Print Culture and Orality in Early Mormonism

Working through the Funeral Sermon book, trying to put together a real draft, I’m attempting once again to write an introduction (presently designated as Preface). I’ve written large chunks that have been (and no doubt others that will eventually be) discarded. This post is stuff on the chopping block, but it has some important features that deserve some discussion I think. So I am dumping it on you all. No doubt it is terribly boring stuff, but that’s the nature of the beast. What follows was just an initial draft, so I don’t claim a serious stake in it.

[Cross posted at By Common Consent.]
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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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Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home. Part 5–Brigham.

July 24th 1844 I Called at the Prophets office but no one at home. I then took steem Boat for Albany and found on board Elders O. Hyde and O Pratt and sister Sayers. I was truly pleased to meet with these friends. We rode to Albany and Troy. 166 mile. We there took rail cars for Buffaloo. At Schenactady we Joined Elders B Young H. C. Kimball and L. Wight making six of our quorum to accompany each other home. We rode all night.

25th We continued our Journey all day in the cars. Arived at Buffalo in the evening being 365 miles from Troy in 24 hours. Expenses of travelling and sundry articles from Westfield to Detroit $32.20.
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Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home. Part 3–Coming to Grips

July 18th 1844 Elders O. Hyde H. C. Kimball and O. Pratt arived in the City also President B. Young. We met together. Had some Council. I wrote a letter to the Prophet, advising the Elders who have families in Nauvoo to go immediately to them & for all the authorities of the Church to assemble at Nauvoo for a council, by order of the quorum of the Twelve Wilford Woodruff Clerk B. Young President After which Elder O. Hyde and myself accompanied Sister Voice to take tea with a sister who was attending to a house near the state house fronting the Common.

We walked all over the house & took a view of the furniture. It could not have Cost much less than one hundred thousand dollars to have furnished it.
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Wilford Woodruff: The Way Home, Part 1–The News

This is a series of five posts, which constitute excerpts from Wilford Woodruff’s journal beginning July 9, 1844 and covers the following month. Wilford hears rumors of the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, finally news from trusted friends of its truth. The apostles gather from their different locations in the east, and make their way home to Nauvoo. This is Wilford’s account of that time.

July 9th 1844 I left Scarboro in the morning in company with Father Carter & Elder M. Holmes & rode to Portland, & dined with Ezra Carter & made preperations to take the steam boat in the evening for Thomastown & fox Islands.

But about 2 oclok P.M. We obtained the Boston Times of July 9th Containing the solumn & awful information of the Death of President Joseph Smith the Prophet Seer & Revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Also the Death of Hiram Smith his brother the Patriarch of Said Church. They were shot dead in Cartha[ge] jail by a company of anti mormons & a guard that Governor Ford placed over them 200 men American citizens painted like indians.
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Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale: Summer Course.

Summer Course 2014, “Jonathan Edwards and Missions.”

The Jonathan Edwards Centre is please to announce the Summer Course 2014, “Jonathan Edwards and Missions.” Date: June 9-13, 2014 Location: Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT.

Teaching staff: Kenneth P. Minkema, Adriaan C. Neele.

Using primary and secondary readings, multimedia presentations, and student discussions, this course will focus on Jonathan Edwards as missionary, examining his work at the mission post of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, during the 1750s, where he ministered to Mohawks, Mahicans, and Tuscaroras.

Edwards composed sermons specifically for the natives, wrote copious correspondence to provincial and imperial officials on their behalf, and dealt with native spirituality and social life.

To help understand Edwards’ role and methods, we will place his work in the context of New World comparative missions by the Portuguese, Spanish, French, and British, with particular emphasis on the evolution of British missions in New England, the founding of the Stockbridge mission, and competition from other agencies such as those of the SPG and the Moravians.

Included in the readings will be selections from one of Edwards’ most important works, and a key text in the history of American and English missions, The Life of David Brainerd.

In addition, attention will be given to the reception of some of Edwards works in the history of missions, including but not limited to the Baptist Missionary Society, London Missionary Society, and the French Paris Evangelical Missionary Society.

Book Update

So, I haven’t been able to work on the book much for the past couple of months, but I’m back working on the last chapter every day for an hour or so. Intro is more or less written, working on the genetic criticism. Need to proof it then format for the electronic version. I hope to have things wrapped up before the end of the year.

Gospel Scholarship. The Dividing Line.

A rehash of an old post. Worth thinking about perhaps.

Preaching in 18th century New England tended to fall out in two ways. Here’s one example:
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“Learn How to Live and How to Die”

This is a reboot from way back—In honor of my friend, Quentin Bates—Godspeed old boy

Much of Joseph Smith’s preaching about death was meant to compel his listeners to faith. Over the years of my own life I have seen death. Even if you don’t experience death as it was in the early 19th century, if you live long enough, you will see it impact your life.

I have buried a son, a brother, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and unrelated friends. Looking at death as inevitable has become a routine matter. But what is it for us survivors? It is first and foremost, loss. Whatever theology one subscribes to, or to no theology at all, this is the universal fact. The dead don’t come back. You don’t find him or her sleeping in their bed the next morning after the funeral.

They are gone.
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Losing the Context — Preaching in Early Mormonism

The institution of Mormonism has generally prized parts of, or all of Joseph Smith’s literary production. Joseph wrote little himself, seeing that as a kind of separate duty, tasked nearly exclusively to more capable hands. When a document-driven history began to emerge in the late 1830s, Joseph was a driving force, but rarely a contributor beyond supplying those relevant documents.
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“I Very Much Doubt Whether Another Gentile Ever Joins the Church”

The 25th anniversary of the organization of the little “Church of Christ” in 1830 New York saw the apostles who succeeded Joseph Smith building a new territory out of the wilderness of the west. A general conference convened on April 6th 1855 with Brigham Young presiding. The small tabernacle was overcrowded leaving thousands outdoors and a new Bowery was under construction, anticipated to hold 12,000.

One of the interesting developments of the meeting, aside from fascinating organizational matters, was the calling of new missionaries. But there was a difference: these newly called missionaries were headed out to seek the Jews around the world, not those pesky Gentiles. Fifty-three men were voted to take these new assignments to different parts of the world. One leader stated that the goal was to see the Jews return to the Holy Land and the House of Israel redeemed. As one might expect, Orson Hyde stood and related a portion of his own mission to the Holy Land and expressed his conviction that the Spirit of the Lord would rest down upon this mission to the House of Israel.
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The Gift of Tongues: The Propagation of Sermon Texts in Mormonism

Another blast from the past. It seemed appropriate.

In spite of all the talk about remembering what we feel in a sermon experience, not what we hear, as valid as that may be, it is the text that reigns supreme. Recreating a sermon is not possible. But recording the words spoken on the occasion may be valuable. From the very beginning of Joseph Smith’s career, it was the text that trumped all other things. The Book of Mormon saga places the text in the role of savior, preserver and founder of language and true religion. It was to be expected that Mormons would keep records, and by commandment.
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King Follett Fallout

One of the many interesting things about the King Follett Discourse (KFD) was its nearly immediate (public) effect on church priorities. An early production of a text for the KFD appeared in the church serial of Nauvoo, Times and Seasons. In November, the text was reprinted in Liverpool, England in Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star. An editorial appeared in the same issue of the Star which I think is remarkable for both its quotation of the early KFD text and its takeaway from that text.
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Muggles, Mormons and Theology

“Mainstream” Protestantism during Joseph Smith’s lifetime was locked in important controversies over things like the nature and extent of freewill, grace, perfectionism, slavery and the like.

But drop groups like the Mormons or Shakers into the discussion and those other disagreements paled.
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“Outlines of Mormon Philosophy” and the King Follett Discourse

Lycurgus Arnold Wilson was born in Salem, Utah in 1856.[1] Wilson did a stint as a school teacher in Utah valley and then decided on the Law as profession, eventually founding the firm, Booth and Wilson. In 1891, Wilson became tithing clerk for Presiding Bishop William B. Preston.[2]
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