Friday, March 26, 2010

The Dating of Doctrine & Covenants 10 - Part 1

March 25, 2010 (updated April 11, 2010)
by Tim Barker

The original header to Section 10 of the Doctrine and Covenants, as published in the 1833 Book of Commandments (as Section 9), indicated that the revelation contained therein was received in May 1829.1 In the 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the caption was modified to read that the revelation was received in the “summer of 1828.”2 This date has remained consistent through subsequent publications including our current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

The reason for the change likely relates to B.H. Roberts’ research as published in the History of the Church. He stated that the May 1829 date is “clearly an error,” based on available circumstantial evidence.3 The Community of Christ (formerly The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) had previously modified the revelation date in their version of the Doctrine and Covenants by 1897. Their publication indicates that the revelation was received in July 1828.4  Their 1952 publication has the timing of the revelation updated as “July or August 1828.”5

Melchizedek Priesthood - Restoration Timeline

Last updated March 26, 2010
by Tim Barker

Note: This is a working draft!  References will be added next update.

Spring 1829
Emma acts as Joseph’s scribe part time while at their home in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

By this time Joseph had already suffered the loss of the 116 pages which Martin Harris had transcribed. Joseph and Emma are in Harmony, Pennsylvania and she acts as scribe for Joseph part time while they continue their daily labors of farming, housekeeping, etc. The translation process moves slowly. Samuel Smith and Reuben Hale also contribute as scribes to a limited extent.

March 1829 – Joseph Smith receives D&C 5

In Harmony, a revelation is given through Joseph Smith to Martin Harris. Included in this revelation, the Lord mentions that Joseph would be ordained hereafter (vs. 6), three witnesses will be called and ordained (vs. 11), the witnesses will see the records and testify of them (vs. 11-13, 15), the Lord tells them that they are not yet ordained (vs. 17), and Joseph is told to “stop for a season” regarding translation of the Book of Mormon, “until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee” (vs. 30, 34).

Seek Ye Diligently...

December 17, 2009
by Tim Barker

D&C 88:118
In December 1832 and January 1833, Joseph Smith received a revelation, known to us today as Doctrine & Covenants section 88, and known to early Latter-day Saints as the “Olive Leaf” revelation. Within this revelation, the Lord told Joseph, “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118). Joseph Smith described this particular revelation as “the olive leaf which we have plucked from the tree of paradise, the Lord’s message of peace to us…we have the satisfaction of knowing that the Lord approves of us, and has accepted us, and established his name in Kirtland for the salvation of the nations; for the Lord will have a place, from whence his word will go forth, in these last days, in purity…” Joseph then adds, “the Lord commanded us, in Kirtland, to build an house of God, and establish a school for the prophets.”1 While it is not within the scope of this talk to go into much detail regarding the context of the School of the Prophets, or of the Temple, it is important to note that learning by study and faith was to be an integral part of the preparation process for the Temple endowment, and some of this preparation took place within the School of the Prophets, and subsequently, the School of the Elders.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Discussion on Pre-Mortality

December 12, 2009
by Tim Barker

Pre-Mortality As Taught in the Bible.

“If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.”1

In its historical context, Anathema has generally been understood to mean that a person would be excommunicated from the Church and accursed. As of 553 AD, this doctrine was established to abolish the idea of pre-mortality within Christianity. The doctrine of pre-mortality in regards to “historical Christianity” has generally been characterized as an untrue Hellenistic ideal that entered the emerging church through many of the early converts. This view asserts that mankind did not exist prior to birth, and that any allusions to the concept within the canon of scripture should simply be interpreted as referring to God’s foreknowledge.

Recently, while searching for a lecture given by Hugh Nibley on the subject,2 I stumbled upon a video of a Christian explaining why we, as Mormons, misinterpret Jeremiah 1:5. His message essentially repeats the idea that it was simply God’s foreknowledge referred to in this verse. He also asserts that this is a “key” Biblical verse used by Mormons to substantiate the idea of pre-mortality. While he is correct that it is a key verse, we are at odds with his interpretation of the scripture. In response to this video, I posted some verses from Proverbs chapter eight that I believe are also “key” verses on the subject.

Fire on the Montan(ists)

December 12, 2009
by Adam Christensen

The Montanists were a Christian sect that arose towards the close of the second century and well into the third century. This schism is most remembered for their stand of continuing revelation after the Gospels and after the apostolic reign of the Church. It’s most famous member, Tertullian, a revered Church Father by his own right, is all that is left for us in a “Pro” argument for the group, himself a convert, as the congregations that followed this “New Prophecy” as they were sometimes dubbed, are all but dismissed as heretical from the fragments we have from that period and all that is left possess a very negative feel. That said, although Montanist scripture remains in few and scattered pieces today (mostly from Tertullian’s letters and discourses), thus giving us only an Apologetics description, the “Con” side of the argument is also very unclear (Eusebius uses as the bulk of his text an author whose name is lost even to Eusebius).1 For this reason a good, well rounded critical analysis is lacking in realistic formulation until more ancient records may surface from the dust. Even the negative commentators of the time were not in agreement as to just how, in one consensus, the Montanists were in particular heretical.

Benjamin F. Johnson – A Brief Biography

December 12, 2009
by Tim Barker

Note: I had written this biography while in school a number of years back. While it is brief, and really only focuses on his life in early church history, his story is inspiring and insightful.

Among the early converts and pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are those lesser-known Saints who have contributed significantly to its establishment and growth. From its humble beginnings, the church grew rapidly because of devoted members who quickly embraced the gospel, and shared it with loved ones and neighbors. These Saints loved and supported their prophet, Joseph Smith, Jun., and went to great lengths to help him in all of his endeavors. Although most early church leaders are generally recognized by Latter-day Saints today, there were many men and women who gave all that was required of them, but have faded on to the backdrops of history. Among these noble pioneers was Benjamin Franklin Johnson, an early convert, personal friend of the Prophet, and his private secretary. As such, Johnson was able to recount the events in his own life, as well as shed greater light on to the personality of the Prophet Joseph Smith for others. His life is an example of one great pioneer who was faithful throughout his life, but unfortunately is not generally well known among Latter-day Saints today.