl. 14 It was discovered that "Mormon" is Greek for hobgoblin and is used in English for certain animals, among them the baboon. Perhaps to avoid mistaken identity, Smith promptly denied that there was Greek or Latin on the plates and stated that "Mormon" means "more good." Bible itself means "good." "We say from the Saxon, good; the Dane, god; the Goth, goda; the German, gut; the Dutch, goed; the Latin, bonus; the Greek, kalos; the Hebrew, tob; the Egyptian, mon. Hence with the addition of more, or the contraction mor, we have the word Mormon, which means literally "more good." 15 The believers saw nothing wrong in this union of English "more" and Egyptian "mon."
Bible passages appropriated by the Book of Mormon include twenty-one chapters of Isaiah, distorted into prophecies of Mormonism. 16 In Mos. 12 and 13, the ten commandments appear, and in III Ne. 12-14, the sermon on the mount, slightly altered. 17 Malachi, chapters 3-4. appears in III Ne. 24-25, for its prophetic value. Shorter passages are I Cor. 12:1-11 in Moro. 10, and Acts 3:22-26 in III Ne. 20. The book is full of short biblical expressions. One man counted 298 from the New Testament in 426 pages of the first edition. 18 Parts, claimed to have been written 600 years before Paul, contain his "bond"
14 Cf. Lamb, op. cit., pp. 277 ff. Nevertheless Mormons "translated" some Indian inscriptions: "I Mahanti, the 2nd King of the Lamanites, in five valleys in the mountains, make this record in the 12 hundredth year since we came out of Jerusalem -- And I have three sons gone to the South country to live by hunting... " (J. W. Gunnison, The Mormons , p. 63).
15 Linn, op. cit., p. 108.
16 I Ne. 20, 21; II Ne. 7,8, 12-24, 27; Mos. 12,14, III Ne. 22.
17 To explain omission of Matt. 5:30 the Deseret Evening News, February 21, 1900, indicated that Mormon's report of Jesus' sermon "may not be full and complete." Cf. Linn, op. cit., p. 95.
18 J. Hyde, Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs (1857), p. 233.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK 49
and "free" (Galatians, chapter 3; II Ne. 26), and in II Ne. 9:9 Satan transforms himself into "an angel of light." 19
Many biblical ideas are used. The Nephites were ruled by "judges' as well as kings. They worshiped in "synagogues," though this is not a Hebrew word (Greek "lead-together"; Hebrew is beth-ha-kenesheth), and though the synagogue as an institution developed after the Nephites left Palestine. 20 As in Daniel, chapter 5, the "finger of God" writes on a wall (Alma 10:2). Jacob's blessing his sons in Genesis, chapter 49, which gave birth to The Testaments of the XII Patriarchs shortly before the Christian era, here suggests Lehi's blessings in II Ne. 2-4. In Ether 1, there is a genealogy, and the raising of Lazarus leaves traces in Alma 19:5. The trial of Alma and Amulek in Alma 14 repeats in surprising detail the trial of Jesus. Their escape from prison combines the stories of the Philippian jail, Peter's escape from prison, and Samson's destruction of the great building of the Philistines. 21 In Ether 8 are (81 B.C.) elements from the story of the beheading of John. The abduction of the dancing daughters of Shiloh (Judges, chapter 21) is copied in Mos. 20. The prayers of the Pharisee and publican (Luke, chapter 18) are the basis of Alma 38:13-14: "Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men.... Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren...." Unlike Paul, Nephi was not "mighty in writing" (11 Ne. 33:1), and in II Ne. 9 we find nine woeatittides instead of nine beatitudes. Many ideas are taken over bodily and elaborated, as Jesus' blessing of children in III Ne. 17. Others have an indirect biblical origin. Thus, "Rabbanah, which is, being interpreted, powerful or great king" (Alma 18:13) comes from "Rabboni; which is to say, Master" (John 16).
19 Claimed date ca. 550 B.C. Cf. II Cor. 11:14.
20 Cf. Kittel, Religion of the People of Israel, p. 202.
21 Judges, chapter 16, Acts, chapters 16, 5. For a similar combination see Lamb, op. cit., p. 74.
50 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
LITERARY CHARACTERISTICSThe Book of Mormon reflects in detail the life and though and backwoods English of the locality and time of its writing. Those parts not borrowed from the Bible have a literary style all their own, most noticeable in inexcusable repetition. The sayings of Jesus are concise, but one sentence put in his mouth in the Book of Mormon is 392 words long. 22 Had Smith really been a translator, these defects would have been less fatal. But all he had to do was read off the ready-made English which miraculously appeared on his seer stone. God being the translator we would be justified in expecting the translation to be marvelous. The Mormons reply that we should not hold God responsible for defects in the Nephite language. Rigdon had considerable anxiety about the matter, for the Book of Mormon repeatedly refers to it. In Ether 12:25, Moroni complained because of the "weakness" and poor "placing" of his words, and feared lest the Gentiles mock at them. But God comforted him: "Fools shall mock, but they shall mourn; and.... they shall take no advantage of your weakness." The absolute inadequacy this was pointed out by Lamoni Call:
The Urim and Thummim should have brought up the thoughts of the ancients. And even if these thoughts were originally clothed in language full of ambiguity it should have appeared on the Urim and Thummim in perfect English. We must ever bear in mind that a translation is not a setting over of words. It deals with thoughts. 23
Much of this literary weakness was eliminated by careful revision. Many of the defects corrected were grammatical mistakes especially prevalent during Rigdon's youth. Adverbs and adjectives wrongly used were corrected; nouns, pronouns, and verbs changed about; and the tense of verbs altered. The King James's English was replaced by modern in many cases or given modern spelling. Whole clauses were taken out when they detracted, and sentences were rounded out by adding words or
22 III Ne. 21:1-7. This is not simply defective punctuation but literary structure.
23 2000 Changes in the Book of Mormon (1898), pp. 29 f. Call realized that if the book was translated as claimed, the 2,038 corrections made in it under Joseph F. Smith were sacrilege. After penetrating study he was forced to painful rejection of the book and the latter-day work.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK 51
clauses. These defects had their origin in the poor English of pioneer days. The Nephite language, which lost contact with other tongues 2,400 years before the Book of Mormon was translated, acquired the very peculiarities of this species of English -- in word order and phraseology and errors. They used "which" for "who"' which was good English when the Bible was translated but not in the time of Rigdon. They used a superfluous "a." "Double negatives which are directly contrary in letter to the spirit of the sentence, a common error among us, must have been common then also. In fact the errors resemble back woods English so closely that one would be justified in rejecting the whole work on that one point...” 24 Even the present Book of Mormon, with its thousands of changes (not mentioned in it), is not impressive in a literary way. Two striking uncorrected passages are Ether 15:31 where Shiz raised on his hands and "struggled for breath" after his head was "smitten off,” and Hel. 9:6 where a man was stabbed "by a garb of secrecy." Some peculiar expressions are used so consistently that they have been designated "pets," as "more," in "for a more history part are written upon mine other plates." 25 One old Indian surprisingly waved "the rent of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which be bad wrote upon the rent." 26 It has been objected that this is not Rigdon's style, but it is certainly more that of the emotionally eloquent backwoods preacher than of the scholastic Spaulding. Shook points out these expressions: "everlastingly too late," "did sing redeeming love," "experienced a change of heart," and "lay down the weapons of your rebellion." 27
REFLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY CULTUREFully as significant as literary style is the way the Book of Mormon embodies contemporary culture. The most striking instance
24 Ibid., pp. 74-76.
25 II Ne. 4:14. Cf. Lamb, op. cit., pp. 51 ff., for others.
26 Alma 46:19. This has been "corrected."
27 Shook, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, p. 174. To see the weaknesses in the book read J. R. Lambert, Objections to the Book of Mormon.... Refuted.
52 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
has been little recognized. 28 To the casual reader the many passages where "oaths" and "secret societies" are dealt with may seem both strange and inexplicable. But the people for whom the book was intended well understood these references. The meaning was so obvious that it was scarcely commented on in print. The lodge question is today relatively inconsequential. There are so many social cross-currents, with such a dilution of loyalty, that it is rather difficult to comprehend the passion associated with the question of Masonry when the Book of Mormon was written. It has its rise chiefly in the disappearance of William Morgan at Batavia, New York. Morgan was writing an exposure of Masonry, so local Masons took him to Canada and probably murdered him. In a short time huge "Morgan meetings" were being held, and the matter went so far that Congress was asked to make an investigation. 29 It was most natural for the Book of Mormon to make a direct appeal to such prejudices. This was noted by the editor of The Unitarian in January, 1834: "Finally, it is well known that.... there is a strong opposition to the institution of Masonry. All such will find much in the Book of Mormon to meet their views.... Mormon apologists claim that these "secret societies" have nothing to do with Masonry, but that this was not the understanding when the Book of Mormon appeared is indicated by comments of the time. Alexander Campbell, militant sectarian, noted that the Book of Mormon "decides all the great controversies.... and even the question of Freemasonry," 30 and pointed out that Moroni lamented "the prevalency of Freemasonry in the times when his book should be dug up." E. S. Abdy, an Englishman who visited western New York, wrote in 1835 that the book's unequivocal allusion to Masonry points to the place of its concoctions. 31
28 Adequately only in S. H. Goodwin's Mormonism and Masonry (1925) and Additional Studies in Mormonism and Masonry (1927).
29 Goodwin, Add. Stud. in Morm. and Masonry, p. 12, and H. Brown, A Narrative of the Anti-Masonick Excitement (1829).
30 Delusions: An Analysis of the Book of Mormon (1832), p. 13.
31 Cf. Goodwin, Ibid. Stud. in Morm. And Masonry, p. 20.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK 53
That the reference is to Masonry is borne out by the fact that every criticism heaped upon it is made a characteristic of the Nephite society. It is criminal, murderous, exerts undue influence on the courts, and usurps political power. It places its adherents in high position and gives them unfair protection. 32 "Abomination" had come to be used as a reference to the lodge, and "combinations" and "associations" were seized upon, suggested by warning against them (certain "democratic societies") in Washington's "Farewell Address." Ether 8:18, typical of this influence, states that the Nephite "combination is most abominable." Like the Masonic lodge, the Indian lodge is accused of being a menace to government, destructive of liberty, unchristian, of satanic origin, of having fearful power, and being devilish in operation. 33 It had its secret signs and words, secret works, secret plans, and mysteries, and was called a "secret society." 34 Devilish oaths and secrecy were its means of operation, making possible its own court system and punishment. Masonry's pretended antiquity is accepted by originating it in a plot between Cain and the devil. Finally, modern Masonry is predicted and identified with the Indian lodge, saying that the Book of Mormon should come forth in a day "of secret combinations." 35
Similarly, it is possible to show how current theological ideas appear in the Book of Mormon. It is because the time was one of extensive and intensive polemics that the book contains so much clashing theology. Had it been written ten years before -- the sectarian period was then only beginning -- it would have been less doctrinally severe. 36 Alexander Campbell, who exerted
32 Cf. Eth. 9:6, Hel. 8:1, 7:4, 2:5, 6:21.
33 Cf. III Ne. 7:6, 3:2; Hel. 6:34; III Ne. 6:28; Eth. 8:25, 8:16.
34 Cf. Hel. 6:22; III Ne. 3:7; Hel. 11:10; Alma 37:21; III Ne. 3:9.
35 Cf. Eth. 8:16; II Ne. 10:15, Hel. 6:24; Eth. 10:33, Morm. 8:27. Quite a number of these influences are traced by Goodwin in chap. iii of Add. Stud. Of Morm. and Masonry.
36 "By the year 1830 the tendency towards unionism and cooperation among the churches" was replaced by "dogmatism in religion and ethics. Schism was almost regarded as a virtue" (A. R. Wentz, The Church in American History , pp. 128 f.).
54 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
certainly no pacific influence on this contentious age, showed how well the Book of Mormon incorporated what he and other polemicists were thinking about:
This prophet Smith.... wrote on the plates of Nephi.... every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies -- infant baptism, ordination, the Trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of Freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man. He prophesied of all these topics, and of the apostacy....37
A number of ideas associated with that of the apostasy, last mentioned, need detailed consideration. Rigdon was for some time a colaborer with Campbell; so these and other distinctive ideas of the Campbellites found their way into the Book of Mormon
The book points out that the apostasy of the Catholic church made a reinstatement of original Christianity necessary, and it prophesies the doom of that "great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth." 38 Purified Christianity which is then instituted consists of the elements which biblical literalists were insisting on, with some added biblical ideas as that of the priesthood. Just as Baptists and Campbellites were debating infant baptism, so in 400 A.D. this issue was so bitter among the Indians that Mormon wrote a special epistle about it. 39 "Listen to the words of Christ.... Behold, I came.... not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician.... wherefore, little children are whole.... wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is a solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children." These are indeed the words of Christ, Luke 5:32, 31. Further, in III Ne. 11:23 ff., Christ says emphatically: "then shall ye immerse them." Some had argued against immersion, but Jesus concludes his instructions: "And there shall be no more disputations among you." On November 18, 1827, nearly two months
37 ">Campbell, op. cit., p. 13.
38 I Ne. 22:13, based on Rev. 17:2-14.
39 Appears as Moroni 8.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK 55
after Rigdon turned the MS over to Smith, the Disciples adopted the doctrine that baptism has as its ventral function not the regeneration of man but the remission of sins. Rigdon particularly had sponsored this; so we are not surprised to find it emphatically stated in the Book of Mormon. 40
Another characteristic of the restored church is the laying on of hands for the gift of the Spirit: "as he clapped his hands upon them they were filled with the Holy Ghost." 41 The ensuing "gifts of the Spirit" are portrayed in Moroni 10, taken from I Corinthians, chapter 12. Woe unto those anti-Mormons, wrote an Indian saint, who shall say that God "no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts." 42 Other elements of Disciple theology adopted by Mormonism relate to the millennium. creeds, denominationalism, name of the church, and the peculiar views of faith, repentance, gospel as a new law, the Lord's Supper, etc. (cf. above, pp. 12 ff.).
In addition to technical theology the whole contemporary culture is reflected back to the Indian civilization. Laban had a steel sword long before steel came into use (I Ne. 4:9). The Lord provided the wanderers with a compass, an error which a Mormon is supposed to have defended by quoting Acts 28:13, "And from thence fetched a compass." 43 America is called the (sweet) "land of liberty" (II Ne. 1:7) and Indians had crops and animals which came to America only with the European settlers -- corn, wheat, barley, neas (peas?), and shem, and among beasts the cow, hog, ass, sheep, and horse. Ladies rejoiced in silks and linens. Rigdon forgot the Hebrew antipathy to pork, for his Nephites ate it without compunction. 44
Words are born only when symbols are needed for new ideas, and in the Book of Mormon we find both strictly modern ideas and modern words, such as baptize, faculties, and immortal. Also many common words are given modern meanings, as Bible
40 Cf. III Ne. 12:2; Moro. 8:11; Linn, op. cit., p. 92. †
41 Alma 16:17. Cf. Acts 19:6
42 III Ne. 29:6.
43 Really means "going about." Cf. I Ne. 16:10 and Linn, op. cit., p. 97.
44 Mos. 9:9; Eth. 9:17 ff.
† context for p. 92 of Linn citation: "Professor Whitsitt, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, in his article on Mormonism in 'The Concise Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, and Gazetteer' (New York, 1891), divides the Mormon Bible into three sections, viz.: the first thirteen books, presented as the works of Mormon; the Book of Ether, with which Mormon had no connection; and the fifteenth book, "which was sent forth by the editor under the name of Moroni." He thus explains his view of the 'editing' that was done in the preparation of the work for publication: -- The editor undertook to rewrite and recast the whole of the abridgment (of Nephi's previous history), but his industry failed him at the close of the Book of Omni. The first six books that he had rewritten were given the names of the small plates. The book called the 'Words of Mormon' in the original work stood at the beginning, as a sort of preface to the entire abridgment of Mormon; but when the editor had rewritten the first six books, he felt that these were properly his own performance, and the 'Words of Mormon' were assigned a position just in front of the Book of Mosiah, when the abstract of Mormon took its real commencement.... The question may now be raised as to who was the editor of the Book of Mormon. In its theological positions and coloring the Book of Mormon is a volume of Disciple theology (this does not include the later polygamous doctrine and other gross Mormon errors). This conclusion is capable of demonstration beyond any reasonable question. Let notice also be taken of the fact that the Book of Mormon bears traces of two several redactions. It contains, in the first redaction, that type of doctrine which the Disciples held and proclaimed prior to November 18, 1827, when they had not yet formally embraced what is commonly considered to be the tenet of baptismal remission. It also contains the type of doctrine which the Disciples have been defending since November 18, 1827, under the name of the ancient Gospel, of which the tenet of so-called baptismal remission is a leading feature. All authorities agree that Mr. Smith obtained possession of the work on September 22, 1827, a period of nearly two months before the Disciples concluded to embrace this tenet. The editor felt that the Book of Mormon would be sadly incomplete if this notion were not included. Accordingly, he found means to communicate with Mr. Smith, and, regaining possession of certain portions of the manuscript, to insert the new item.... Rigdon was the only Disciple minister who vigorously and continuously demanded that his brethren should adopt the additional points that have been indicated."
56 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
and church. The modern astronomical viewpoint is used and even Shakespeare is quoted. 45
This then is the Book of Mormon. Partly through attacks upon it the book has declined in influence. Moreover, though it is supposed to contain a fuller revelation than the Bible, its theology is so simple and repetitious that Mormons have found it more practical to use the Bible for doctrine. On the other hand, the Book of Mormon will not die an easy death. There is much that is appealing about its peculiar and systematic doctrines. Because of its very simplicity and decisiveness on controversial matters God could declare that it contains the "fulness of the gospel," 46 and Smith could claim it to be "the most correct of any book." 47 But since the most important doctrines, as polytheism, polygamy, and temple ordinances for living and dead, are not in it, Mormons are now cautious in claiming that it contains the "fulness of the gospel." Instead, they say it presents the gospel "much plainer" than in the N.T. Lest this seem to give the Nephites an unfair advantage it is explained that the N.T. has lost its original purity. 48 Since 1920 the Book of Mormon has been published attractively, with detailed footnotes, synopsis of chapters, and index. It may be had in what may be termed the Mormon Bible, a volume containing also the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.
45 Cf. Lamb, op. cit., pp. 235 ff.
46 D.C. 20:9, 27:5.
47 Parry, Joseph Smith's Teachings, p. 17.
48 Liahona The Elder's Journal, November 11, 1930, p. 247. "The Book of Mormon has been translated but once; whereas the New Testament has been translated many times." Ridiculously this implies that a translation 'Is made from a former translation, not from the original Greek.
[ 57 ]
[ 58 ]
[ 59 ]
When the church was organized, the hierarchical theory had not been worked out in detail. Rigdon wrote a theory of his office in the Book of Mormon, 1 but there had been little thought relating to the priesthood. Unwittingly Smith had written in an early revelation that he had only one gift from God, that of translating the Book of Mormon, and so he changed this to state that translating was his first gift, thereby allowing for his growing office as prophet, seer, and revelator. Revelation was rather promiscuous, in spite of Joseph being the prophet. He himself told how his brother Samuel "obtained revelations sufficient to convince him of the truth" of the new religion. 2 Oliver Cowdery was even allowed to share in translating, but the Lord soon corrected this mistake by telling him to be satisfied with his gift of divining with a rod: "behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature to work in your hands.... and therefore whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you." In later editions "gift of Aaron" has been substituted for the magic "rod." This change, suggested by Aaron's rod (Num. 17:2), could not be correct since the Aaronic priesthood was not bestowed until the next month. 4 Cowdery was not satisfied with the rod, and God had to tell him not to murmur to stop translating
1 Cf. above, p. 29.
2 B.C. 4:2 reads: "And he has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift." Now this (D.C. 5:4) reads: "And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this... Cf. Traum, Mormonism against Itself, pp. 206 ff.
3 Traum, op. cit., p. 213. He too "retired to the woods."
4 D.C. 6:2S and 8:6-10. Perhaps this influenced II Ne. 3:17, "I will give power unto him [Smith] in a rod." In Gen. 50:34 where it is inserted it is modified to: "and a rod shall be in his hand."
60 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
and be a faithful scribe. 5 But after this he actively opposed Smith. He even commanded him to erase part of a revelation (D.C. 20:37), because it was a reversion from sacramental to Baptist doctrine. Regarding baptism as a profession of faith and not the reception of divine blessing, Mormonism later received from the Campbellites, through Rigdon, the doctrine, that baptism effects forgiveness of sins. The questioned revelation ruled that no one could be baptized until his works showed that he had received remission of sins. This makes remission precede baptism) contrary to what Rigdon wrote in the Book of Mormon, 6 so it is not strange that Joseph with difficulty made Cowdery and the Whitmers accept the revelation. 7 While he succeeded, this aggravated the existing animosity. Cowdery's rebellion is surprising in view of the fact that God had commanded the church shortly before to receive Smith's words "as if from mine own mouth." 8
Cowdery soon found another opportunity to oppose Joseph, when Hiram Page found a stone as good as Joseph's and began getting oracles through it. God was constrained to point out that Smith alone could "receive commandments," and that Cowdery should not try to dictate. 9 He finally accepted this rebuke and persuaded Page that Satan was deceiving him. Joseph nevertheless found it advisable to send Cowdery to preach to the Indians, letting Emma Smith take his place as scribe.
During the early days at Kirtland wild enthusiasm was manifested. Commissions to go and preach, written on parchment, were claimed to have floated down through the air, where they waited to be caught by the proper persons. 10 A boy named Isaac Russell produced troublesome revelations. Others began to make similar claims; so God announced emphatically that none should receive revelations until Joseph be taken, "if he abide in me," and this was made doubly sure by adding that even if Joseph fall he might appoint his successor. 11
5 D.C. 9:3-6.
6 Cf. above, p. 55.
7 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, History of the Church, I, 113.
8 D.C. 21:4-5.
9 D.C. 28:2-6.
10 Linn, The Story of the Mormons, p. 128.
11 D.C. 43:3-4.
PROPHETIC AND INDIVIDUALIST REVELATION 61
At this time the rights of the priesthood and presidency were being magnified. The officials were empowered to apportion land in Zion, bought with pooled resources, and Joseph and Sidney were told to seek a home "as taught through prayer by the Spirit." 12 But the foundation principle of immediacy of revelation continued to interfere with the designs of the leaders. To prove that their church had the presence of God, the Mormons emphasized the gifts of the Spirit, a catalogue of which, patterned on I Cor. 12:7-10, had been written into the Book of Mormon and into D.C. 46:10-26. 13 The Mormons claimed particularly to possess gifts of miracles, healing, prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. These have largely fallen into disuse but at the time were a source of difficulty, for they were undeniably universal, and the transition between them and revelation was easy. Brigham Young acquired the gift of tongues before joining the Mormons and when he uttered a long series of incomprehensible sounds Joseph pronounced it "the pure Adamic language." 14 This became popular, serving as an easy proof of inspiration, even if it also lent itself readily to critical investigation. 15 Often, however, the saints were not satisfied with gibberish. Many poems amounting to revelation have been received through "tongues." An example is:
My saints have desired a song sent from me,__________
12 D.C. 48:6, 63:65. Re land cf. below, p. 90.
13 That in D.C. is based on Moro. 10, but in some instances follows the original. Thus the D.C. speaks of "discerning of spirits" which in B.M. is "beholding of angels and.... spirits."
14 M. R. Werner, Brigham Young (1925), p. 14.
15 In England a Saint submitted to a test, uttering "eight or ten half-stifled snorts, or grunts,” claimed to be Hebrew. None could be identified. He also claimed to speak an Indian tongue but did not know of which American continent. Cf. T. Taylor, An Account of the Complete Failure of an Ordained Priest of the L.D.S. (1840). At Nauvoo a Mormon whose faith was weakening gave a speech on hunting in the Choctaws' language. The interpreter rendered this into a "florid account of the benefits of the Temple." Cf. J. H. Beadle, Life in Utah (1870), p. 323.
16 Jason W. Briggs, A Word of Consolation.... (1863), p. 24.
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God had ruled that the heads of the church should "discern" all gifts lest there be any "professing and yet be not of God." 17 Joseph also had to warn that misuse of "gifts" makes them a curse: "the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners." "Speak not in the gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation. The devil can speak in tongues.... can speak in English or Dutch." 18
Certain "spiritual phenomena" soon became common in spite of warning and "discerning." "Some had visions and could not tell what they saw, some would fancy to themselves that they had the sword of Laban, and would wield it as expert as a light dragon, some would act like an Indian in the act of scalping, some would slide or scoot on the floor, with the rapidity of a serpent, which they termed sailing in the boat to the Lamanites, preaching the gospel. And many other vain and foolish manoeuvers that are unseeming." Many would not turn from their folly, "unless God would give a revelation, therefore the Lord spoke to Joseph." 19 This revelation told the mystics that they were deceived by false spirits, and to beware lest they be Cut off. 20 Even this did not settle the problem, for a month later "manifestations of false and deceiving spirits were.... rebuked." 21 Some influential Mormons were involved and they were not disposed readily to give up their rights. David Whitmer objected that while most of Joseph's "true prophecies" were published, "those of the other brethren were not." 22
By the end of the same summer (1831) it appeared that Joseph would be ousted in spite of all God's declarations. The provision that he might appoint his successor, should he fall, had apparently been used by some as proof that he could be deposed, for God had to reveal that Joseph should never lose the keys,
17 D.C. 46:27.
18 Parry, Joseph Smith's Teachings, p. 49. Cf. pp. 50 f.
19 The Book of John Whitmer, chap. vi. Whitmer withheld it when discharged as historian. The Reorganized church now has it, printed it only in Journal of History, Vol. I, and then omitted chaps. xx-xxii because of damaging contents. The author has a complete copy (cf. Zion's Advocate, VII, 142). Cf. F. M. Davenport, Primitive Traits in Religious Revivals (1917), pp. 188 ff.
20 D.C. 50.
21 Preface to D.C. 52.
22 Whitmer, An Address to all Believers.... (1926 repr.), p. 41.
PROPHETIC AND INDIVIDUALIST REVELATION 63
"while he liveth, inasmuch as he obeyeth mine ordinances." God admitted that his prophet bad sinned but urged the saints to forgive. 23 High-handed methods had aggravated such opposition. While still in New York, Smith had God direct that he and Cowdery live off the church, backed with the threat: "if they receive thee not, I will send them a cursing," 24 and when they moved to Kirtland the Lord commanded the people to build houses for Sidney and Joseph. 25 When they failed to do so Rigdon announced that the keys, i.e., effective authority, had been taken away by God and would not be restored until his house was built. To quiet the disturbance Joseph declared that he held the keys for time and eternity. Sidney was for a time deprived of his license and was so weakened spiritually that the devil succeeded in dragging him out of bed by the heels three times in one night. 26 Once Joseph frightened the elders into traveling by land instead of by canoe -- and thereby winning followers for him on the way -- by letting the devil be seen riding in power on the face of the river. 27
Again in 1833 trouble was brewing and God had to tell Joseph and his Saints that the keys should never be taken from him in this world or that to come. 28 But in spite of this the prophet was brought to church trial the year following. He was "vindicated," but with difficulty retained his position. Three years later an attempt was made to put David Whitmer in his place. This too failed but "it was with danger" that anyone in Kirtland could defend the prophet, and Brigham Young had to flee because he did so. God warned the apostles not to disobey Smith. 29 A young woman got a prophecy through a black stone, revealing that David Whitmer or Martin Harris would replace the erring prophet. "Doctor Williams, the ex-justice of the peace.... wrote her revelations for her." A great proportion of the church decidedly favored this group. 30
23 D.C. 64: 5-7.
24 D.C. 24:4.
25 D.C. 41:7-8.
26 Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, ed. Lamoni, pp. 238-40.
27 D.C. 61.
28 D.C. 90:3.
29 J. F. Smith, Essentials in Church History, pp. 179, 204; D.C. 112:15.
30 Lucy Smith, op. cit., pp. 261 ff.
64 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
From then on bitter controversy and apostasy were almost continuous, although Smith somehow retained his position. After the short stay in Missouri, when the Mormons were torn by dissension and driven by mobs, the great city of Nauvoo, Illinois, was built. Here Joseph exercised an authority which few autocrats have possessed. But even there people tried to appropriate his revelating machine, among them Gladden Bishop and Oliver Olney. Another man was excommunicated when he refused to give up revelations authorizing him to take a brother's watch and suit of clothes and to salute the sisters with a "holy kiss." 31 Non-hiearchical revelation even produced a holy book. James C. Brewster in 1842 published a pamphlet, entitled The Words of Righteousness to All Men Written from One of the Books of Esdras, Which Was Written by the Five Ready Writers, in the Forty Days. Brewster later explained that it is one of the 204 or 904 books which Ezra dictated, according to IV Esdras 14:18-48. Those books were written to be "a guide to the people in the last days." 32 The real meaning of the passage is that Ezra was inspired in his restoration of the law after the return from captivity. His prayer for inspiration is granted find he dictates not only the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible ("reproducing" some not yet written) but 70 others as well. 33 But since Ezra prays for revelating inspiration in order "that those who would live in the last days may live," it is not strange that "Latter-Day Saints" regarded this as a direct reference to them. Brewster claimed that at the age of ten, in 1837, he had received visions of a table full of books and was directed to translate one. When finished, he presented it to the prophet who inquired of the Lord but got no answer. Accordingly Brewster received a revelation on March 29, 1842, directing him to print his book. 34
In the pamphlet itself appears a somewhat different story.
31 Linn, op. cit., p. 115.
32 Olive Branch (Kirtland, Ohio), I, 33 f. This was the paper of the church which later made Brewster prophet. Cf. J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., III, 62 f.
33 Ninety-four is correct but some MSS have 904, 970, etc. The 70 perhaps refers to apocalyptic literature or to the traditional law. Cf. G. F. Moore, Judaism (1927), I, 8.
34 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., III, 63-66.
PROPHETIC AND INDIVIDUALIST REVELATION 65
Instead of being from "one of the books of Esdras," as the title declares, the Preface states that it is an abridgment of Books I-IV, VI-VIII. The Contents also reveal "The Words of Gad the Seer," 35 Suggested by I Chron. 29:29 where such a book is mentioned. The Preface promises that these hundreds of books of Esdras will be brought forth and all other books destroyed by "ungodly men." Seeing the influence which expectancy of the millennium gave Smith, Brewster declared in the Preface that these books should appear "just previous" to the millennium. Its fearful events are a recurring emphasis. 36 The book is an unsystematic series of exhortations to repentance and peaceable spirit, together with declarations of God's mercy, glory, and wisdom. It promises the upbuilding of Zion, in spite of wicked men, until the return of Christ. Interlarded with this are pages of poetry, all. parts of the ancient library of scripture. 37
The incompleteness of the Scriptures had been a strong Mormon talking point, 38 and this pamphlet caused such a stir that the editor of Times and Seasons, John Taylor, printed a notice "lest there should be any so weak handed as to believe in it," quoting the revelation to Cowdery and Page which makes revelating the sole right of Joseph Smith. 39 That this attempted appropriation of, or participation in, Joseph's office of revelator was of serious consequence is not only evidenced by the editorial but by the fact that after the prophet's death a faction accepted Brewster as his successor, on the basis of this and subsequently published books of EsdraS. 40
35 P. 48. Only an "abridgment" like the Book of Mormon.
36 Page 20 states that at that time the "abomination" will repeatedly rise and be overthrown (by earthquake and tempest) until finally destroyed by the Lord.
37 The Utah church historian has the only known copy.
38 Cf. p. 243 f. of A Compendium of the Faith and Doctrine.... (1888) for a list of "missing books of the Bible."
39 IV, 32: "Brewster is a minor; but has professed for several years to have the gift of seeing and looking through or into a stone; and has thought that he has discovered money hid in the ground in Kirtland, Ohio. His father and some of our weak brethren, who perhaps have had some confidence in the ridiculous stories that are propagated concerning Joseph Smith, about money digging, have assisted him in his foolish plans, for which then, were dealt with by the church...."
40 Cf. below, p. 140.
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This insurrection failed for the time being, however. In spite of bitter opposition and jealousy Joseph Smith's position remained secure. And yet the process of revelation was not un-modified. During this period of strife, and in part due to it, revelation was changed from a universal blessing to Joseph Smith's own peculiar tool; and the story of its use, as conditioned by circumstances, development of doctrine, and chance occurrence of problems, reads like fiction.
PARCHMENT OF JOHN THE APOSTLEThis tiny writing marks the transition between the process of revelation involved in translating the Book of Mormon and subsequent Mormon revelation. In elaborating the story of Jesus) ministry to the Nephites an idea was suggested by John 21:23. Perhaps Jesus did will that John should tarry on earth! Joseph produced a translation of "a record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself," in which John's wish to stay on earth and win souls is granted. 41 This forms the basis of III Ne. 28, where Jesus grants the Nephite apostles whatever they desire. Nine ask, as Peter does in the parchment, to go speedily to Jesus after their ministry. The wish is granted, but the other three are "more blessed" for they "desire the thing which John, my beloved.... desired of me." If this had been in an objective Book of Mormon it would not have been necessary for Joseph to inquire, if John had died. Another indication of earthly authorship is that the same phraseology appears in both stories. 42
The principle of a Bible for every people had been written into II Ne. 29:10 f. This is not the finished doctrine of perpetual
41 The "parchment" of only three verses is B.C. 6. At Kirtland in 1835 again as Much was added. To justify the triune presidency which had developed a first presidency with Peter at its head is inserted in this account of the N.T. church. Cf. D.C. 7:7.
42 The prophet is claimed to have said that John is among the lost ten tribes of Israel, "in the north country," either at a specially provided home at the north pole or on another planet. Since polar regions are now explored, Mormons incline toward the latter. Probably the three Nephite apostles are likewise ministering to the lost tribes. Cf. F. M. Darter, The Time of the End (1928), p. 131.
PROPHETIC AND INDIVIDUALIST REVELATION 67
revelation, 43 and was not a forethought of later scriptures. It was merely an answer to anticipated objection to the Book of Mormon. In June, 1829, Smith revealed that in the Bible and Book of Mormon, “are all things written, concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock." 44 Six years later, after the scripture-producing tendency had taken form, he falsified this (D.C. 18:4) to state that these former scriptures contained all things concerning the foundation of the church, thus leaving room for new books and doctrine. Another "correction" of the revelations is even more instructive. Book of Commandments 44:13 commanded the elders to teach the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in which is "the fullness of the gospel." But in time immediate guidance by the Spirit supplanted primary scriptural authority; so when the revelations were doctored up at Kirtland in 1835 it was changed to state (D.C. 42:13) that the Scriptures should be their teaching "as they shall be directed by the Spirit." It was this leading by the Spirit which brought in polytheism, polygamy, and endowment ceremonies.
While other scriptures had not been contemplated, yet Joseph had received revelations, and it was by uniting the principles of revelation and translation that the parchment of John paved the way for the later books. In Joseph's imagination came the question: Who could write more authoritatively about John's tarrying than John himself? This was all that was needed to transform a "revelation" into a "translation." Since the Urim and Thummim presented both alike in ready-made English, the objective source, whether God or parchment, was of no consequence. But even this is not the final stage of construction of scriptures. This book came as a result of circumstances, whereas later ones served practical purposes, solving problems,
43 The complete doctrine adds perpetuity to universality, e.g., the "Official Statement of Belief," of the Reorganized church. "We believe.... that God, by his Spirit, will continue to reveal his word to man until the end of time." If God meets each emergency with a new revelation, then the older scriptures are of little consequence. As seen above, pp. 3 f., this view was adopted. However, see p. 182, below, for later modifications.
44 B.C. 15:3.
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meeting new situations, or teaching new doctrine. Joseph showed how translation and revelation were contingent upon is purpose when he wrote, "I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose." 45 Significantly this passage, Mal. 4:5-6, had previously been converted into a prophecy of the priesthood (D.C. 2), while here it is declared to refer to baptism for the dead. Translations and revelations become more and more tools to the Prophet's momentary purposes. 46
45 D.C. 118:18.
46 See on pp. 115 f., below, how Joseph defended himself as prophet against his enemies by "translating" scripture.
[ 69 ]
During the translation of the Book of Mormon Rigdon decided to translate the Bible. This was undoubtedly suggested
by the Disciples' translation of the N.T., printed in 1826, which taught Campbellite theology by substituting
"immersion" for baptism." This venture, involving elements of play and an opportunity to give divine sanction to
one's ideas, had two practical benefits. It gave Smith and Rigdon an occupation for the time when they were not
busied with administration, and made it possible to give divine commands, explanations, and promises without resort
to the overworked and not yet well-polished method of producing an oracle in regard to every problem as it arose.
As the work on the Book of Mormon drew to a close God told Cowdery to aid in translating the Bible. But he threatened
Joseph's power and so was given missionary work, and Joseph's wife served as scribe. Three months later, when Rigdon
dared at last to openly join the movement, God made him scribe and promised to give the scriptures, "even as they are
in mine own bosom." 2 Luther, the reformer, gave the Bible to the people, but Smith, the restorer, was to
restore its divine purity. Rigdon's influence stands out in the literary production which at once began. The manuscript
of the translation was in his handwriting, 3 and it was filled with his ideas.
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own identity as the Book of Moses. Apparently the translators were uncertain as to how it should be regarded. In the Pearl of Great Price it is referred to as "revealed to Joseph Smith," whereas in the inspired version of the Bible only the first chapter, a dramatic and synthetic Preface, is a "Revelation," and the remainder loses its identity as part of Genesis. In explaining some mummies and papyri which be had acquired (cf. p. 102), Smith pointed out Abraham's handwriting, lines written by Aaron, Moses' autograph, and "the earliest account of the Creation from which Moses composed the First Book of Genesis." On this was a crude drawing of a man and woman and a serpent walking on a pair of legs. When a visitor doubted the propriety of the latter, Smith replied: "Why, that's as plain as a pikestaff. Before the Fall, snakes always went about on legs, just like chickens. They were deprived of them in punishment for their agency in the ruin of man." 4 This interpretation of Gen. 3:14 illustrates the way Mormon theology developed. However, this account was discarded and the intriguing picture lost, because the book had been written before the papyri were obtained.
VISIONS OF MOSESThe Book of Moses is introduced as the words God spoke to Moses when he was in an exceedingly high mountain and "saw God face to face." 5 God tells him that he is in similitude of the Only Begotten, 6 and the similitude is carried out in striking detail, for after the vision 'Satan tempts him saying, "worship me," and Moses answers as did Jesus. A number of N.T. elements then appear: "And it came to pass that Satan cried with
4 Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past, pp. 386 f.
5 Probably influenced by Exod. 33:11. When the translators came to "no man hath seen, nor can see" God (I Tim. 6:16) they changed it to: "only he who hath the light and hope of immortality in him" has seen God. Appears also in D.C. 67:11. Similarly, God's statement in Exod. 33:20 is changed by inserting the italicized words: "Thou canst not see my face at this time, lest.... I destroy thee.... for there shall no man among them see me at this time, and live, for they are exceeding sinful." Smith declared that the day would soon come when no one would be allowed to preach who had not seen the Lord (Linn, op. cit., p. 138).
6 Cf. Deut. 18:15 and Acts 3:22.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 71
a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing and gnashing of teeth," and after he departed Moses "lifted up his eyes unto heaven," like Stephen, "being filled with the Holy Ghost," and received God's blessing (cf. Matt. 28:20): "And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days." Again Moses beheld the earth, and God explained that he created it by "the word of my power.... which is mine Only Begotten Son." This is a surprising misinterpretation of Jac. 4:9, which refers to the spoken word and not Christ. The Preface closes with a command that Moses write the things God tells him and with a prophecy that after evil men shall have taken many words from the book a man "like unto thee" 7 will restore it. Then follow God's "words" to Moses, several altered chapters of Genesis. Since God is speaking, the account is changed to the first person ("And I, God"), but to be consistent was too difficult; so after three chapters the story slips back into the third person. The Book of Mormon had treated the fall of the devil in Miltonian fashion; so before the temptation story this is presented in dramatic form. Satan offers to be the son and "redeem all mankind," 8 and asks in return God's power. But Jesus who was chosen said, as in the Lord's Prayer, "Father thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." Lucifer then rebelled and was "cast down: and he became Satan." 9 He put it "into the heart of the serpent" to tempt Eve because, as figured out in II Ne. 2:18, he wanted company in his misery. After the fall he urged men not to believe God's revelations and instituted the Masonic lodge. This had been charged in Hel. 6:27 but here is elaborated. To the imagination of anti-Masonry, "oaths" embodied all that was "irreligious and depraved." 10 Accordingly Satan is made to say to Cain: "Swear unto me by
7 Re comparison of Smith to Moses see p. 116, below.
8 Apparently based on II Cor. 11:14 which appears in II Ne. 9:9. In Moses 1:19 Satan claims to be "the Only Begotten."
9 These reflections of the "war in heaven" (Rev. 12:7) are taken from D.C. 29:36, written shortly before. The rest of this material is from II Ne. 4:18 where Rev. 12:9 and John 8:44 are thus reconstructed.
10 Goodwin, Additional Studies in Mormonism and Masonry, p. 14.
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thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not." The form of the oath comes from Ether 8:14 where oaths are made peculiarly damnable by using the specific objects of reference which Jesus forbids in Matt. 5:34-36. And Cain said: "Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan," a transparent alteration of Master Mason. 11 Lamech became a Master Mahan and slew Irad because Irad revealed the secret. "Thus from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination." The masculinity of the lodge comically appears in the statement that these things were kept from women because Lamech's wives rebelled against him when he told them the secret. 12
THE PROPHECY OF ENOCHThe important part of the Book of Moses is a nine-page insertion between Gen. 5:21 and 23, originally written as a distinct book, The Prophecy of Enoch. It is unrelated to the apocryphal Book of Enoch and presents the doctrine of a holy city. The location of the church was a pressing problem, and it was decided to merge the New York saints with Rigdon's fold in Kirtland, but this was no slight task. To win part of the emotional element in a day of emotionalistic sects was one matter, but to make people give up home and neighbors and move with considerable expense to a place where uncertainty awaited them required a more striking gesture than usual. This was accomplished by telling them that, as with old Israel, a promised land was being prepared, a veritable New Jerusalem which would come down from heaven. This idea, taken from Rev. 21:,2 had been used as a prophecy of the Mormon restoration in Ether 13:3. Joseph and Sidney wondered how the New Jerusalem got up into heaven. The "translation of Enoch" (Heb. 11:5) suggested the answer, being already applied to an
11 Moses 5:31. Mormons too have noticed this. In Zion's Advocate, VIII, 5, one says: "How like, 'Master Mason.'"
12 Moses 5:33. The Masonic controversy also left traces in D.C. 42:64, 117:11 -- combinations and abominations.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 73
Indian saint in Ether 15:34. Smith remarked that Jude, chapter 14, quotes the prophecy of Enoch as saying that the Lord will come with 10,000 saints. 13 These were citizens of the city of Enoch, mentioned in Gen. 4:17, were taken to heaven with Enoch, and will come back with the Lord. This glorious promise was given out before the rest of the Book of Moses was completed. Later a half-chapter of "prophecy" was added Moses 6:26-68), since this is only an "extract," and it was inserted in the Book of Moses, but it still appears as a separate book in the Doctrine and Covenants of the Reorganized church.
The prophecy begins with Enoch's call. The Spirit of God descended out of heaven and urged: "Enoch my son, prophesy. "Like Moses he complained: "I am slow of speech," but God made him a seer by having him anoint his eyes with clay and wash them. 14 He then preached to the people that to inherit the kingdom of God they must repent and be baptized, after which whatsoever they ask will be given. Those who believed built "the City of Holiness, even Zion." Enoch had a vision of the history of salvation, including the flood, crucifixion, and the digging up of the Book of Mormon by people living in a new Zion. "Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there," said God, "And there shall be mine abode." And it came to pass that Enoch's Zion "was not," for God received it "into his own bosom." With the point thus driven home, the book needed only a little more of Genesis to serve as a conclusion. Such a revelation must be tucked nicely into a proper setting.
A couple of months later God promised to reveal the location of Zion, and some of the saints were sent to search for it. They found cheap land in Missouri; so God commanded them to assemble there. 15 When they arrived, six months after the book was written, it was revealed that Independence was the "center place" of Zion, and the spot for the temple was given. 16 The
13 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, History of the Church, I, 163.
14 Moses 6:26 ff. Cf. call with Matt. 3:16, reply with Exod. 4:10, anointing with John 9:6-7, on which they are based.
15 D.C. 52:42. Cf. also D.C. 42:8-9.
16 D.C. 57:3. On dedication of land cf. E. E. Ericksen, Psychological and Ethical Aspects of Mormon Group Life (1922), p. 18.
74 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
saints began to move there and their visionary hopes so alarmed their neighbors that they drove them out of the county and eventually from Missouri. Consequently the leaders remained at Kirtland for six years. They went to Missouri, a short while before the Mormons were expelled, only when they had to flee from "Gentiles" and Mormons who were embittered over loss of money in Smith's unchartered bank.
But the "gathering" had taken deep root. For the leaders Zion meant possibility for tremendous economic exploitation -- it was communistic -- and after God's declarations concerning Zion and the approaching millennium, 17 the people likewise held tenaciously to this hope. God gave them a "new song" in imitation of the Psalms to sing in that glorious day:
The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel,
According to the election of grace....
And Satan is bound and time is no longer.
The Lord hath gathered all things in one.
The Lord hath brought down Zion from above.
The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.
The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength;
And truth is established in her bowels;
And the heavens have smiled upon her;
And she is clothed with the glory of her God;
For he stands in the midst of his people.
Glory, and honor, and power, and might,
Be ascribed to our God; for he is full of mercy,
Justice, grace and truth, and peace,
Forever and ever, Amen. 18
When God's promise that Zion should never be moved, 19 so dismally failed, the Saints interpreted this to mean that they must some day return to Missouri, a duty which most branches of Mormondom have tried to carry out. This Zionic ideal is fundamental. E. E. Ericksen insists that Mormonism's conflict
17 God told Smith: "if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man," upon which Smith commented that he thought the millennium would hardly come before then, 1890 (D.C. 130:15 ff.).
18 D.C. 84:99-102. God's interest in hymns appeared previously when he told Smith's wife to select hymns (D.C. 25:11).
19 D.C. 90:37, 101:17.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 75
with Gentiles is due to its reversion from Christian to Jewish ideals of being a chosen people, called from among the heathen to a promised land where God's ordinances are to be practiced. 20 Mormons would deny this on the ground that N.T. ordinances must have been had by Israel and that O.T. ideas (priestly, sacrificial, and kingly) must be included in the New. But this insistence on the eternity of "ordinances" tended toward greater emphasis on the O.T. with the result that Mormonism consciously calls itself "Israel." The New Jerusalem of the N.T. was converted into an O.T. promised land for the saints alone a priestly kingdom aspiring to universal dominion. This will be consummated by divine intervention. Jesus will purify the earth when he comes with Enoch's saints, perhaps aided by the lost ten tribes of Israel. Smith is said to have revealed that the city of Enoch was where the Gulf of Mexico is and that God made of that land a separate planet. When it was taken away the "vacuum" started the Gulf Stream. Similarly the ten tribes are on a star -- which was pointed out -- taken from the north polar region. After the millennium these planets and the earth will be the respective homes of the three heavenly kingdoms. 21
THE HISTORY OF THE TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLEImmediately after the production of the Book of Moses all efforts were required to move the New York saints to Kirtland, Ohio. 22 Further work on the Bible waited for nearly a year; but it was not forgotten, for the Lord promised to reveal more concerning the millennium in it. 23 In September, 1831, the work was taken up again but repeatedly interrupted, especially by
20 Ericksen, op. cit., pp. 15 ff.
21 Re kingdoms see below, p. 77. Above facts are taken from a "Narration by Patriarch Brown" of Salt Lake City to T. Tobason, October, 1924, procured through O. F. Bloomfield of the Utah church. It is not well known but probably correct. Smith told these facts to Brown's grandfather shortly before he died. This agrees with a number of other traditions (cf. below, p. 77), though adding to them. Thus Eliza R. Snow, one of Smith's wives, wrote in a hymn that the ten tribes are on a separate planet. The Morrisites had the same tradition (cf. below, p. 187).
22 Cf. D.C. 37.
23 D.C. 45:60.
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long church conferences. Much of the time that was devoted to literary work was employed in producing revelations. By December the opposition had become so vigorous, especially at Ravenna where Ezra Booth, a former Mormon, was writing, that the Lord told Joseph and Sidney to "confound" their enemies. 24 Their preaching did much to counteract the "scandalous communications to the press"; so after about six weeks the Lord told them to translate again." 25 The work was dropped again in April for a couple of months when Joseph fled to Missouri after a mob tarred him and attempted to force a bottle of aqua fortis down his throat.
The translating during this period is evidenced interestingly in revelations. It was an insistent doctrine of Mormonism that little children are sinless, and so the translators were aroused by I Cor. 7:14, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his wife.... else were your children unclean... The divine explanation 26 is that Jewish husbands taught their children the law of Moses, which said that l ittle children are unholy. But this is wrong since they are "sanctified through the atonement of Christ." Therefore Paul wrote that no one should marry a Jew unless he first becomes sanctified, i.e., gives up the law of Moses.
A few days later the translators came to John 5:29 which speaks of the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation. For a while Smith lived with Joseph Knight, a Universalist, who reasoned "calmly with him" -- and the word damnation seemed a little severe. Accordingly "just" and "unjust" are Substituted, following Luke 14:14, for "life" and "damnation." If unjust people aren't damned, then what awaits them? To the translators it appeared "self-evident" that heaven "must include more kingdoms than one." While they meditated, the Lord gave them a five-page vision, 27 mostly in the terminology of the Apocalypse.
First it made clear that the only ones who shall not he redeemed are the "sons of perdition" who defy God, but they
24 D.C. 71:1, 7.
25 D.C. 73:3.
26 D.C. 74.
27 D.C. 76.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 77
shall indeed receive punishment which is everlasting, endless, eternal. Heaven, then, is modeled on I Cor. 15:40. Obviously, those who go to the "celestial" heaven are "they who are come unto Mount Zion." Christians go to the "terrestrial" heaven which differs from the Mormon heaven as the moon from the sun. But a new heaven had to be created, the "telestial," for those "who received not the Gospel of Christ," whose glory is only as that of the stars. This "telestial" heaven is written into the Bible. The Prophet is claimed to have drawn a diagram of three planets, one representing our earth, and another being the residence of the lost tribes of Israel. 28 At another time he revealed that the third is the home of Enoch and his city. 29 Since God has revealed that this earth will become like crystal and will be the home of the celestial kingdom. 30 Mormons have concluded that Christians will possess the planet occupied by the lost tribes, and that the heathen will be on the planet of Enoch. 31
Another by-product of the translating is D.C. 77, in which puzzles in Revelation are dealt with by the catechetical method. 32 The explanations are of little significance. An example is 5 Q. What are we to understand by the four and twenty elders, spoken of by John? A. We are to understand that these elders... had been faithful in the work of the ministry and were dead...."
When the translators came to the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew they made it refer to the millennium. But to make it clear, D.C. 86 was written explaining that the angels can hardly wait to burn up the Gentile tares who persecute the church. Within a year the Saints were driven out of Zion from which God had promised that they should never be moved. To make good His word God decreed that the harvest time had come, when the wheat was to be secured and the tares
28 Cf. F. M. Darter, The Time of the End, p. 134.
29 Cf. above, p. 75.
30 D.C. 88:18, 130:9.
31 Darter, op. cit., pp. 137 f. He guessed the city of Enoch might be on the third, did not know the Prophet said so.
32 Another such series is D.C. 113, written later on Isaiah.
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burned. In a parable He commanded a nobleman (Smith) to gather his warriors and go and redeem the vineyard (Zion) by arms. Smith went to Missouri with quite a military force but became frightened and disbanded the camp upon arriving there. The Lord accommodatingly explained that Zion's camp had failed because of transgression and that the redemption would have to wait a little while, until the army became "very great" and her banners "terrible unto all nations." 33
While ideas suggested by translating thus grew into importance, the translation itself was finished. By February, 1833, the N.T. was completed and the MS sealed to be opened in Zion. Five months later the O.T. was finished. Scarcely knowing what, to do with the Apocrypha and wearied of such work Rigdon and Smith had God rule that they need not be translated. Whoever has the Spirit can understand them as they are and who ever does not have the Spirit "cannot be benefited" anyway. 34
God commanded that a house be built in Kirtland for "the printing of my scriptures," but the stirring history of the next decade prevented further action. When the church buildings were planned in Nauvoo the Lord ordered William Law, a man of some means to "publish the new translation of my holy word..." 35 But in three dramatic years the prophet was dead and the saints were confronted with such problems that all thought of the translation was banished.
When Joseph's eldest son became prophet of the Reorganized church in 1860 the translated Bible was seen as a means of strengthening its claim to being the true church. On April 10, 1866, the church resolved to publish it. 36 Accordingly the manuscript was procured from Joseph's widow, and was printed at Plano, Illinois, in 1867. All these years it had been in her keeping,
33 D.C. 103:11, 101:64, 43 ff., 103:15, 32, 105:9, 31; Jules Remy, A Journey to Great-Salt-Lake City (1861), I, 298.
34 D.C. 91.
35 D.C. 124:83-90.
36 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., III, 430.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 79
and so her prophet son wrote a poem "To the Elect Lady," which appeared in The Elect Lady, a eulogistic pamphlet.
Are placed within the hands of Israel's host,
My father, smiling on his earthly son,
Will shout the victory over Death and Hell;
And pointing with his spirit hand to earth,
Will ask the Master is my crown now won,
Through faithful ministry of wife and son?"
All this time Brigham's followers were using the New Translation as a pretext. Remy wrote at that time, "They twist its [the Bible's] text as often as it suits them; and when it is objected that they do not put the same sense upon it as the Christians, they get rid of the difficulty by saying that.... it is necessary to have recourse to the version made by Joseph Smith the existence of which Remy doubted. 37 When the translation was published, this was no longer possible. It may be that disappointment over its failure to contain their own doctrine may have accentuated the ill-feeling directed toward the Reorganized church. Brigham heatedly said that the "Elect Lady" 38 was a liar, “yes, the damndest liar that lives," and that she had altered the manuscript. This accusation seems utterly groundless, and the Reorganized church replied that God promised to preserve it in safety. 39
In 1868, J. W. Briggs stated that Brigham Young had tried every means to get the manuscript of the translation. 40 What Brigham would have done with it is impossible to say. He might have published it, destroyed it, or put it where it could cause no more trouble. He might even have brought it up to
37 Remy, op. cit., II, 41.
38 D.C. 25:3 told Emma she was "an elect lady," suggested by II John, chap. 1; so this was her title in the Reorganized church.
39 D.C. 42:56. Cf. Joseph Smith, III, To The Elect Lady (1867). Comically the original revelation (B.C. 44:43) had an entirely different meaning: "and for thy safety it is expedient that thou shouldest hold thy peace concerning them, until ye have received them;" Perhaps Joseph had been making promises about them which would be difficult to fulfil.
40 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., III, 504.
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date in doctrine. He seems to have given up his accusation that the manuscript had been altered, saying that while it had been completed Joseph decided to perfect it on "points of doctrine which the Lord had retrained him from giving in plainness and fullness at the time." 41 The Utah church was in an awkward situation; so it may be that this reputed statement is a fabricated basis for the rejection of the translation, but it harmonizes perfectly with the general situation. The doctrines of most importance during Smith's last years were polygamy and polytheism, and it would have been a golden opportunity lost if material justifying them had not been inserted. Once he remarked that when Solomon asked wisdom "God gave it to him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understood the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right, because God gave and sanctioned them by special revelation." 42 Joseph undoubtedly intended to change the criticism of Solomon's polygamy (I Kings, chapter 11), revealing that the 700 wives were taken under divine direction. Revision must also have applied to Mark 10:7 ff.: the stories of Lamech, Abraham., Isaac, Jacob, David et al. In regard to polytheism it would have been more difficult. Inspired monotheistic and polytheistic revisions of some of the same chapters of Genesis can somehow exist side by side in the Pearl of Great Price, but it would have been very difficult to supplant the monotheistic by the polytheistic. Joseph's failure to publish the translation may have been due to this. 43
In repudiating the inspired version Brigham once said emphatically, "King James' Bible is my Bible; I know of none other," and he seemed to regard even its language as divine. "The English tongue," he said, "is a holy form of speech." 44
41 George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith (1888), p. 142.
42 Linn, op. cit., p. 279.
43 Cf. also Zion's Advocate, VIII, 5.
44 W. H. Dixon, New America (1867), p. 154. Similarly the Council of Trent declared the Vulgate authoritative for the text, and the Catholic church defended the sacramental view of marriage by reference to sacramentum in Eph. 5:32, an incorrect translation of mysterion.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 81
Nevertheless what to do with the inspired version has remained a problem for the Brighamite church. The assertion that Joseph intended to revise the translation is now twisted into the claim that it "was never fully completed." Yet they admit that many "precious things" are therein contained, and at times find it practicable to use it. 45 If it corrects errors in the Bible, than to reject it merely because it is incomplete indicates a sectarian spirit.
NATURE OF THE REVISION OF THE BIBLECertain parts of the Bible, chiefly parts of Isaiah, Malachi, and Matthew, had appeared in the Book of Mormon and were, therefore, presumably correctly translated. Malachi and most of Isaiah are only slightly altered in both Book of Mormon and inspired version, but in both Isaiah, chapter 29, contains an elaborate prophecy of the Book of Mormon. 46 On the other hand, the Sermon on the Mount is considerably different in the new translation from that in the Book of Mormon. It too addresses the sermon to the apostles instead of to the multitude, and III Ne. 12:2 is inserted, but otherwise the two inspired versions are quite dissimilar. Not long before this was translated, Smith had sent the elders out for house-to-house proselyting, and some complained. Accordingly, Jesus asks in an insertion: "Why is it ye murmur.... because ye have not all these things (food, clothes, etc.), and seek to excuse yourselves?" An addition more amusing, if less important, is "Rabcah" in: "whosoever shall say.... Raca, or Rabcah, shall be in danger of the council" (Matt. 5:22).
The O.T. is only slightly altered, apart from the Book of Moses, though the Song of Solomon is omitted because of its oriental artistry. A. B. Phillips of the Reorganized church suggests that, while not inspired, it would probably rank with some
45 Thus J. F. Smith, Essentials in Church History, p. 22, Uses it to make Amos 3:7 predictive of Mormon prophets. Words in italics are those Smith substituted for those in parentheses: Surely.... God will do nothing (but) until he revealeth (his) the secret unto his servants the prophets. Cf. also pp. 138 ff.
46 There are many minor alterations of Isaiah in the B.M., followed in the translation, but with exceptions, especially in chap. 48.
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of the apocrypha. 47 Other than this the O.T. is materially changed only in Genesis, a few Psalms, and Isaiah. The changes in Isaiah are mostly those which had appeared in the Book of Mormon. The changes in the Psalms (chapters 11-16, 24, 36, 46, 53) all refer to establishment of the Mormon Zion or the ensuing millennium. From the Book of Moses (Gen. 6:14) to chapter 10, chapter division is changed, and to chapter 24 versing is altered. 48 To this point there are numerous unimportant textual changes, but the rest of Genesis is untouched except for the last chapter where verse 24 is split by a page of prophecy. In II Ne. 3, Joseph in Egypt prophesies about Joseph Smith; so here this prophecy is put in his mouth. There are a number of changes in the prophecy. In the Book of Mormon Joseph foretells that the Mormon prophet shall be called after him and after his father. Perhaps this seemed inconsistent in afterthought. At any rate the revised version names him only after the elder Smith. 49
It is in the N.T. that results of translating are prominent, some clearly devised for effect, particularly the arbitrary change in numbering. 50 In the first three gospels versing is scarcely ever standard, but this task was too tedious and from there on was abandoned. 51 Correspondingly, most textual changes are in the Gospels and in Revelation. Many merely aim at an impressive style. Thus in John 1:1 logos is translated "gospel" through modern use of "the word" as a designation of Bible and gospel: "In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son,
47 Letter dated October 1, 1829.
48 Versing and chapters in rest of O.T. is that of standard text. Exceptions; Exod. 6:29 ff.; Psalm 124; Isa., chaps. 4, 50.
49 Linn thought the object of the translation the insertion of this prophecy, and did not realize the importance of other changes. Another change in the prophecy: what Lehi says prefacing it is here incorporated in the prophecy itself.
50 Matt., chap. 1, is divided into two chapters. To correct subsequent numbering the next two chapters are combined. Only other change of chapters -- Mark, chap. 9, begins with vs. 2; chap. 8 includes vs. 1.
51 But for a half dozen verse shiftings the only changes are in first part of John, and in one chapter each of Romans, Hebrews, and Revelation.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 83
and the Son was with God." Later (D.C. 93:8) this was contradicted by calling. Christ "the Word"; and even in the prologue the translators were inconsistent, for they were unable to make the gospel become flesh. All this differs widely from John's verbatim "record" in D.C. 93.
The changes in the Bible fall into three groupings: those referring to Mormonism, those advocating doctrine, and a large residue which may be classified as non-doctrinal. Other than those already mentioned, references to Mormonism are infrequent. Isa. 37:32 tells how "they that escape out of Jerusalem shall come up upon mount Zion" and become Indians. Among non-doctrinal changes it is noteworthy that few attempts were made at improvement of the translation, and they are mostly substitutions of modern words for archaic as "before" for "ere." Some crudities were eliminated. In Gen. 24:16 the reference is changed from Rebekah's sexual purity to her beauty by insertion of words in italics: "neither had any man known the like unto her." Following the annunciation (Luke 1:34) Mary does not ask,, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" but simply, "How can this be?" and the angel replies, "Of the Holy Ghost." Similarly, the incest of Lot's daughters is branded as immoral.
The translators tackled the problem of gospel harmony. Luke's treatment of Jesus' boyhood and of the repentant thief are put in Matthew, and the death of Judas is elaborated according to Acts 1:18. In Matthew and Mark the priests' objection to the title "King of the Jews" is taken from John, and Matthew's account of the restoration of the high priest's servant's ear is put in Mark. In the resurrection story the two men from Luke become angels (in Matthew there is one angel) sitting on the stone which they have rolled back. 52 Other non-doctrinal changes are mostly the rounding out of incomplete statements. Comparison with O.T. texts proves many to be
52 Acts 9:7 which records that Paul's companions at his conversion heard a voice but saw no one is changed according to Acts 22:9 where they see a light but hear nothing.
84 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
incorrect. 53 The translators made Rom. 13:6 stimulate giving, changing governmental taxes to church dues.
As in the Book of Mormon many theological issues of the day leave their impress. 54 Mormonism's views on the sacraments and such problems as predestination appear. On the basis of Heb. 7:11-12 it was held that the Aaronic priesthood came into existence when the Melchisedek priesthood was taken away due to sin. God no longer appeared "face to face" with men but communicated with them through the Urim and Thummim, for sinners cannot bear his presence. 55 Theory was made fact by inserting this in Exod. 34:1-2, after the sin of the golden calf. "I will take away the (Melchisedek) priesthood.... for my presence shall not go up in their midst, lest I destroy them. But I will give unto them .... the law of a carnal (Aaronic) commandment...."
Theological presuppositions likewise appear. It is not God but Pharaoh who hardens Pharoah's heart, and the Lord's Prayer is changed to, "suffer us not to be led into temptation." The Spirit did not lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted but "to be with God," and it seemed to threaten his divinity to let the devil put him on the pinnacle of the temple; so the Spirit is made to do so. Mormons will not grant that evil spirits can do God's will (corrected in I Samuel, chapters 16, 18, etc.). In I Sam. 15:11 God is not allowed to repent that he made Saul king, for that did not harmonize with the Mormon insistence on His changelessness. In contrast to later polytheism, God's absolute oneness is portrayed. "Gods" in Exod. 22:28 is changed, as in modern versions, to "God." In Job the councils in heaven are changed to councils between God and men.
In Gen. 6:1-2 it is not "sons of God" but wicked "sons of men" who marry women and beget giants. Lest Luke 3:38 confuse
53 Smith misunderstood Heb. 6:1: "If man leaves the principles.... of Christ how can he be saved....?" "I will render it as it should be -- "therefore not leaving the principles of Christ....’" (Parry, Joseph Smith's Teachings, p. 154). (Italics mine.) The text was thus changed.
54 R. Etzenhouser, Three Bibles Compared, gives Mormon and Gentile versions of many doctrinal passages in parallel columns.
55 Cf. Joseph B. Keeler, The Lesser Priesthood (1904), pp. 4-5.
BOOK OF MOSES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE 85
human and divine, Adam is there stated to be "formed of God" instead of "son of God."
Since Father and Son appeared to Smith the statements that no man can see God were corrected in Exod. 33:20, John 1:18, 1 John 4:12. 56 A God who is bodily could obviously not dwell in a post, as Gen. 28:22 seems to imply. Accordingly, not Jacob's pillar but a church to be erected there will be God's house. All traces of humanity are taken from the person of Christ. "When Jesus knew" is consistently changed to "Now Jesus knew." Influenced by Luke's account of Jesus' boyhood but more like the apocryphal gospels, Matt. 3:25 (revised) says: "neither could he be taught: for he needed not that any man should teach him." This stands in strange contrast to this later statement by President Joseph F. Smith: "Even Christ himself was not perfect at first: he received not a fulness at first..." 57 But when the N.T. was "translated," the divine attributes were not procreation and development but absoluteness and self-existence. 58
When the new translation was printed, Isaac Sheen heralded it in a pamphlet entitled Great Contrast, pointing out improvements. Since then it seems to have dwindled in importance, although many editions have been printed. It is commonly quoted but has not displaced the standard text in popular usage. In the church catalogue fifteen times more space advertises other bibles than the inspired one.
56 Cf. also above, p. 70, concerning theophany.
57 Gospel Doctrine, Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith (4th ed., 1928), p. 83.
58 A fairy-tale tendency apparent in much of this carried into other realms, as when Luke is made to say (3:19), "For it is well known unto you, Theophilus..." Cf. Luke 1:3.
[ 86 ]
Even before the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed, situations arose which made it necessary for the Lord to speak immediately and definitely. Such problems increased rather than decreased after its publication and it did not prove very applicable to them, being only a sort of "photograph album containing astonishing pictures of the first families of America." 1 So revelations came in rapid succession directing the organization of the church, urging Harris to pay the printer, calling and admonishing elders. In 1831 it was decided to print them as a Book of Commandments. 2 This had long been contemplated, for by July, 1830, Smith began to arrange and copy the twenty-seven oracles received to date. 3 But David Whitmer and others opposed Smith and Rigdon "to the face," arguing that God never meant them to be printed. Being almost exclusively personal admonitions it was denied that they had general value, and it was thought dangerous to let the Gentiles see them. Smith warned that any who persisted in this opposition would lose his part in the Tree of Life and the Holy City. 4 The reason for his insistence became apparent a few days later when God ordained that he, Rigdon, and a few others were to receive the profits from the book's sale as "a reward of their diligence." 5 Three thousand copies were to be printed. In the next revelation they were even allowed to call on the bishops for financial aid in this undertaking.
1 I. W. Riley, "The Sacred Books of the Mormons," The Bookman, XX, No. 1, 80.
2 God chose the name, calling it "Book of My Commandments" (B.C. 1:2). In the D.C. this is printed without capitals so that God's selection of this title will be less prominent, and the change in name less inexcusable (D.C. 1:6).
3 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, History of the Church, I, 113.
4 D. Whitmer, In Address to all Believers (1926 repr.), p. 68.
5 D.C. 70:5-8, 15.
BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS 87
Much of the objection was based on criticism of the oracles themselves. But God told the conference that unless someone could write a revelation "like unto" them it must approve their printing, and quit pointing out their imperfections in language. 6 W. E. McLellin accepted the challenge and tried to write a better revelation) but pious historians tell of his "humiliating failure." 7 Knowing of McLellin's opposition Smith had written a revelation a few days before, rebuking him quite severely. 8 Copies of the revelations, kept by Cowdery, were made and taken to Missouri. By July, 1833, the forms were nearly all set up and a number of sheets were struck off, but when the Mormons refused to leave the county a mob destroyed the printing plant. The printed sheets were thrown in a log stable from where a saint rescued them at considerable risk. 9 Five sheets had been printed, 32 pages to a sheet. These were bound by the Mormons, and several copies of the incomplete work have survived. Reprints are procurable. 10
The book is the size of a pocket Testament and would have sold at 25-50 cents. 11 It ends on page 160, with "blood of Ephraim" from the middle of verse 36 of D.C. 64. This section was numbered 65 in the B.C. which contained only S8 of the present sections. 12 Linn accepted D. Whitmer's statement that
6 D.C. 67:6.
7 J. F. Smith, Essentials in Church History, p. 141.
8 "Commit not adultery -- a temptation with which thou hast been troubled" (D.C. 66:10). In striking parallel Mohammed placed such a challenge in the mouth of Allah. The McLellin of Islam was Nadhr ibn al 'Hareth who purchased some Persian legends and read them as rivaling the Koran. Mohammed is reported to have executed him. Cf. Sura XI, 16, and XXXI, 5 n., in Palmer's translation, and D. S. Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, 3d ed., p. 134.
9 Cf. N. L. Morris, Prophecies of J. Smith (1926), pp. 24 f.
10 W. W. Smith, The Book of Doctrine and Covenants, p. 13, claimed to know of twelve originals. The New York Public Library has one; Emma Hale Memorial Library, three; Library of Congress, one (pp. 17-18 gone); Utah church historian's office, one. F. M. Smith, John J. Snyder, and Vida E. Smith Yates each have one. An unlocated copy is thought to be in Utah, and H. C. Smith had one which disappeared at the time of his death. S. A. Burgess writes that a copy was sold in 1920 at the Barnes sale (Philadelphia) which might be this one. The Salt Lake Tribune published a reprint in 1884 and the Hedrickites in 1926.
11 Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 1, No. 12.
12 Seventeen to twenty-one are now 23, 31-33 now 30, 44 and 47 now 42. The book consisted of D.C. 1-64 with 2, 13, 17, 32, 51, and 57 omitted.
88 REVELATION IN MORMONISM
it was printed complete, copyrighted, and distributed, 13 but Whitmer was not there at the time. The book was copyrighted, but at that time copyrighting was done by title-page and several months were allowed for filing a complete copy. That it was not completed is shown by the omission of revelations which should have been included, most imperatively the Appendix, and, by its abrupt ending in the middle of a section and verse, as indicated by (1) subsequent publication of the complete section, (2) lack of the customary concluding "Amen," and (3) the fact that the book ends with a completely filled five sheets, (160 pages), an otherwise almost unbelievable coincidence. 14
God provided the book with a special Preface which with quite a flourish calls upon all peoples to "listen together" to these words of wisdom. The corresponding "Appendix" (D.C. 133) is one of the most unusual appendixes of history, never having been printed at the close of a book. The B.C. does not get that far and, subsequently, later revelations were tacked on after it. The first revelations indicate that oracular revelation was in an experimental stage. They lean heavily on the N.T. and are crudely repetitious. Thus 3 (U 4), 15 which encourages Smith's father and others to thrust the sickle into the harvest, borrows from Isa. 29:14, John 4:35, Rev. 14:15, I Cor. 13:13, and Matt. 7:7, and is inserted bodily in 5, 10, 11, and 12 (U 6, 11, 12, 14). Sections 13 and 14 (U 15, 16) are identical, except addressed to different men. Like other prophets, Smith had difficulty in making his oracles appear to be divine revealments, and like them put into God's mouth sayings which are acknowledged to be His, biblical passages. Gradually his oracles began to show a style of their own although the influence of the King James Bible remained dominant.
13 Linn, The Story of the Mormons, p. 112.
14 Some copies were sold, and Howe, Caswall, and Turner were acquainted with it (D. Macgregor, Changing of the Revelations, p. 15). But the book could have been sold though incomplete. Probably many copies were made, present scarcity being due to suppression. Clearly essential parts were not included, conceivable only on the basis of physical interference.
15 "U" refers to D.C. of Utah church, "R.D.C." to that of Reorganized church.
BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS 89
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTSIn the winter of 1834 it was realized that the oracles would had to be changed to allow for priestly changes which had been made. 16 On May 19, Smith laid his hands on Rigdon and Cowdery, blessing them for the task of "arranging the Church Covenants which are soon to be published." 17 He had no authority to make this decision but was engineering a dangerous undertaking. On September 24, he had his high council appoint a committee to "arrange the items of the doctrine.... for the government of the church." These items, to be taken "from the Bible, Book of Mormon and the Revelations," were to be the church law. The church conference, which should have originated this action, then "agreed to" it. 18 The next step was to get the committee to sanction the "corrections." Cowdery told how Rigdon "by smooth talk" persuaded him and F. G. Williams (Smith was the fourth) "that it was all right." 19
Instead of selecting items on government, they prepared a falsified Book of Commandments under the title Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Commandments (44:51) declared itself a sufficient law for the church, but room was made for the Doctrine and Covenants by changing this to promise "church covenants" which "shall be sufficient." 20 No selections were made from the Bible or Book of Mormon but all oracles thought worthy of publication were included. To make it appear that a selection had been made, as directed, these were jumbled unchronologically and those bearing on the priesthood were put at the front (U 20, 107, 84, 102). The revelations were preceded by "Lectures on Theology" which formed almost a third of the book. 21 The only recognition of the purpose of the work was
16 Macgregor, op. cit., p. 23. Mohammed, too, changed oracles. In Sura II, 100, God states. "Whatever verse we may annul or cause thee to forget, we will bring a better one than it...."
17 Times and Seasons, VI, 1058 f.; Macgregor, op. cit., p. 29.
18 Millennial Star, XV, 183; Macgregor, op. cit., pp. 28 f.
19 Saints' Herald (1887), p. 93; Macgregor, op. cit., p. 33.
20 D.C. 42:67.
21 The lectures, by Rigdon, were eventually removed, perhaps because of reference to the B.C., and printed separately by the Reorganized church. Cf. pp. 35, 36, 40.
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the inclusion of sections (not revelations) denying the charge of polygamy (R.D.C. 111) and expressing belief in civil government (U 134). 22 Pen and scissors were used on the revelations with amazing freedom. One man counted 1,399 words added and, 268 left out in ten oracles. 23 Some changes aimed at literary polish, 24 but most delegated power and authority to the higher officers of the priesthood. In the original church the only officers were elders, but in 1833 a first presidency was organized and in 1834 a high council. B.C. 24, entitled "Articles and Covenants,” was the constitution of the church,, outlining the duties of various officers. It was unthinkable that God would have forgotten to include the highest offices of the Priesthood in this document; so they were written into it (D.C. 20:65-67), in spite of the fact that it was written years before these offices were thought of. 25
With their offices thus sanctioned, Smith and his colleagues appropriated power for them. They transferred control of finances from the elders to the high council. The gathering at Zion was to be directed by the presidency instead of by the elders. 26 A revelation which had appeared in the Evening and Morning Star and would have been in the Book of Commandments had it been completed was changed to provide that only the presidency could try bishops, instead of the high priests. 27 Thus was the law of common consent (D.C. 26:2, 28:13) displaced. It was recognized that the innovations were not scriptural, for a passage was removed in which God had promised to establish his church like unto "the days of old." 28
22 Cf. R.D.C. index for location of sections in all editions.
23 Macgregor, op. cit., p. 6.
24 Cf. B.C. 3:2 with D.C. 4:6.
25 To make it appear that the revelation was given at the time of the founding of the church and in entirety, the date was removed and it was placed as the second oracle in the book, immediately after the Preface. The title was removed because it contained the name "church of Christ"; so when a Mormon reads in D.C. 42:13 that he should observe "the covenants and church articles," he does not know it refers to this oracle, and thinks the D.C. is meant.
26 B.C. 44:29, D.C. 42:34; and B.C. 51:6, D.C. 48:6.
27 D.C. 68:22. Cf. Macgregor, op. cit., pp. 22 f.
28 B.C. 4: S. Replaced by prediction of cholera. Cf. p. 127.
BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS 91
Some oracles were modified where the leaders' plans had appeared too transparently. God had promised to "consecrate the riches of the Gentiles" unto the Mormons, but in the revision he promises to take money from rich Mormons and give 'it to poor ones. Smith had been told to keep this mystery to himself, but when it was changed from sanctioned theft to charity the strictness of secrecy was lessened. 29 Nevertheless the revelation lived on in memory in its original sense. John Whitmer recorded how the Mormons at Nauvoo stole from the Gentiles, especially horses, and said: "God has said.... that he would consecrate the riches of the Gentiles to the House of Israel." They even justified thievery by polytheism, saying: "We are the Lords, and the earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, therefore these things are ours...." 30
Criticism of the changes was anticipated. Cowdery wrote, before the book appeared, that they had been surprised to find "the previous print so different from the original" manuscript. 31 But the changes could not have been accidental, as he implied. They are intentional and consistent. For example, in D.C. 5:2 f., not only is the restriction of Smith's gifts to translating made temporary to allow for later gifts, but God addresses "you, my servant Joseph," while in B.C. 4:2 he had addressed Harris. Cowdery could not have been deceived about these "corrections," for the original manuscript was in his own handwriting. When the work was done it was presented on August 17, 1835, to a general assembly for acceptance. It was offered as "Items or principles for the regulation of the church," and "articles of religious faith," taken from the revelations and expressed in "few words." 32 Actually it did not contain governmental items, was not a creed, did not consist of brief selections from the revelations. It was a new and falsified Book of Commandments. At the assembly neither time nor opportunity permitted
29 B.C. 44:32, D.C. 42:39, 65. For other changes see above, pp. 59, 66, 67, 79.
30 Book of John Whitmer, chap. xxi. Cf. Ps. 24:1.
31 Eve. and Morn. Star, January, 1835; W. W. Smith, op. cit., p. 14.
32 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., I, 578 f.
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examination of the book, and it was accepted on the basis of testimony to its truth. 33 The apostles were absent, but W. W. Phelps read a testimony for them which one of them later repudiated. Its practical identity with their testimony to the Book of Commandments and its mentioning the "Book of the Lord's Commandments" instead of the "Doctrine and Covenants" make it almost certain that it is a forgery based upon it. 34 When it became generally known what had been done, some people left the church. 35 Even two years later Wight, an apostle, was tried for saying that the D.C. was a telestial (pagan) law while the B.C. was a celestial (Mormon) law. 36 Even today the Reorganized church denies that changes were made other than of typographical or copyist errors, and in a case or two the insertion of items from later oracles in earlier ones. Cowdery himself used the latter excuse for the changes in D.C. 20. If this were true it would not excuse the many other changes, but actually the insertions are not from other oracles. 37 More honestly the Utah leaders admitted that the changes were made, claiming that they were inspired. "In this manner the Lord did truly give line upon line, here a little and there a little." 38
While the title "Doctrine and Covenants" was a means of deception, yet it was more appropriate. Early oracles were mostly commands, 39 but later ones were increasingly doctrinal, and much longer. Rigdon's influence appears, e.g., in D.C. 88 which has no unity but apes St. Paul's style. Doctrinal elements became prominent when translation of the Bible was begun. Doctrine in the Book of Commandments had been restricted to priesthood, millennial Zion, use of water in place of
33 Cf. Macgregor, op. cit., pp. 32-33.
34 Cf. D.C., pp. iv-v; Macgregor, op. cit., pp. 31-32.
35 D. Whitmer, op. cit., p. 61.
36 Millen. Star, XV, 851; Macgregor, op. cit., p. 16.
37 Cf. W. W. Smith, op. cit., p. 16.
38 0. Pratt in Millen. Star, XIX, 260; Macgregor, op. cit., p. 7. Cf. p. 20 for like statement of B. H. Roberts.
39 E.g., D.C. 57:8, S. Gilbert "establish a store."
BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS 93
sacramental wine) and the necessity of rebaptism for all joining the church. 40 But in the Doctrine and Covenants we learn of three heavens, that spirits originally existed with God, that matter is uncreated, that to have joy spirits had to be put in bodies. 41 Even the commandments became more doctrinal, forbidding use of alcohol, hot drinks, and tobacco, and enjoining sparing use of meat. 42 Those who comply shall (Prov. 3:8) receive "health in their navel and marrow in their bones." At first this was not strictly obeyed, Mormons being the chief patrons of the saloon across the river from Nauvoo. Smith excused his drunkenness on the ground that he had to keep his followers from worshiping him. 43 Later this command grew in influence, though God had to repeat it. 44 It resulted in Utah's recent ineffectual anti-cigarette law, in the advocacy of vegetarian menus) and in scientific attacks on tobacco and alcohol. 45 Still it is the cross of many a convert. A Mormon acquaintance informed the author that while visiting in Hanover he drank a little beer and on the way back from Germany drank coffee but diluted it with as much milk as possible. The chief thing, he said, is to avoid excess.
David Whitmer held Rigdon responsible for all doctrinal changes. Rigdon was the intellectual light of the Mormons, an orator, Smith's co-worker, and had extensive biblical knowledge. He would expound the Scriptures to suit himself, persuade Smith to inquire of the Lord 'about it, "and of course a revelation would always come just as they desired it." 46 For a short time after finishing the Book of Mormon Smith continued to read oracles off his peep stone, burying his face in his
40 On last two: D.C. 27, 22.
41 D.C. 76, 93.
42 D.C. 89. Since I Cor. 12:7-10 was emphasized (cf. above, p. 61), this oracle was named "Word of Wisdom" from it. W. Richards, a Mormon physician, is supposed to have influenced it.
43 Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons, 2d ed., p. 50.
44 In 1887 through J. Smith, III (R.D.C. 119: He also prohibited "vulgar stories."
45 Cf. K. F. Gerould, The Aristocratic West (1925), p. 58; F. J. Pack, Tobacco and Human Efficiency; L. W. Oaks, Medical, Aspects of the L.D.S. Word of Wisdom (1929).
46 D. Whitmer, op. cit., p. 45.
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hat, but when Rigdon joined in these endeavors the stone was abandoned. 47
In the Doctrine and Covenants forty-five sections were added, four (U 17, 32, 51, 57) being earlier ones which had been omitted. But some omitted revelations were not added then and never have been. Whitmer, who informs us of this, tells of two. Smith sent some brethren by revelation to Canada to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon. When they came back in failure and in great doubt about the oracle he revealed: "Some revelations are of God, some revelations are of man, and some revelations are of the devil." 48 These oracles were written down like all others but it is not strange that they were left out. The Nauvoo editions, 1844-46, are the same as the Kirtland edition except that eight sections are added and a slight change in numbering is made. The European editions, 1845-69, are identical with these except that they omitted the latter part of 103 (minutes of assembly which accepted the book, not revealed). Since the oracles could not be arranged topically, the subsequent editions of Utah and Reorganized churches have them in very nearly chronological order.
Few revelations were written in later years. More were written in 1831 than in the last ten years of the prophet's life, and two-thirds of those written in 1834-44 were later added by the Utah church, only seven being added at Nauvoo. Smith had become more carefully selective, or at least we have more information about discarded oracles. Two were not thought worthy of being printed. That of November 7, 1835, commended Morley and Partridge and directed them to attend the school of the prophets. That of November 16, 1835, advised E. Holmes to beware of enemies, go home and be baptized. 49 Four oracles were left out because of defects. On November 1, 1835, God said: "Mine anger is kindled against my servant Reynolds Cahoon, because of his.... covetous and dishonest principles...." Cahoon acknowledged that it was "verily so" and
47 Ibid., p. 54.
48 Ibid., p. 40. Cf. above, p. 43.
49 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., I, 598 and 604 f.
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expressed repentance. 50 On the next day Cowdery and F. G. Williams appealed to Smith to decide which might go to New York on church business. The resulting oracle weakly declared that God did not want Williams to go but permitted him to do so. On the following day a still more defective revelation was received. Smith had quarreled with his brother William and the apostles disciplined William. But neither did this please Joseph and he had God tell the apostles that William's sin was no greater than theirs, that they had not even dealt honestly and equally with one another in division of money. 51 The apostles protested against this but finally submitted. Later one of them used it in complaining that the others received better treatment at the Mormon store, though he also asked that a basket (muzzle) be put over William's greedy nose. 52 The fourth oracle, November 14, 1835, called W. Parrish to act as scribe in revealing some wonderful hidden records. But Smith turned bitterly against Parrish and discarded the unfulfilled revelation. 53
Another oracle was omitted, though the reason is not clear. Joseph beheld his brother Alvin, who died before Mormonism began, in the celestial kingdom. God explained: "All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it.... shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom.... " Further, all children who die before accountability go to the celestial kingdom. 54 But not only were oracles discarded. As time went on fewer were written. Most of the doctrines were already revealed, and in giving commands it was less dangerous for Smith to speak than for God to do so. For instance God had praised J. Covill so excessively that when Covill declined the call He had to explain: "Satan tempted him.... and it remaineth with me to do with him as seemeth me good." 55 After
50 Ibid., I, 595.
51 Ibid., I, 596 f.
52 Ibid., I, 597, 615 f.
53 Millen. Star, XV, 424; Elders' Journal, August, 1838.
54 Parry, Joseph Smith's Teachings, pp. 18 f.
55 D.C. 39, 40. God forgot to consult Smith and Rigdon when be appointed J. Whitmer historian (D.C. 47), for when they dismissed him they wrote. "Indeed, sir, we never supposed you capable of writing a history" (Linn, op. cit., p. 114). Cf. God's mistakes
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several such troublesome experiences Smith told his people that they should not ask him to approach God on matters of little or no consequences. 56 "We never inquire at the hand of God for special revelation," he said, "only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case." 57 The revelation of November 16, 1835, marked the transition to prophetic authority, for in it Smith did not give the words of God but only what the oracle contained. From then on, commands to individuals are wanting, revelation being used only to authorize new doctrine or to give general directions to the church. Even such revelations are few, apparently due in part to censorship. This was brought on by heedless use of revelation. Thus on May 19, 1842, at the time of his election as mayor, Smith gave the following to Hiram Kimball: "Verily thus saith the Lord... Hiram Kimball has been insinuating and forming evil opinions against you with others; and if he continue in them, be and they shall be accursed...." 58 William Marks later told how Smith agreed to present all revelations to the Quorum for approval before being given to the church. 59 According to what appears a reliable tradition, Brigham Young sponsored this censorship. 60
In the last revelations Rigdon had little if any part, having lost most of his influence. Smith wrote more boldly alone. Increasing knowledge appeared in attempts at impressiveness, e.g., in D.C. 128:11, "Now the great and grand secret of the whole matter, and the summum bonum of the whole subject...." Another oracle is given by "Son Ahman; or, in other words, Alphus; or, in other words, Omegus; even Jesus." 61
in D.C. 56 and 62:5. In sending the elders back from Missouri God had become so cautious that he ordered: "Let there be a craft made, or bought, as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me...." (D.C. 60:5).
56 Parry, op. cit., p. 53.
57 Times and Seasons, V, 753.
58 Linn, op. cit., p. 114.
59 Ibid., p. 266. Hyde also told of this (Times and Seasons, V, 649f.).
60 F. J. Cannon and G. L. Knapp, Brigham Young, pp. 62, 79 f.
61 Alpha and Omega cannot be thus used for they mean "from A to Z," together signifying completion (D.C. 95:17).
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Many oracles were undoubtedly refined. We have information on D.C. 130:9. On February 18, 1843, Smith remarked "that, when the earth was sanctified and became like a sea of glass, it would be one great Urim and Thummim, and the Saints could look in it and see as they are seen." 62 Six weeks later the final form was: "This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants... whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom... will be manifest...." Similarly the duties of apostles can be traced. This office was not created until February 14, 1835, years after the organization of the church. On February 27 Smith had the apostles discuss their duties, and decided that they were a "Traveling High Council, who are to preside over all the churches of the saints.... and preach among the Gentiles, until the Lord shall command them to go to the Jews. They are.... to unlock the door of the kingdom unto all nations...." Wanting more information the Twelve asked for a revelation. 63 Like the prophet, God told them they were "twelve traveling counselors" and should "regulate all the affairs of the same [church] in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews, to open the door by proclamation of the Gospel...." 64
The oracles written during the last years of Smith's life, 1838-43, while few in number were very important in introduction of doctrine. Communism had been instituted as an everlasting order, but when it failed Smith found no difficulty in getting a revelation which commanded the saints to give their surplus and a tenth of the annual income to the church. A "boarding house" (hotel) at Nauvoo was authorized in which the Smiths were to have place generation after generation and many were individually commanded to "put stock into" it. When three hundred "green saints" arrived from England a it service" was held at which the preacher announced that only a small amount of "stock" had been taken out and called on the people to do
62 Linn, op. cit., p. 267.
63 J. Smith and H. C. Smith, op. cit., I, 541 ff., 553.
64 D.C. 107:21, 33, 35. March 23, 1835.
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so "even though you may not dress so finely as you do now." 65 But new doctrine was not restricted to finances, ranging far in metaphysics.
CONTENTS OF THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTSThis book is Mormonism's Koran. 66 The Book of Mormon is not the characteristic holy book, and its claim as an instrument of restoration rather than its contents mark its significance. It gave weight to Mormonism's claim to being the restored eternal gospel of Adam and at the same time a completion of Christianity as Christianity claims to be of Judaism. 67 Yet it embodies nothing but the Campbellite "first principles" and the Mormon version of American antiquities. The Doctrine and Covenants on the other hand is characteristic, for it is a record of innovations, crises, and their treatment. The Book of Mormon claims to mark Mormonism as a new religion, but the Doctrine and Covenants actually makes it one, for it authorized the transition from sectarian Christianity to a faith more opposed to it than is Islam, and more dramatic than any other development in the history of religions. 68 Mormons themselves recognize that the Doctrine and Covenants is "preeminently the Scriptures of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times," that without it other books largely lose their Mormon significance. 69 They have even urged the impossible notion that it is one of the "Other Books" promised in I Ne. 3:42. 70
65 D.C. 119, 120, 124:22-5, 56 ff.; Caswall, op. cit., pp. 13-15. Equally practical is D.C. 93:48: "Your family must needs.... give more earnest heed unto your sayings...."
66 The D.C. more than the Book of Mormon approximates the Koran's place of influence. Further, it like the Koran is a collection of oracles, in which can be seen development from tentative beginnings to elaborate literary productions. But the D.C. is confessedly piecemeal, giving the momentary will of a God whose will changes, while Allah declared: "And we have parcelled out the Koran into sections, that thou mightest recite it unto men by slow degrees...." (Sura 17:107). The sections are from a unitary, heavenly original which has frequently been regarded as eternal.
67 "The greatest of these 'reformers' was Martin Luther. They were not restorers, but were sent to prepare the way...." (Joseph Fielding Smith, op. cit., pp. 19-21).
68 Cf. Appendix III, also below, pp. 108 f.
69 Cf. Introduction and Preface of Doctrine and Covenants Commentary by H. M. Smith and J. M. Sjodahl (1927).
70 Necessarily Nephite writings (D. Whitmer, op. cit., p. 65).
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Some interesting items of revelation are geographical. To get the saints to follow him to Missouri Smith revealed that the Garden of Eden was there and that Spring Hill is the place where Adam dwelt and where he (Ancient of Days) shall sit as foretold by Daniel. 71 Of those who did not want to leave their property in Ohio God said: "Let them repent.... for what is property unto me?.... Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman.... or the land where Adam dwelt, that you should covet that which is but the drop....?" 72 It is explained that when Noah's ark came down it landed in Asia and that rivers and other objects were named after those back in Missouri, which accounts for similarity of names.
To get the saints to build a temple at Nauvoo they were told that in it alone could they be baptized for their dead, without which their dead relatives could not be saved. 73 The massive temple, commanding the river, may have been planned as a fort. At least when De Leon suggested that, Smith poked him in the ribs and told him that he had "a carnal mind." 74 The salvation hoped for is admittance to the third degree of the third heaven. To gain this degree, where all are gods, one must be sealed by the priesthood to one wife -- preferably and perhaps necessarily to many for eternity. Otherwise marriage ceases with death and the person becomes only an angel, without opportunity of increasing or begetting spirits. The greatest god is
71 D.C. 116, 117; Dan. 7:9-14.
72 "-ondi-Ahman" is a playful Mormonism, explained as "on Diamond," but related to "Ahman" a name given Jesus (D.C. 95:17). Smith justified such names on the ground that Gentiles should be kept in darkness. His church was identified with the city of Enoch so D.C. 78:4 calls him Enoch, also Gazelam after Alma 37:23 where God promises "Gazelem, a (gazing) stone." In D.C. 104:21 Kirtland is Shinehah and Far West became Olaha Shinehah, so in Abraham 3:13 sun is Shinehah and moon Oleah. Elias was changed to Eliseus (Luke 4:27), Simon to Simeon (Matt. 10:2). Rigdon was called Pelagoram (cf. Gen. 10:25); the tannery, "Tahannes," etc. (D.C. 78, 104).
73 D.C. 124:29 ff. I Cor. 15:29, on which this is based, may mean that some were baptized for the dead but does not necessarily sanction it. The baptismal font, as in the Salt Lake City temple, rested on 12 life-sized oxen, imitating the "sea" in Solomon's temple (II Chron. 4:15). Nephi, too, built a temple like Solomon's (II Ne. 5:16). Smith claimed to be greater than Solomon because he built a great temple with less aid (Quincy, op. cit., p. 390). Cf. D. M. McAllister's The Great Temple (1925), and Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (1928).
74 E. De Leon, Thirty Years of My Life.... (1890), p. 61.
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the one with the most power and largest kingdom. 75 He lives on a great Urim and Thummim, a globe like a sea of glass and fire. Our earth, too, at the time of the millennium, will become a crystal Urim and Thummim in which its inhabitants will be able to see all things pertaining to lower kingdoms. Each member of the celestial (Mormon) kingdom will be given a white stone, mentioned in Rev. 2:17, to carry with him and in which he will even be able to see things relating to higher kingdoms of gods. 76 Since knowledge is a means to power and power is the chief divine attribute, prospective gods carry with them from this life the knowledge they have gained. In Luke 10:21 Jesus thanks the Father for hiding "these things from the wise," but the translators changed it to "them who think they are wise." They could not conceive of wisdom and spirituality as antithetical. Not surprisingly they forgot to correct the parallel in Matt. 11:27. This has been expanded to mean that one begins in the next life where he leaves off in this, that he must conquer all sin in this life or during the millennium. Since it will be more difficult then, the reign of Christ will have to last a thousand years. 77
Spirits are aggregates of refined material atoms and have more power when placed in bodies begotten for them. Spirits are begotten by gods and goddesses, who have functional bodies like ours. Most gods have their parts assembled in one spot, but the Holy Ghost is distributed throughout the universe. 78 This explains its being the mode of universal divine operation. Spirits bringing messages should be "discerned" by an offer of shaking hands. If one shakes lie is an angel, a resurrected person; If he refuses because he has no body he is a spirit of a just man; if he shakes hands but one cannot feel his hand it is a deceiving devil. 79 If spirit is matter, so also matter is spiritual. Mormons now want to think that spirit is the source from which
75 D.C. 76, 131, 132.
76 D.C. 130.
77 D.C. 130:18 ff. M. J. Ballard, Three Degrees of Glory (1922), pp. 14 f. People can do more to conform to the laws of God in one year.... than.... in ten years when they are dead."
78 D.C. 131:7, 130:1-3, 22 f.
79 D.C. 129.
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unrefined matter is derived. The Book of Moses had revealed that Enoch heard the earth complain: "I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children." 80 This is interpreted to mean that the earth is an organism, was baptized by the flood, that all things possess some intelligence, including heavenly bodies, the order of which was emphasized in the Book of Abraham. 81
80 7:48. Possibly suggested by Jer. 4:28, more likely by I Ne. 19:12 where "groanings of the earth" make men exclaim. "The God of nature suffers."
81 Cf. J. A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology (1926), pp. 89, 155 f. On recent editions of D.C. see chaps. xvi and xviii.
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Rigdon had been in disfavor with Smith and had disobeyed divine command by moving to Pittsburgh. But when he heard
1 He did not, however, ordain his son Joseph as is asserted. Cf. D.C. 43:4, 64:5, 90:3, 124:17; Joseph F. Smith, Origin of the "Reorganized" Church, pp. 66-82.
2 D.C. 107:24, 33; Joseph F. Smith, op. cit., p. 65.
3 Cf. review of facts in Zion's Advocate, IV, 167-69.
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(Remainder of this chapter not transcribed due to copyright restrictions)
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W. F. Prince rejected the Spaulding theory on the same grounds. He too wanted to make a psychological analysis of Joseph Smith. His argument was that (1) Book of Mormon names show influence of certain names involved in the Masonic controversy (esp. Morgan), and (2) that therefore Smith created them. Obviously the second point does not follow from the first. Anyone else could have been influenced by the controversy, Rigdon quite as well as Smith, when we realize the widespread scope of the anti-Masonic movement. Thus Prince likewise assumed the very point that he set out to prove, namely, that Smith alone wrote the book. But there is a defect even more serious in the
1 Cf. e.g., Appendix III of The Founder of Mormonism.
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argument. The fact that so many Book of Mormon names begin with "Mor" can, as T. Schroeder pointed out, just as well be explained by a "MORe MONey" complex as by a "MORgan" complex. 2 Actually, as has been shown above, p. 47, most of these names were derived from the Bible. No Morgan complex is needed to account for them. This supposed complex cannot be found at work in books which Smith is known to have helped to write. This fact is explained by Prince as due to a psychic censor. His "rigorous psychological tests" appear even much less deserving of serious consideration than Riley's. 3 On the basis of the facts presented in Part I, and in view of the fact that the chief criticisms of the Spaulding theory have been based on misconception, the theory can well be relegated as in all probability true. Some facts which we would like to know must remain unknown, and a good many others must remain somewhat uncertain, but in its main outlines it is almost certainly correct.
2 Another manifestation of this tendency, according to Prince is "anti" from "anti-Masonry" and yet the use of "anti" can more naturally be traced to the tendency to form compound names as Mormon names, together with the idea of opposition. Thus when some of the wicked Lamanites were converted they did not want to be called Lamanites, yet could not be called Nephites. Accordingly they adopted the mediating name "Anti-Nephi-Lehies." The extensive use of compound names has been indicated above, p. 48.
3 Cf. Walter F. Prince, "Psychological Tests for the Authorship of the Book of Mormon," American Journal of Psychology, XXVIII, 373-89, and Theodore Schroeder's telling criticism of it, "Authorship of the Book of Mormon," Amer. Jour. Psychol., XXX, 66-72.
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