Hyrum on Prophets

Hiram said before the High councel that no prophet ever did trangress but was directed by the impulse of the spirit involuntarily Also He said that a man shall take his brothers wife and raise up seed unto him as it was in israel must be again established

A youthful Franklin D. Richards (in a few years, Apostle Richards) recorded a number of sermons in Nauvoo. Hyrum Smith was the occasional object of Richards’s jottings. Richards didn’t take his little notebook to sermon events, rather, he wrote down what he heard either from notes, or memory. No notes are in evidence, but that was often the case for early sermon reporters. An excellent example is John Quincy Adams. Adams reported Sunday sermons in his journal after the fact, and often he was not friendly about it, in great contrast to Hyrum who was evidently as loyal as concrete. The remark has obvious references to Joseph, who was far from perfect—a man of sometimes towering temper and odd claims on subjects ranging from politics to anthropology to medicine (and of course, polygamy).

The point of the post is really that Richards’s youthful ardor for the cause meant that he often left little on the floor. He didn’t give all the details perhaps, but he is useful in a number ways. One of those ways is as an illustration of how sermon events were (and are) remembered for the most part. They were almost never perfect transcriptions (even in Utah when shorthand methods grew into use). But they are revealing with respect to reception and the way recorders assimilated, processed, and saw meaning in their own thought-worlds. You can see more of Richards’s reports of Joseph Smith sermons in particular by going over to the Parallel Joseph at BoAp.org and searching on “Scriptural Items,” the name Richards attached to his little record book. Have fun!

Joseph Smith Papers Newsletter: Number 1.

To have a look at the first newsletter for the JSPP, click through.

Preaching in Antebellum America: An Example.

As some of you may know, I am fascinated by Protestant preaching in the decades prior to the Civil War in America. This partly stems from my book project, now nearing publication, A Textual Study of the Funeral Sermons of Joseph Smith. Mormon preaching in Joseph Smith’s time was often modeled on Protestant forms, but there were important exceptions. Much of Joseph Smith’s preaching was the result of the way church government evolved over time. But I won’t digress to that. Funeral sermons in Protestantism during the period often took place in the home of the deceased. This was often true even in the special case of preachers themselves, especially those in smaller interior churches.
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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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