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!

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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Collector’s Edition of Joseph Smith Papers, Documents 2, Now Available

If you are into nice leather bound copies of JSP volumes, volume 2 of the Documents series is now available in numbered leather bound format. These are nice volumes, I own a couple of them. Documents volume 2 is priced at $165.00, and is available at Deseret Book, contact Heather Graves (hgraves@deseretbook.com).

Mormon Scripture vs. The Protestant Bible

One of the prime assertions of much of Protestantism is the errorlessness of inspiration. God overrules the freedom to err in the prophetic voice. That purity existed in the biblical “autographs” whatever that may mean. Mormon scripture seems to convey just the reverse. Error, opinion, lack of full form, may invade even the pristine texts of Mormonism (most of which we no longer possess). While Joseph Smith may be interpreted to say the genuine prophetic voice is without error, the same assertion reveals an epistemology carrying an uncertainty subtext. The Book of Mormon contains the internal premise of error. Not that God is in error, but that the prophetic voice of the book may fail to be errorless. And Mormons don’t like that anymore than their Protestant brethren. [Sorry, just thinking out loud for a book.]

Priesthood Article in Dialogue

My article on “Early Mormon Priesthood Revelations” is out in the winter 2013 issue of Dialogue. I think they are doing some free access right now, so get on over there!


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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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.


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