From BoAP Archives: Who is Iscah?

This originally appeared a few years ago at BCC. Since it’s Old Testament times in Sunday School, I thought this curiosity might be fun for you.

Abraham’s family life is the stuff of Jew, Gentile, and Mormon legend. But, I’m not going to break into that territory much. It’s too complex and I don’t have the mental space for it now. But, who is Iscah? The name appears once in the Hebrew Bible, just after the genealogy of Abram:
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LaJean Carruth Reveals the “Lost Sermons”

LaJean Carruth is an expert in nineteenth-century shorthand systems that played a role in Mormon note-keeping, particularly in the Utah period. (LaJean has also given us the heretofore unexpanded notes of the August 1844 succession meetings as well.) Given my own interest in Mormon sermon-making, I find her work absolutely fascinating. Moreover, it is not restricted to library rats like me: The Church History Library has done a wonderful service in providing us access to LaJean’s work. Here is an example http://eadview.lds.org/findingaid/viewer?pid=IE1772001&pds_handle=

The Errorists

When the Mormons embarked on the business of publishing God’s new revelation to the world, the Book of Mormon, they joined an already teeming effort by American Protestants of various stripes to convert the New World to Christian belief (and practice). The largest efforts involved the American Bible Society (ABS) and the related but different American Tract Society (ATS). By the time the Mormons came on the scene, their combined efforts resulted in billions of pages each year. Read more of this post

Succession Angst Circa 1849

The idea that leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would stay in the Joseph Smith Jr family was embedded in the minds of long time American Mormons. After all, they had lived this idea, from the Smith brothers involvement in all levels of leadership, to revelations that hinted at various sorts of primogeniture, ancient and modern. Royalty might have been a dirty word in early national America, but it’s a natural impulse attested in so many ways. Some early critics of the Nauvoo apostles tell a story of real confusion, worry, and wonder at how the royal family of Mormonism was to continue.
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Books and Printing and Mormons. Part 7.

Paper, was a product of Chinese invention. The process was driven by human labor of course and didn’t become machine powered until water mills came on line in Medieval times. Making paper requires a material base consisting of suitable fibers. Water provides the ability to defuse the material through mechanical action like pounding it with wooden or metal tools. The resulting slurry can be spread over a draining screen and when dry, paper results.
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Books and Printing and Mormons. Part 6.

Up until about a century ago, type was set (composed) by hand. This was an art. The type had to be set as the mirror image of the desired document for obvious geometrical reasons.
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Nauvoo Food Budget ~1844

So, feeding a family of five in Nauvoo, 1844. How much would it cost you? Here is a very rough approximation, assuming you could buy this stuff at market prices, and assuming these were fairly uniform (both false economies).

Butcher: 2lbs per day at 10 cents per pound: $1.40
Barrel of flour, $5.00, lasts about 8 weeks: 0.63
Butter, 2lbs, 31.5 cents per pound: 0.63
Potatoes, .5 bushel: 0.50
Sugar, 4 lbs at 8 cents a pound: 0.32
Coffee and Tea (yes they did use it): 0.25
Milk, 2 cents per day: 0.14
Salt, pepper, vinegar, starch, soap, soda
yeast, cheese, eggs 0.40
Total for the week: abt. $4.27.

Most in Nauvoo had gardens and these would supplement vegetable intake, though mainly the poor ate vegetables. Many had milk cows so milk and butter came at the price of effort and feed stock.

In a city, other living expenses (clothes, housing and other similar expenses) might total about $6.00. So for the week, cost of living was roughly $10.00.

Let’s say you’re a day laborer. What percentage of wages went to retail food in a week: about 80%. By 1860 this was about 75%. By 1900, about 45%. By 1930, 15%. Food got cheaper.

Nauvoo Groceries: May 1, 1844

Your grocer’s stock. Get it while it lasts, people.

Flour, superfine per barrel $4.25
Flour, fine per barrel $4.00
Corn per bushel $0.33
by the load $0.30
Corn Meal $0.374
Oats per bushel $0.25
Potatoes per bushel $0.31 to 0.374
Pork per barrel $7.00 to 8.00
Bacon per lb $0.04 to 0.05
Hams ” ” $0.05
Lard ” ” $0.06
Butter ” ” $0.124
Eggs per dozen $0.05
Mould Candles per lb $0.10
Dried Apples per bushel $1.25
Rice per lb $0.06
Molasses New Orleans per gal $0.37 to 0.40
Honey per lb $0.06
Sugar ” ” $0.06 to 0.10
Maple ” ” $0.124
Coffee ” ” $0.10 to 0.12
Tea ” ” $0.50 to 1.00
Chocolate ” ” $0.25
Cocoa ” ” $0.184
Saleratus ” ” $0.124
Glass per box 8 by 10, $3.25 10 by 12 $4.25
Iron Pittsburgh per cwt from $6.00 to 9.00
Nails Boston per cwt $6.00

Publication Note: Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church Volume 3.

The BYU Religious Studies Center has published the third volume in Peter Crawley’s A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church.

This volume covers the period from 1853-1857 and is the final volume in the series. The book covers those materials printed with one or more pages that bear on some Church matter. Articles in newspapers, maps, prints, banknotes and ephemeral pieces are not included.

These volumes are the most important contributions to early LDS print culture and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Available at

Amazon:

$54.84 (free shipping).
ISBN: 978-0-8425-2810-8

Construction, dust jacket and size match the previous two volumes. Essentially for anyone interested in early Mormon imprints or Mormon history from 1830-1857.

Summer Review: Albert Brisbane — Joseph Smith and Eschatology

Another Oldie.

This post has been sitting around for a while, has something to do with Joseph Smith’s sermons, and in particular funeral sermons, because it poses some questions on the idea of community and eschatology, and I don’t have time to work on it more right now, so here it is.

Mormon communal adventures of the 19th century played out against a range of American civil experimentation. A major difference was the underlying eschatology of Mormonism.

Joseph Smith pushed (via revelations like Doctrine and Covenants 42) the idea of community into the lives of early Mormons, but he also pushed it into the afterlife (an early version of this is D&C 78:6 – later versions were based on sealing). Echoing Swedenborg (by coincidence rather than intent it seems) he infused doctrine with community and family. Read more of this post

Summer Review: Is Reality Consistent With First Order Predicate Calculus?

The whole of science is based on answering yes to that question. But what about religion? At least from Augustine to Aquinas, people hoped the answer was yes. Of course they wouldn’t have used the same terminology.
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Election Day at Gallatin

Here’s a bit of 4th of July thinking. But don’t let it get you down.

The rough and tumble politics of the Jacksonian Era has a distinct Mormon example. Precipitating the Missouri-Mormon War, the election day riot at Gallatin, Missouri, August 6, 1838, placed Daviess County Mormons in the position of defending their vote with a little assertiveness. [1]
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Joseph Smith, Sermons, and Lived Religion

From the late colonial period to the time of Joseph Smith, important forces were at work that changed the nature of preaching. Most sermons in the late colonial period were read. Whether from small briefs carried into a pulpit, scribbled notes on a quarter sheet of foolscap, or carefully fleshed out thoughts in tempered script, preachers expanded from their notes or read word for word, but in general followed a written pre-planned text. There is a paper trail there.[1]

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Preaching, Rhetoric and Mormons

[Cross posted at BCC.]

With the recent conference, many Church members saw what has become the pinnacle of Mormon Preaching: The General Conference Address. But is it really representative of the Mormon sermon? I say no. In my paltry experience, Mormon preaching is much more like classical Methodist homily than the considered rationalist stuff you might get from an Anglican pulpit. General Conference preaching is very carefully scripted. No off the reservation speculation, no fire and brimstone to speak of, no getting lost in the rhetorical moment allowed, much. (I think Church presidents have their leeway and there is descent evidence for that.)
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Sermons, More Sermons and Funeral Sermons

Sermons in antebellum America were both innovative and derivative. While disestablishment opened wider the doors of American Religious Culture to the radical, it also strengthened the radical establishment (by that I mean the unsettled Methodists and Baptists). Preachers naturally came in similar breadth and hence their sermons found all sorts of niches in which to settle.

We are dependent on the egos or concerns of the preachers themselves (for the most part) to see what they preached and where and when they did it. Read more of this post

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