Episode 149: Mormonism and Masonry part 3: The Book of Abraham and Nauvoo

John is rejoined by George Miller to discuss Masonry as it relates to the Book of Abraham and Masonry into the Nauvoo period.

Episode 149

96 comments on “Episode 149: Mormonism and Masonry part 3: The Book of Abraham and Nauvoo”

    • Anonymous Reply

      No we got two hours in and still didn’t get to everything. So it looks like we have one more to go.

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Hello everyone. I hope that you enjoy this episode of the podcast. There are many things I had “wanted” to get to, but we simply ran out of time. Additionally, I am finding that the format of the audio interviews makes it difficult to convey the detailed analysis necessary for presenting some of the material I would like to convey. I will endeavor to continue to answer any questions you guys might have here in as in depth detail as I can.

    Sincerely,
    George Miller

    • Nielper Reply

      George, I’m sure it’s frustrating for you to try to present all this important information in the podcast format but in the larger scheme of things it may be your most influential presentation because it is accessible and understandable for the “masses” (including myself). Too much of Mormon history is delivered at a high scholarly level and the common member doesn’t see it and/or doesn’t understand it. Keep up the good work and keep the podcasts coming.

  2. Megan Reply

    I’m committing the sin of asking a question before I’ve finished the podcast so I may be doing a mea culpa later but…

    Commenting on one of the earlier casts I had mentioned that it seemed Joseph had an urge to take the metaphoric or conceptual and try to make it practical or physical, i.e. the Masonic concept of a great room with records stored (metaphor) becomes Joseph’s actual chamber under the hill with real plates (physical place in real time and space).

    The same seems true of the concept of prophet, priest and king. He claimed real ability as prophet, real powers as priest, which brings up the obvious question, what did Joseph envision a king as being? It seems disingenuous to claim that king has solely a spiritual meaning when both the others had very practical role (prophets give genuine prophecy – or claim so, not getting into the whole argument about validity of Smith’s prophecies at this point – priests do genuine healings etc). It’s also not possible to argue that a king is meant to be a king in the next life as again, both other roles with which it’s yoked are functional here and now.

    Since the whole prophet-priest-king thing continues to resonate in Mormonism today (aren’t believers still set apart as kings/queens in the temple?), wouldn’t it be a reasonable thing to understand just what Joseph had in mind when he used the term? Particularly as he apparently intended to be one himself, in this life, during his own time? Over whom does a king rule? What is his domain? What is his kingdom? Who constitute his vassals?

    George, is there anything in masonry that could inform on this? How do the masonic concepts of prophet and priest relate to the Mormon concepts as envisioned by Joseph Smith during the Nauvoo/Kirkland era, and from those relationships is it possible to extrapolate what the role of king was going to be?

    I’m particularly curious because ‘king’ was a very, very loaded term in early America. Like ancient Rome, who continually used the term tyrannus with the term rex, America truly distrusted kings and king makers. Remember that John Wilkes Booth shouted ‘sic semper tyrannis’ after shooting Lincoln, quoting Brutus at the assassination of Caesar.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Great point Megan. I think you are right that Joseph Smith was conceptualizing the “king” and hoping that the concept would become physical. As we move into this topic, we must realize that while Joseph Smith is borrowing the ideas Masonry, that he is reworking them radically and assembling them in new and novel ways that diverge drastically from their typical Masonic interpretations.

      First, Joseph Smith viewed the “king” motifs as a spiritual afterlife reality. I think this is very clear from his writings. However, you question is about Joseph Smith physical ideas on “king”. Joseph Smith clearly expected a time to be soon at hand in which the world would become a theocracy. This point is clearly ignored by more right wing conservative Mormons who hail the constitution as the be all and end of society. I roughly divide Joseph Smith’s ideas on his own kingship into two categories – early and late; however, I don’t feel that distinct lines can be drawn between them.

      [Entering Wild Speculation Mode]

      Early on Joseph Smith expected that VERY soon that the American government would collapse (in part due to the actions of Spurious Masonry) and would have to answer for its spiritual crimes. Joseph Smith thought that the weakening of the government would lead to the Indians rising to power and largely removing from the land those that had abused them, and that they would then blossom as a rose. Joseph Smith, I believe, expected this would come about by them accepting Christ and his religious message. This is largely why Joseph planned to build up Zion in Missouri, the lands nearest where the Indians had retreated. I think he expected therefore to be a high leader in this coming Indian government, if not their prophet, priest and king.

      However, Joseph Smith was in for a rude awakening. When the missionaries arrived in Missouri he found them unreceptive, uninterested and unresponsive to his “history” of their Jewish past. While Joseph (and the Saints) held out hope for the fulfilling of Joseph Smith vision, it never came to pass. With that Joseph Smith was required to rework his plans.

      In Nauvoo after being further exposed to Masonry, Joseph Smith re-envisioned the kingdom he would create. Joseph Smith looked at his own accomplishments as a “prophet” and a “priest” and wondered how he would become a “king”. Joseph Smith’s new view was of more of a democratic millennium soon to come, and to be prepared for then, in which he would continue in his duties of “prophet” and “priest”, but which he would build up his kingdom through Masonry. Remember that before the Morgan Affair that many believed that the Masons were in effect “picking” the leaders of the nation by “influencing” the vote through Masonic affiliations. I believe, though much more work need to be done to really prove them, is that Joseph Smith wanted to have his church, but that his kingdom was to be a Masonic democratic kingdom. Joseph Smith largely held up such hope until literally the end of his life. One must remember that the Council of Fifty, which for Joseph Smith was the nucleus of his Kingdom to come, was in effect Masonic in its nature, including Masonic signs and tokens at its meetings.

      [End Wild Speculation Mode]

      That should give you some ideas on what I think may be happening with Joseph Smith’s ideas on Kings and Kingdoms.

      • Anonymous Reply

        George, from what I have read, it sounds like Brigham Young picked up on the vision that Joseph Smith had of a theocracy presided over by a king (I’ve even heard that Brigham Young was also ordained as a “king” in the Council of 50). Also, it would seem that Brigham Young actually saw the creation of his own Kingdom in Utah (which he did preside over). I’m curious to know when the idea of a theocracy and King began to die down in Mormonism (or if it even fully took off). I read that Heber J. Grant was the last member of the Council of 50, but I’m curious to know about what (or who) precipitated the demise of the Council of 50. Do you think that it could have anything to do with the immediacy of the Second Comng that early saints believed in? Perhaps when Christ didn’t come (as soon as they had hoped), the idea of a theocracy as a preparatory vehicle to the millenial reign of Christ began to lose its fervor.

        • Anonymous Reply

          TIC28- I think you are right on the money here. Brigham was following Joseph Smith’s vision. In fact, I would suggest, that Brigham was heading out west perhaps to reinvent Joseph’s vision of a mixed Indian-Mormon nation. I think in many ways Brigham was able to create his own empire and theocracy in Deseret.

          You asked about how this idea finally died in Mormonism, well I have my own ideas on that. The vision died in large part in two stages. The first nail in the coffin occurred in 1865. What happened in 1865 you ask? In 1865 the civil war ended and the United States had not annihilated itself as Joseph Smith’s repurposes “Civil War” prophesy predicted. The second nail in the coffin came in 1889-90 when Joseph Smith’s end of the world prophesy failed to materialize. With the realization that the US wasn’t going anywhere and the end times were in fact not near, the church made radical changes to reintegrate itself back into civil society. The timing of the manifesto in 1890 was not a coincidence. The final death nail in coffin of a literal kingdom of God came in 1896 when Utah had to formally give up all political leanings when it joined the nation as a state.

      • Megan Reply

        That is fascinating!

        I’ve never really considered ‘king’ in Mormonism before, or how truly bizarre it is for an essentially, even fundamentally, American religion. As you say, Modern American Mormons view the constitution as divinely inspired and near-scripture and the founding fathers were vehemently opposed to any sort of kingship (Washington, quite famously, refused to be named king), so the central idea of prophet, priest and king should be jarring.

        The trouble is there are so many couplets and triplets in Mormonism they become meaningless and we don’t really pick them apart – prophet, seer and revelator; prophet, priest and king; nourish and strengthen and so on.

        However, if it came originally from masonry, which has European roots and a strong practical AND metaphoric understanding of king, that makes far more sense. It is terribly anachronistic when transplanted to an American religious movement, and it doesn’t help that it was done so without (apparently) any explanation or description.

        Just curious – since Joseph went on at length about priesthood (which he was seriously re-inventing), and demonstrated his idea of prophecy, did he do the same anywhere for kingship? What about during or after the talk you mentioned when he announced Hiram would be inheriting the role of prophet (BTW, this implies to me that Joseph was definitely thinking blood-line for his power-trio)?

        I think your Wild Speculation has some merit, particularly in the first part where you talk about Joseph’s sense of the impending collapse of the government. It’s hard to remember now that Europe referred to our government as ‘the American Experiment,’ and happily and confidently expected it to self-immolate within a few decades. Rule by the people was considered simply impossible, and when you combine the recent war of 1812 with it’s near disaster (Washington D.C. was captured and set alight), the real maritime problems faced by the new nation and the hellfire-and-damnation messages of the evangelical preachers of the time it’s really not that odd that Joseph was anticipating an apocalypse of some sort.

        Boy… he didn’t have much ego though, did he? Not content with being the Voice of God and the Hand of God, he wanted to rule the new world as well! Love the idea that he figured the Native Americans would welcome him, a white dude, with open arms and shout – hell yes! Rule away Joseph!

        • Anonymous Reply

          The movers and shakers always think big. But remember he wanted all to become prophets, priests and kings right along side of him. Somehow that is a beautiful image.

  3. Anonymous Reply

    George, thanks for doing this series. A lot of great information. Just curious, I believe that I remember you saying that you are still an active, believing member of the Church ( I think you said that anyway). How do you reconcile the knowledge that you have of the Book of Abraham (and the other mummy papyrii) and your testimony of Joseph Smith as a seer? Seems like your research would suggest that Joseph was purely “blowing smoke” when it comes to his translation of the Book of Abraham.

    • Anonymous Reply

      I am an active member of the Mormon church and I have deep emotional and spiritual feelings towards both Joseph Smith and Mormonism. I both self identify myself as Mormon and I consider Mormons my people and my tribe. That being said, I do not believe that Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price or the Book of Abraham are historically accurate books. While I don’t find these pieces of Mormon literature to be accurate pieces of history, I do consider them to be inspired. For example my own exploration of the Book of Abraham has been one of the intellectual and spiritual highlights of my life; and I have a gained an enormous amount of respect for the ideas and complexity of this book and its author Joseph Smith. My own evaluation of the text and its method of creation screams a level of sophistication and insight that is awe-inspiring to me. I personally think the Book of Abraham should be held up as one of the 100 greatest pieces of religious literature of all time. Mormons can hold their heads up high knowing that they belong to a church whose founder was one of the foremost religious thinkers and religious writers of his day.

      Perhaps to understand my perspective, it might help to understand my own thoughts on the word “prophet”. I believe academics would define the word and “prophet” in very different ways than we were taught in primary. Academics would speak of prophets as innovators, social critics, and thinkers of the highest level who work through religion to bring about change. In this sense Joseph Smith is a prophet. I personally believe that if there is a God, that he acts through entirely and completely largely known naturalistic means. I am not deist, for I believe in a highly personal God that interacts with any person who desires his company and guidance. However, I believe he does that through voices heard through ones “spiritual ears”, visions seen through ones “spiritual eyes” and his presence which is felt in ones “spiritual heart”. An academically inclined person would likely not use these religious terms but instead would use more scientific or psychological terms like discussing how these impressions, thoughts, meditative visions and dreams and emotional reactions all come from the subconscious mind.

      I still find great beauty in Mormonism, in Joseph Smith’s scripture, and more importantly in the community of Saints who demonstrate so much love and kindness to me, my friends, and my family. Does this answer you question, at least in part?

      • Anonymous Reply

        George, you did answer my question. Thanks for your response. I share similar beliefs in regard to my testimony of Joseph as a “prophet” (a term that has me relying on my own semantics in my temple recommend interviews). I’m thankful to have members of the Church like you. Often, a crisis of faith can lead many members to completely forsake all of the doctrine and teachings of the Church (including its leaders). I think that there is much “inspiration” and “spirituality” to be found in Joseph’s teachings (despite the hang-ups). The temple is still a powerful place for me (and a place for receiving my own inspiration). Thanks for taking the time to present this series.

      • Patriarchal_gripe Reply

        Thanks, George, for another enlightening podcast.  I greatly enjoy all that you have produced here.

        To weigh in on Joseph Smith and “believing” in him as a prophet, you say that members naively expect Joseph (or any prophet, for that matter) to be an expert in various areas.  The “flawed” prophet model is understandable to reconcile problematic behaviors and history that seem to cast a shadow on the mantle, but more importantly it brings to light the issue of whose words and doctrines are being taught?  Either they come from God, or they come from the man claiming to speak to God.  How do you buy the notion that the flaws come from the man, while the good comes from God?  If God, or his mouthpiece, can’t be trusted to be 100% correct, all the time, why believe in the notion of a prophet?

        • Anonymous Reply

          Hey PG- Growing up in the church, I think we are taught in the primary to “follow the prophet” and we will “not go astray” because of course “he knows the way”. However, as I have grown up I have largely given up the notion that anyone’s philosophy or teaching is 100% correct. In fact today I find that NOTHING is EVER 100% correct, except maybe in math, but even there if I change from a base 10 to a base 12 system even simple addition no longer becomes accurate. In fact every choice and every system has positives and negative aspects. If we only look at the positive aspects, and ignore the negative aspects, then negative consequences are bound to bite us in the rear.

          While I can understand how compelling the dichotomy of it “came from God” or it “didn’t come from God” seems to many Mormons, this was not the conception of revelation held by Joseph Smith. [Note- it may have been the conception of Brigham Young though] Joseph learned his metaphysics and methodology of revelation largely from reading Agrippa’s writing and from his peers who followed in this vain. Agrippa suggests revelation is continuous in its level of purity; and my own reading of the data suggests Joseph Smith, for the most part, followed the same model.

          Personally, I think revelation can be a very dangerous tool, but when used appropriately it can provide both life changing spiritual events and inspiration to delight the heart and mind. That being said, spiritual tools should only be used to the extent to which your scientific and rational filter is finely tuned. Personally, I distrust EVERYONES personal revelation except my own, and I am HIGHLY skeptical of my intuitive and inspirational leaps. I personally think that as adults, it is dangerous to trust implicitly in the “arm of flesh” whether he be a prophet or simple publican.

      • Anonymous Reply

        George, with all due respect, your explanation of the type of prophet Smith was differs from what, as a believing LDS, you are told and expected to believe.

        Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet in the defined sense of the word, at least not a true prophet. He also failed miserably in many endeavors unrelated to his establishment of what has become Mormonism. Smith used religion as part of his MO, which was to get the gullible to give him money. He was very good at that, however unlike a skilled confidence man, he took the easy path – those with magical thinking are screaming out to be taken advantage of.

        I’ve said it before with regards to other guests here at ME. You can call yourself a Mormon ’til you’re blue in the face, but you aren’t a Mormon unless you believe their scripture was inspired of God, speaks the truth, and that Smith was a true prophet.

        It’s clear from these podcasts that you believe Smith was inspired by the work of other men, not God. Therefore, you would not be considered to be a faithful member of the Church by those who decide these things, assuming you are 100% honest in your interviews.

        You might be impressed by the whole pomp and ritual in Masonry and Mormonism, but that doesn’t mean either is of God any more than the ceremonies surrounding the British Crown. All of it is very human, very superfluous to real needs, and could be seen as a social adhesive at best and an exclusionary occult (ie hidden from scrutiny) cabal at worst.

        • Erico Reply

          With all due respect Ozpoof, I think that there is room in Mormonism for people like GeorgeMiller.  His is a matured and responsible approach.  Also, no gripes with those who want to bail on Mormonism.  GeorgeMiller has never made any exclusivity claims regarding Mormonism as the one and only way…

    • Anonymous Reply

      From an academic perspective I think Joseph Smith’s translation is completely inaccurate as a translation of the Hor Book of Breathings papyrus. However, if by “blowing smoke” you mean that Joseph Smith was consciously “pulling a con job” on his followers, then I couldn’t disagree more. Every indication of the process suggests that Joseph Smith fully believed his translation was accurate. I am absolutely amazed at the lengths to which Joseph Smith went “translate” the Book of Abraham.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        But George couldn’t those “great lengths” also be accounted for as the standard diversionary tactics that con-men use to dissuade their “mark(s)” that they’re being conned?

        (the same tactics that magicians use to divert their audience from the reality behind the illusion  BTW. Got Luman Walters – as in Smith’s occult mentor, Luman Walter ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luman_Walter ) 

        This was nothing new for Smith, we see the same pattern of intense diversionary tactics in his Treasure Hunting business, in the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, and the Book of Enoch.
        ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Moses ) 
        In addition, let’s not forget that Joseph Smith was being compensated for his role as “prophet”… 12. And if ye desire the glories of the kingdom, appoint ye my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and uphold him before me by the prayer of faith.13. And again, I say unto you, that if ye desire the mysteries of the kingdom, provide forhim food and raiment, and whatsoever thing he needeth to accomplish the work wherewith I have commanded him. (Doctrine and Covenants 43:12-13)

        … and his followers, being the good pragmatic Americans that they were, would expect a reasonable return on their investment in their prophet.  So he would have to do SOMETHING with his time to make it appear that he was “carrying his weight” in the community.  Just spitting a new book of revelation without it looking HARD would have been too obvious – it would have compromised the con and likely gotten the Prophet tarred and feathered by their followers as and Rigdon were after the Kirtland Safety Society con failed? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirtland_Safety_Society ) 

        However, even if we accept your thesis that he was sincere, as Bill McKeever points when it comes to the Joseph Smith Translation he was a hypocrite: 

        “On October 15, 1843, Joseph Smith delivered a sermon in which he declared, ‘I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.’
        (History of the Church 6:57) …The irony in Smith’s accusation is that he seems to be describing himself! When he took it upon himself to revise the Bible in 1830 he had no expertise in ancient languages. Would this not make him an ‘ignorant translator?’And if we find a pattern of Smith making alterations that conflicted with ancient texts, while at the same time supporting his presently held views, would that not also make him both designing and corrupt? Unfortunately, most Mormons will never consider the obvious truth that it was their founding prophet who was guilty of tampering with God’s Word. If the Joseph Smith ‘translation’ was indeed an ‘Inspired Version,’ it seems apparent that this inspiration did not begin with God, but was rather an attempt by Smith to deceive those whose admiration for him far exceeded their ability to discern.”
         (Bill McKeever, “The ‘Inspired Version’ – Inspired by Whom?”; Mormon Researched, July-August 2011) Now I know that you look at the evidence and draw different conclusions but, personally, I think that the evidence leads strongly to Joseph Smith, Jr. to being a masterful, charming, and skillful con-man. After all didn’t his own personal secretary testify regarding Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon … “This then is the conclusion of the whole matter; they lie by revelation, swindle by revelation, cheat and defraud by revelation, run away by revelation, and if they do not mend their ways, I fear that they will at last be damned by revelation.”(Warren Parrish, Letter to the Editor of The PAINESVILLE REPUBLICAN; Feb. 5, 1838; http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/OH/painerep.htm ; bolding added for emphasis)

        … after he was no longer under the influence of Joseph Smith, Jr.?

        • Anonymous Reply

          FWA- “But George couldn’t those “great lengths” also be accounted for as the standard diversionary tactics that con-men use to dissuade their “mark(s)” that they’re being conned? ”
          Of course they “could” be Fred. But having examined and worked out what he was doing, I don’t think they were. These things are way to elaborate, and it is clear from the documents that not even his scribes understood what he was doing.

          FWA- “In addition, let’s not forget that Joseph Smith was being compensated for his role as “prophet”

          Of course he was being compensated as a prophet, just as most pastors are compensated. Does compensation really mean that we should call him a conman. By your own logic every clergyman is a conman as is my doctor. Come on Fred have some Christian compassion for the people you study.

          “”On October 15, 1843, Joseph Smith delivered a sermon in which he declared, ‘I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.’ 
          (History of the Church 6:57) ”
          The humorous thing here Fred is that Joseph Smith believed this BECAUSE he thought the Masonic legends were accurate, and not contained in the Bible, therefore he restored them. This is not the act of conman, but the act of a sincere believer who had been conned by believing Masonic myths were accurate.

          • Fred W. Anson

            YOU WROTE
            “Of course he was being compensated as a prophet, just as most pastors are compensated. Does compensation really mean that we should call him a conman. By your own logic every clergyman is a conman as is my doctor.”

            MY RESPONSE
            George, the key difference is that most clergymen and doctor don’t reputations[1] for being con-men prior to becoming “clergymen”. And those clergymen and doctors that do have always been legitimately viewed with suspicion.

            Further, even BELIEVING LdS Scholar C. Jesse Groesbeck has postulated that much of Smith’s core life motivation was to deliver his family from crushing poverty. And he wasn’t the first faith to suggest this.
            (see https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/064-22-29.pdf ; https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/shop/products/?product_id=362&category=3 ; https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/shop/products/?product_id=843&category=3 )

            If this is the case then for Smith compensation became THE driving motivation for his work rather than any type of divine calling. It also explains much – like sending Olivery Cowdery and Hyrum Page to Toronto in 1830 in an attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon for example.
            (see http://www.i4m.com/think/history/sell_BOM_copyright.htm )

            YOU WROTE
            “Given that I have seen the data and you have not, please reserve judgement on my ideas until you have seen the data. That of course is the gentlemanly and scholarly thing to do, and for that matter the Christian one.”

            MY RESPONSE
            George, well I don’t know what data I’ve failed to consider and I always find your work fascinating and worthy of consideration and publication. I don’t think that the issue here.

            However, as I’ve stated before I also find your conclusions a bit too accommodating of Joseph Smith, Jr.’s clearly bad behavior and character flaws. IMO you give the man far too much benefit of the doubt and you have a tendency to “spin” things in that direction in Bushman, Givens, Turley like fashion.

            However, that won’t stop me from recommending your work to every serious Mormon Studies Scholar who will listen to me (after all I recommend the work of those gentlemen). IMO, you’re really onto something here. However, I think that you can expect to see a lot of the kind of push back that I’m giving coming your way once it’s been given a broader market than our little community here. So you can consider me your venting coaching if you like because you can expect to see comments like mine in the reviews written by Mormon outsiders, while the insiders, will probably gush.

            Candidly I think that if you were studying David Koresh, L. Ron Hubbard, or Ellen G. White you wouldn’t be nearly as accommodating your conclusions about your object of study.

            As for the topics that I covered in my last post I’ve listened to your work and appreciated but I’ve ALSO studied enough to stand by everything that I’ve said. I’m sorry that makes you feel that I’m being “ungentlemenly, unscholarly or unChristian” but I don’t think that others would agree with your assessment.

            If I have uncivil I apologize but, frankly, I don’t think that I have.

            YOU WROTE
            “Frankly, I have to say your approach to Mormonism seems strangely close to what Richard Bauckham complained about in terms of scholars studying the New Testament.”

            MY RESPONSE
            LOL. Well I don’t agree with everything Richard Bauckham says or does either.

            In the end we are each our own man – you, Bauckham, and I – with our own callings and body of work – just as it should be.

            If we didn’t wonderfully, glorious, outlandish public disagreements what fun would scholarship be?

            😉

            [1] And in Smith’s case a court conviction (for which the judge gave him “foot bail” due to his young age.
            (see http://www.ils.unc.edu/~unsworth/mormon/jsconviction.html )

          • Anonymous

            Let me make two briefs points. Spend about 10 minutes with an open mind taking what you know about Mormon history and apply it to your claim that Joseph Smith decided to publish the Book of Abraham in Nauvoo because he needed another piece of scripture to “con” his followers and keep them going. I think a few moments of reflection on the historical time line and historical facts should quickly show you that such an argument is fraught with historical difficulties and contradictory evidence.

            Next please spend another ten or so minutes think about the evidence I have provided so far about the nature and content of the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith’s interest in Masonry and put the pieces together for yourself. Joseph Smith’s motives for publishing the BoA when he did, and his motivations behind that move, are perfectly obvious upon reflection.

            Finally you bring up Joseph Smith’s money digging activities. I must say that is a extremely weak argument. When the money-digging culture was examined during the Early Modern time period, what was the percentage of participants who were true believers? Next re look at the the data surrounding Joseph and his families money digging activities, and ask yourself under which model does the data (true believer or con-man) provide the strongest explanatory power.  

          • Michael Waltman

             Also last time I checked con men couldn’t raise the dead by the laying on of hands (William Huntington & Eliza Rigdon), nor could they affect a non member (Prescinda Huntington) from witnessing the gift of tongues (she didn’t drink the peotee spiked wine, she was a non member) when her niece and another man stood up in the Kirkland temple and sang in perfect harmony in tongues. She came to mock and left saying, that the gift of tongues was the most solemn thing she had ever heard.

            George these critics have to throw out a mountain of spiritual evidence. I don’t know what their motive is. A con man doesn’t send Bishop George Miller to Ohio and Indiana to back ground check John C Bennett. A con man doesn’t send an envoy back to kirkland to settle all the debts and square up with those that lost their money in the Kirkland anti-banking society. A con man doesn’t unbutton his shirt to William Law and let him aim and take a shot at close range with a loaded gun (that misfires) if he doesn’t believe God is watching over him (Sarah Stoddard diary). I think most of all a con man doesn’t keep his family close for they would expose him. Yet his family was behind him all the way.

            Bennett who was a con man, left his wife(kept her afar), was kicked out of his lodge, was duping women into having sex with him, was using his position to get laid and paid then, pinned all that crap on Joseph, When it was Joseph that exposed him! Why would Joseph expose that if he were involved as many critics claim. Sarah Pratt in an interview with Joseph Smith III after the death of Orson, said “You need have no such fear,” she repeated. “Your
            father was never guilty of an action or proposal of an improper
            nature in my house, towards me, or in my presence, at any time
            or place. There is no truth in the reports that have been circulated
            about him in this regard. He was always the Christian gentleman,
            and a noble man.”. to this her neighbor Dr Benedict cried out “My God! What damned liars these people are! Here for
            years I have been told that your father had Mrs. Pratt for
            one of his spiritual wives and was guilty of improper relations
            with her. Now I hear from her own lips, in unmistakable language,
            that it was not true. What liars! What liars!”

            It’s like Moroni said, your name will be had for good or for evil… It’s a choice people have to make, do they dwell on the good or bad there is a lot of evidence for each and way more good than evil IMO.

        • ... Reply

          Fred-

          You said-

          “Now I know that you look at the evidence and draw different conclusions
          but, personally, I think that the body of evidence leads strongly to
          Joseph Smith, Jr. to being a masterful, charming, and skillful con-man. 

          After all didn’t his own personal secretary testify regarding Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon … 

          “This
          then is the conclusion of the whole matter; they lie by revelation,
          swindle by revelation, cheat and defraud by revelation, run away by
          revelation, and if they do not mend their ways, I fear that they will at
          last be damned by revelation.”(Warren Parrish, Letter to the Editor of The PAINESVILLE REPUBLICAN; Feb. 5, 1838; http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/db… ; bolding added for emphasis)

          … after he was no longer under the influence of Joseph Smith, Jr.? ”

          I noticed on your facebook that the bible is your favorite book… I am not sure if you were serious or being facetious.

          If you are still a Christian with a belief in the Bible, may I suggest another possible biblical-prophetic scenario that explains the very strange and hypocritical behavior of Joseph Smith-

          http://onewhoiswatching.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/four-steps-in-losing-your-innocence-part-6-3/

          If you were being facetious please disregard this response.

          • Fred W. Anson

            Thank you Watcher that was an interesting read. And, yes, I believe that we also have come to different conclusions regarding Joseph Smith, Jr. 

            However, we both agree that modern Mormonism is in a state of apostasy both Biblically and relative to the Earliest Mormonism (the “Phase one- The Kirtland/Jackson County Apostasy- 1831-1838” as you put it. I actually point to 1835, but that’s OK – the exact date is impossible to really pinpoint) but that’s another topic for another day I guess. 

            And I think that if you read my blogs you’ll get a better “flavor” for what my stance is generally speaking. Here’s the link: 
            http://mormonexpression.com/blogs/author/fred/

          • ...

            Thanks for taking the time to review the post and thanks for the link… sounds like we do have some common ground.

  4. jeremy Reply

    So, I posted during the live podcast, but wasn’t sure if it got through. When referencing places in Antiquities of Freemasonry, could you provide the page numbers? I wanted to follow along.
    Great podcast, BTW.

    • JB Reply

      I’ll second this, I was likewise asking for some page numbers during the live recording so that we could follow along.

      Also, to George: I seem to remember you referencing an interesting letter by Cowdery or Pratt that made mention of the ‘pillars of Enoch’ thing; where could we find that?  And for my other question: for those of us who want to look more into the history of the issues you’ve mentioned in this podcast and the episodes preceding it, what are the primary sources we’d be best served by examining?  (Aside, of course, from Oliver’s “Antiquities of Free-Masonry”.)

      • Anonymous Reply

        Hey JB – I would be more than happy to provide the references. The Oliver Cowdery letter can be found on the BOAP (see link below) and the second reference is from John Taylor.

        But leaving matters before the flood, to be explained when Enoch’s pillar is found, and the record it encloses made public, there is plenty of proof to warrant the belief that ruins may be expected all over the earth. …  And with the superior knowledge of men like Noah, Shem, (who was Melchisedec [Melchizedek]) and Abram, the father of the faithful, three contemporaries, holding the keys of the highest order of the priesthood: connecting the creation, and fall; memorising [memorizing] the righteousness of Enoch; and glorying in the construction of the ark for the salvation of a world … wonder who peopled the ruinous cities of the south, or reared the time defying mounds of the north? (Taylor, John. Times and Seasons. 15 DEC 1844  VI:743-748)

        In one of the previous threads I gave a list of general books on Masonry that I would suggest reading. I would start there, but if you have a specific area of interest, then I would be happy to give you some titles. Can you narrow down your request to help me hone in on what you are interested?

        http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/Letters-cowdery.html

    • Anonymous Reply

      Hey Jeremy, I was so engrossed in the podcast that I didn’t pay any attention to the chat feed. My sincerest apologies. Since I can’t remember all of things I quoted, I will provide the most relevant passages.

      —Prophet Priests and Kings—
      Adam, however, was yet living, and his authority was sufficient to restrain the race over which he possessed the supreme government, as king, priest, and prophet… (Oliver, 86) Melchizedek or Shem resided at Salem, and maintained the true Patriarchal dignity of king, priest, and prophet, living in the immediate practice of our science, and the genuine worship of the most high God.  (Oliver, 1823 p. 165)Jesus Christ united the threefold offices of the ancient patriarchs in his own person, for was a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec; who was no other, according to the best authorities, than Shem, the son of Noah, who was king, priest, and prophet of his family; and in that capacity blessed Abraham, who was his child in the ninth generation. (Oliver, 276) The rod, or sceptre, was the visible agent which God thought proper to make use of for the deliverance of his people from captivity; and it was emblematical of the united authority which Moses possessed, as king, priest, and prophet. (Oliver, 345) In the early ages of the world, every head of a family united in his own person the threefold office of priest, prophet, and king. (Oliver, 274)

      In every society, however constituted, some form of government is necessary to preserve a spirit of subordination amongst its members ; and to prevent it from degenerating into contempt or oblivion. In this respect also Masonry supports its claim to respect and veneration. An argument favourable to its beneficial tendency may be deduced from the excellence of its government; which is founded upon a pattern the most pure and perfect; the government of the Jewish and Christian churches. …Hence if the government of the Jewish church, established under the immediate superintendence of God, or if the Christian church, modelled by Jesus Christ, be considered as specimens of perfection, the same must be admitted of Freemasonry; as one of its orders, confessedly not Christian, is governed by a king, a priest, and a prophet, invested with an equal dignity; and the rest of Masonry, which inculcates the only true religion, is directed by a mode of government equally perfect, and equally unobjectionable. (Oliver, AoF (1823) p. 274-6)

      —Adam and Seth Masonic Traditions & the Temple —
      Placed in the garden of Eden, Adam was made acquainted with the nature of his tenure, and taught, with the worship of his Maker, that science which is now termed Masonry. This constituted his chief happiness in Paradise, and was his only consolation after his unhappy fall. …  On this unhappy dereliction from purity are founded some of those characteristic insignia of Masonry, which convey a lasting remembrance of our degenerate state, as well as the glorious promise of redemption. These TOKENS were unnecessary when man was in a state of perfection; but after the Fall they were practised by Adam, and are considered as the immoveable landmarks of the order unto this day. The Five events attending this transgression and expulsion from Paradise; viz. the transgression, shame, sentence, prayer, and promise, are distinguished amongst Masons by such significant tokens of reverence, penitence, sympathy, fatigue and faith, that the unhappy consequences of the three former, as well as the hope derived to mankind from the two latter, can never be blotted from the recollection. …One grand principle of antient Masonry was to preserve alive in men’s minds the true knowledge of God, and the great idea of an atonement for sin by animal sacrifices; typical of the one sacrifice of the Lamb without spot, as a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. This was the animating idea which increased men’s faith, wheresoever Masonry was practised… (Oliver, G. Antiquities of Freemasonry (1823) p. 39,43-44)

      Seth, the son of Adam, was educated by his father in the strictest principles of piety and devotion ; and when he arrived at years of maturity was admitted to a participation in the mysteries of Masonry, to which study he applied himself with the most diligent assiduity. The progress he made in this science is fully demonstrated by the purity of his life. Associating with himself the most virtuous men of his age, they formed lodges, and discussed the great principles of Masonry with FREEDOM, FERVENCY, and ZEAL. These Masons, in a few centuries, made such progress in the science, that they received from their contemporaries the appellation of SONS OF LIGHT, or SONS OF GOD. Their system of Masonry was purely theological: its illustrations explained the nature and attributes of God, the creation of the world, and the unhappy fall of man. It pointed out the difference between moral good and evil, and compared the happiness of Paradise with the pain, disease, and misery of this wretched world ; that the mind might be incited to avoid a much greater punishment, and aspire to the enjoyment of a much higher degree of happiness in a future state. It inculcated the precepts of religion, and the necessity of divine worship; the sanctification of the seventh day, with other particulars which every Mason is acquainted with, who is master of our inimitable Fellow Craft’s Lecture. (Oliver, G. Antiquities of Freemasonry (1823) p. 39,43-44)

  5. tim Reply

    Hi George,

    I have enjoyed the series thus far and look forward to the final one, as well. Thanks so much to you and John for putting this together for us. 

    I hope it is o.k. to ask a couple questions that I have been wondering about. 

    My ancestors, Daniel and Orson Spencer were tracted out in the Berkshires, Massachusetts in the late 1830s. After they moved to Nauvoo, they were quite quickly some of the insiders (the quorum of 50, etc). I have always wondered if they were Masons before they arrived. In reading Daniel Spencer’s history, he speaks of getting married (early 1800s) and building a hall for the wedding and then donating the hall to the Masonic branch there in West Stockbridge. That makes me think he was probably a Mason. Did Joseph feel greater affinity for those who may have arrived in Nauvoo already with that background? And would that be a factor as to why they were so quickly brought in to the ‘inside?’ 

    I would be interested as to what you think about that? I can’t find any family history that confirms they were already masons. It is just a suspicion of mine, until I one day have time to research it all.

    Thanks in advance if you have time to answer my questions.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Hey Tim- I can suggest a couple of places to look to determine if you ancestors were Freemasons. First I would get a copy of the Minutes of the Nauvoo Lodge. See if your ancestors are listed as some of the founding members of that lodge. Do you by any chance know when they arrived in Nauvoo? Also, like the Mormons, Masons tend to be record takers and to keep these records for YEARS. I would check with the Grand Lodge in the states where he resided to see if he was a member.

      There is some indication that Joseph Smith “tended” to have a greater affinity for members of the craft. This could explain some of the dynamics you are seeing. If you would like some help tracking down such information, or would like to share with me what you have found so far, the please contact me backchannel at georgemillerpm@gmail.com.

  6. Watcher Reply

    George

    1-    You briefly mentioned the Book of Joseph. We know from historical documents that Joseph at least began translating it. Yet there is not record of the translation. Are you aware of the alleged book of Joseph that has surfaced within the last two decades and do you have an opinion as to whether it is authentic or not?

    2-    You have postulated that there was two Masonic traditions present in the Book of Mormon, one representing a Godly one and one representing a Satanic one. In section 38 and perhaps others the Lord informs the newly established church that “the enemy is combined” “in the secret chambers” and is planning the destruction of the church ( or leaders of the church) . Do you have an opinion as to which historical figures living at that time the Lord might have been referring to? If so, who are they and were they associated with the dark side of Masonry?

    3-    You mentioned the journal entry claiming that Hyrum was now to become the prophet by birthright. I have seen that journal entry but I question the accuracy of the journal entry or at least the statement, if in fact Joseph really said it, as it is not consistent with section 124. 124 states that Hyrum was being called to two separate and distinct offices, one was the “office of priesthood” and the other was to replace Oliver Cowdery as the assistant president of the church to be a prophet seer and revelator to work in concert with Joseph Smith. According to 124 it was the calling of “office of the priesthood” that Hyrum was called to by virtual of his birthright, not his calling to be a prophet of the Church.. in other words, Hyrum was replacing his father Joseph Smith Senior as the presiding patriarch of the church by virtue of his birth. Hyrums birthright had nothing to do with his calling to replace Oliver Cowdery as a co-president of the church nor did OC hold the position as an assistant president of the church because of his birthright.

    4-    If think you quoted John Taylor as stating that a third priesthood had been revealed which was patriarchal. Although he may has said that, his statement is not congruent with the events of church history or the words of Joseph smith which indicated that Peter James and John restored the offices pertaining to the patriarchal priesthood and that the third priesthood was the priesthood of Melchizedek… which was restored in 1831 AFTER the aaronic and patriarchal priesthoods had been restored by angels.  LDS fundamentalists inaccurately assume that Patriarchal priesthood is the third and highest priesthood as well…. perhaps it is from the Taylor quote that they get this notion. This distinction interrelates to the phrase prophets priests and kings….
    Prophets=Aaronic  (visitation of angels)
    Priests= Patriarchal-evangelical (administering the ordinances of the gospel)
    Kings- Melchizedek (fulness of the priesthood with ability to command the elements)

    5-    I believe that it was not so much as the anti Masonic sentiment on the national political level that discouraged Masonry among the saints in Kirtland as it was the anti Masonic statements in the Book of Mormon. I find it strange that you keep trying to downplay how incredibly anti-Masonic the Book of Mormon was and how much it did influence people’s view in the early years of the restoration. I think that you would have more credibility promoting you idea that a good Masonry exists in the Book of Mormon if you would give credit to the severe warning about secret combinations which IMO clearly includes masonry.

    6-    Your attempts to suggest Masonic origins in the Kirtland era and Regarding your linking of the “washings and anointing” in the Kirtland temple as simplified versions of the washings and anointings in the Nauvoo Temple are a HUGE stretch. I believe Johns’ characterization of Kirtland being a big protestant church is much more accurate. Do you have any credible historical documentation that links the washings in the Kirtland Temple to anything other than the ordinance of “washing of feet”? (which IMO was not an ordinance of salvation but rather it was an ordinance of the ministry.)

    7-    You state that the revelation on polygamy came while translating the bible… where do you get that from? Any credible historical source? The chapter heading of section 132 done by McConkie states that the doctrines and principles contained in it originated in 1831, however, I believe  McConkie is referring to the supposed Lamanite- polygamy revelation talked about in a letter by WW Phelps many years after the supposed event took place. (about the intermarrying between white gentiles Mormon brethren and Lamanite women for the purpose making the Lamanites white and delightsome.

    Watcher

    • Anonymous Reply

      (1) “You briefly mentioned the Book of Joseph. ”
      There is no indication that Joseph Smith underwent a formal translation of the hieroglyphs contained on the Book of Joseph (Book of the Dead Belonging to Tshemmin), but instead he likely interpreted the various vignettes contained in the record. The remaining fragments of this papyri has been translated by I believe Michael D. Rhodes and they are as far I know accurate.

      (2) “In section 38”
      I would rather not speculate on that at this time.  🙂

      (3) “You mentioned the journal entry claiming that Hyrum”
      Joseph Smith gave the speech on the 16th of July and it caused such an uproar that he was required to speak on the subject again on the 23rd of July.  We have two account written about the talk by William Clayton and Willard Richards and a third reference to the event by Brigham Young. Given the apparent uproar caused by the event, the multiple attestation in contemporary journals, and Joseph Smith’s readdressing the crowd again the next week strongly suggests that the account is accurate.

      (4) “If think you quoted John Taylor as stating that a third priesthood”
      I was quoting an oration given by Joseph Smith on 27 Jun 1843 in the Temple Grove. The speech was recorded by Willard Richards, Franklin D. Richards, James Burgess, William Clayton and Levi Richards. Each the accounts is fairly similar to the others and I read to you the account of Willard Richards which was recorded in Joseph Smith’s Diary.

      (5)  “I believe that it was not so much as the anti Masonic sentiment….”
      You will have to wait till I publish my paper to fully examine the data yourself and then you can make an informed opinion. I am not going to lay out the full story here in this setting.

      (6) “Your attempts to suggest Masonic origins in the Kirtland era …”
      Yes I have data to support this claim. However, this is not the type of academic forum in which such data is shared. 

      (7) “You state that the revelation on polygamy came while translating the bible… ”
      Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Lyman Johnson, Mosiah Hancock and Mary Elizabeth Rollins all made the claim that Joseph Smith had received a revelation on polygamy in 1831-2. My own examination of the JST and its lack of additions when Joseph Smith had stories to add from “Antiquities of Freemasonry” ready at hand, which he later added in our Book of Abraham, provides independent evidence for Joseph Smith receiving a revelation in 1831 to practice polygamy during the period in which he was preparing the Inspired Translation of the Bible.

  7. Ella Menno Reply

    Fascinating.  Thanks for taking so much time to try to explain this concept.  You touched on the female wing of Masonry and polygamy, but I really didn’t feel like it was complete.  How, exactly, is polygamy related?  I don’t know of too many Masons who are polygamist.  I get that Joseph Smith was pulling from the story of Abraham as found in Masonic texts, and Abraham was polygamist, but how do the two really relate?

    • Anonymous Reply

      Freemasonry and polygamy are not related. It is simply that Joseph Smith’s use of “Antiquities of Freemasonry” provides independent evidence for an early 1831 dating of a revelation on polygamy. 

      I was trying to make a distinct point in the podcast, and it may have gotten “lost in translation”. Joseph Smith had a book called “Antiquities of Freemasonry” (AoF) which was a retelling of the biblical narrative from the creation to the time of Solomon. It spends extensive time discussing how in the Ur of the Chaldees that Abraham’s father and the entire community were idol worshippers and that their idolatrous religion was run by Egyptians. It goes on to discuss how Abraham was unimpressed by the Egyptian mysteries and instead sought out Shem/Melchizedek under whose hand he was initiated a Mason in the process of his Masonic initiation he was introduced to the gospel message. It then goes on to tell how Abraham returned to the Ur of the Chaldees and first converted his father, then his family and the sought to convert others in the city. This angered the Egyptian priests who sought his life.

      AoF also tells how Abraham was fascinated by astronomy and studied the science deeply while in the Ur of the Chaldees. It goes on to tell how Abraham specifically taught the science of astronomy to the Egyptian when he visited there later in life.

      The point is that when Chandler arrives in Kirtland Joseph Smith opens one of the papyri and sees Facsimile 1 in which a man is being sacrificed on a lion couch with idols under it. When he skips to the end of the roll he is sees a picture of an Egyptian court with stars in the heavens drawn into the vignette. Joseph Smith immediately recalls the story from AoF and believes that God has without question delivered to him Abraham’s original scriptures “written by his own hand”. Joseph then begins to translate the text, and is able to decipher in the hieroglyphs the story he had previously read in AoF. At this point there is no question in Joseph Smith’s mind that God has delivered him the writings of Abraham.

      Within the Egyptian hieroglyphs he translates are the ideas that men must become “Kings” and “Priests” and more importantly several of the hieroglyphs have both male AND female forms which refer to “princesses” and “queens”.

      In 1831 Joseph Smith doubted his own revelation and refused to act upon it; as any rational and intelligent person would. However, now in Joseph Smith’s mind, God had delivered a blatant message to Joseph Smith in the physical form of a scroll written by Abraham, who had himself practiced polygamy, which demanded Joseph Smith attention. Additionally, another of the scrolls had a picture of what he believed was Jacob standing with his polygamous wives at the judgement bar of God. Joseph could no longer deny nor doubt his 1831 revelation on polygamy. It is no surprise then that within months he would marry his first polygamous wife Fanny Alger. That was the point I was trying to make.

  8. iamse7en Reply

    George, is there anything in Masonry that suggests that Adam is our god, or the father of our spirits, or the father of Jesus? I know George Q. Cannon suggested this principle was taught in old Jewish texts, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it is somewhere in Masonry:

    Brother Cannon said there was a learned Doctor that wanted to be baptized. … He (the doctor) is satisfied that the doctrine of the plurality of God and that Adam is our Father is a true doctrine revealed from God to Joseph & Brigham. For this same doctrine is taught in some of the old Jewish records which have never been in print and I know Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young have had access to, and the Lord has revealed this doctrine unto them or they could not have taught it. President Young said if all that God had revealed was in fine print it would more than fill this room but very little is written or printed which the Lord has revealed. (George Q. Cannon, Journal of Wilford Woodruff, 9/4/1860)

    • Anonymous Reply

      There is no suggestion of this in Masonry. However, Joseph Smith’s interpretation of deification comes from an amalgamation of the ideas from Hosea Ballou’s Universalist and Masonic teachings and his own readings of Antiquities of Freemasonry. AoF claims that mortal humans could obtain the threefold office of prophet, priest and king in this life. Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the Royal Arch ritual led him to the same conclusions, and his interpretation was to some extent guided by the interpretations of Masonic ritual held by Hosea Ballou and Salem Town. Ideas on deification are of course the first step to the Adam-God doctrine.

      The second step to the Adam-God doctrine is the pre-existence. While Masonry does not teach pre-existence, Joseph Smith’s ideas on this DID originate in Masonic and Universalistic texts. As a good friend of mine over at NOM (epiginosko) noted, Hosea Ballou began teaching the doctrine of pre-existence in Vermont, and his Masonic orations contain discussion of this as well. With these seeds in mind, Joseph Smith found confirming evidence for this in his readings of AoF.

      The next piece of the puzzle comes from Joseph Smith’s quasi-Masonic text, Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia, which talks about a hierarchy of powers in heavens with some “intelligences” presiding over whole planets. This piece of the puzzle was combined with Masonic and Universalist focus on the “family of God” and the familial relationship between God and Man.

      All these various Masonic and Universalist elements, filtered through the mind of Joseph Smith, is what likely gives us the Adam-God doctrine.

      • JMW Reply

        Brigham in 1877 adds the lecture on Adam-God at the veil (terrestial to celestial veil). L John Nuttall records that in his journal that the end of Jan and early Feb He, Brigham, John Taylor and Willford Woodruff are all committing the endowment actor scripts to paper so they have a “master copy” that could be copied and taken to other temples as they go online. I guess Brigham foresaw “Temple Drift” as a problem.  From what I can find this teaching about celestial beings being able to “fall into their creations”, using the wording from the Nauvoo expositor against Joseph, stayed in the temple until 1903-05 and was then taken out. One could argue that Gen 6:1-4 is referencing this. Hell the ancient astronaut theory screams Adam-God all day long lol 🙂 There parallels are endless.

        It was always Brigham’s testimony that Joseph taught him the Adam-God doctrine in Nauvoo. Do you think it originated with Joseph? Is there anything to suggest outside the accusation in the Expositor, Brigham’s testimony, Joseph’s 1839 sermon to the twelve where he says Adam holds the keys of the universe to pin Joseph as the real author of the doctrine?Is there anything in Masonry where highest  or higher levels condescend down and help walk lower levels up? Which is one of the main principles.I think the key principles of Adam-God are, the Father has to put his head on the chopping block and make a sacrifice of knowledge/power in order to condescend into mortality again and bear up children in the flesh. This was done willing by both he and Eve. Then like good parents, they walk them, teach them hand in hand how to ascend back into the fullness of glory. The wrench in the cogs was Satan, he as the anomaly, influences the children of Adam away and lengthens the amount of time on this Earth past Adam/Eve’s allotted life span.It’s almost as if the millennium could be looked at as an instant replay of life to show that all of the Father’s children could have been born(reborn in this case), raised, walked back to immortality in a 1000 years (Adams life span) had Satan not been screwing things up. Even Moses 7 when Enoch sees God weeping and asks why, he says, none of my creations are as wicked as these thy brethren. This after he looks down and sees the Earth wrapped in chains and shrouded in darkness. One could ask, why? Why is this Earth so bad? Satan… He admits even in the Temple ceremony he is mimicking what the other Gods have done in the past. Giving the fruit to Adams and Eves. He’s not stating he’s seen other Satans do this, he’s at the point where he thinks he’s a God mimicking the vestments, aprons etc like you talk about.

        I ramble anyways, great great podcast! loved every second of it. Best!

  9. Anonymous Reply

    George, Have you discussed the fact that Joseph Smith later married Lucinda Morgan Harris the widow of William Morgan?  What’s up with that?  http://www.rickgrunder.com/Newspapers%20for%20Sale/lucindaharris.htm   

    • Anonymous Reply

      No we didn’t get around to discussing that aspect of the story. Here is the lowdown as far as I can tell. Morgan spent time in Canandaigua in 1825ish and he likely attended lodge there. This is important because Joseph Smith Sr. was a member of that lodge and it was his home lodge. Thus it is likely that the Smith’s personally knew William Morgan. This possibility is strengthen by testimony long after Morgan’s death that Morgan knew the Smith’s and was inclined toward Joseph Smith’s religious ideas. However, there is also reason to be suspicious of this late reminiscence.

      Note that my own research suggests that Joseph Smith viewed the abduction of Morgan as a reemergence of the Spurious tradition of Masonry, carried by the Moderns to America. The story here is very complex, and I am saving it for future publication. What you may not be aware of is that Masons all take an oath to aid and assist the widows and orphans, especially of a fallen brother. When Morgan went missing, literally 100s of Masons tried to give Lucinda money, to set her up financially and care for her monetarily. This was due to their obligation as Masons, and in part due to guilt. Remember that many Masons abhorred what had happened to Morgan, and likely understood that he wanted to print the ritual for ease of memorization. Anyways, given that it was the Masons who had kidnapped her husband, she refused their help, an understandable action. Instead the members of the anti-Masonic movement largely took care of her financially.As the anti-Masonic movement began to wind down and she remarried, she fell out of the public spotlight. When she and her husband joined Mormonism, Joseph Smith became acquainted with the family. Lucinda’s new husband was a much older man, and Lucinda, according to reports, was a bit of a looker. Joseph Smith’s interest in taking Lucinda as a polygamous wife are likely complicated, but I would suggest, that in part, Joseph, who already thought of himself as a Mason, likely felt the Masonic obligation to care for William Morgan’s widow. Because Joseph was Joseph, his means of doing this involved polygamy.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Thanks George.  I can’t wait to find what other treasures will be unearthed in your next podcast.  This is fascinating stuff!

  10. Anonymous Reply

    [I posted this on another forum and I thought it would cross-post it here]

    Let me provide one word of caution in analyzing what I have said and in interpreting what I have presented so far. First of all there is MUCH more to the Book of Mormon than what is borrowed from Masonry. The discovery narrative of the BoM does borrow from Masonry. The BoM’s ideas and conceptualization of priesthood is borrowed from Masonry. The Speculative (priesthood) and Spurious (secret combinations) traditions derive from Masonry. However, there is more to the Book of Mormon than these simple elements. I will also simply say, without a lot of comment, that I think the Book of Mormon is actually a much more complex and deep text than has been hitherto understood. 

    The other thing I should mention is that I also look at Joseph Smith’s religious construct to be more complicated than just a borrowing from Freemasonry. To illustrate this, I am actually going to draw on Masonic imagery. One of the most important symbols within Masonry is the three Masonic pillars which are known as Wisdom (East), Strength (West) and Beauty (South). In drawings, the pillar of beauty is the central and tallest pillar and serves to balance the pillars of Wisdom and Strength and I to some extent I think of Freemasonry as this central pillar. The second pillar of Joseph Smith’s religious temple is the Universalist ideas of Hosea Ballou which I associate with the pillar of Wisdom. The third pillar of Joseph Smith’s religious edifice is Christian Kabbalistic thought which came to Joseph Smith through his reading of Henry Cornelius Agrippa writings in De Occulta Philosophia. 

    What Joseph Smith created in scripture and in the Mormon community was not simply a borrowing and minor adaptation of Freemasonry, instead he synthesized elements from all three traditions to create something brand new and really something that was greater than the sum of its parts. 

    Such a synthesis had been tried multiple times in the past, but each endeavor had largely come to naught. One of the reasons I have great respect for Joseph, and why I in good conscious call him a prophet, is that he managed to do something nobody before him had successfully accomplished. Joseph Smith seemed to almost seamlessly combine the elements of mysticism with rationalism, individualism with community, practical earthly living with the heavenly vision of a Zion on Earth. It is this vision of Joseph that enthralls me and brings me back time and time to reevaluate brother Joseph. 

    Let me also comment for a moment on the process of revelation. If there is a God, and my own deeply personal and moving experiences give me Faith and Hope that God exists, I believe that he ONLY acts through natural processes that are largely known to modern science. Because of this way of thinking, I fully expect to find a paper and mental trail in all of Joseph Smith’s revelations. Too many Mormons want to set the prophet Joseph up on a pedestal and assume that he is somehow special and different that you or I, but instead Joseph wanted everyman to become a prophet, priest and king. Joseph Smith’s “modus operandi” for receiving revelation is the same as that which we today can receive revelation.

    I think Joseph Smith’s life is both prescriptive and proscriptive in helping us understand what it means to don the robe, mantle and staff of a prophet; and his life exemplifies both the capabilities of a true prophetic Son of God can have on society, as well as the pitfalls a jaunt in the prophetic shoes is likely to bring. 

    I would also note that describing Mormonism as simply Masonic is inadequate and somewhat misleading if one doesn’t examine the interplay between the pillars that stand in their majesty to the east and west of the beautiful pillar of Masonry.

  11. Fred W. Anson Reply

    @JMW
    I’m posting up here so as to avoid this discussion board “indent responses until they’re illegible” phenomenon.

    Well JMW, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – the onus isn’t on skeptics and critics to prove the claims of Joseph Smith, Jr.

    Further and unfortunately, your post contained a number of naked assertions with no supporting evidence to back them. Let me list them for you:
    1) “Also last time I checked con men couldn’t raise the dead by the laying on of hands (William Huntington & Eliza Rigdon”

    2) A con man doesn’t send an envoy back to kirkland to settle all the debts and square up with those that lost their money in the Kirkland anti-banking society.

    3) Bennett who was a con man, left his wife (kept her afar), was kicked out of his lodge, was duping women into having sex with him, was using his position to get laid and paid then, pinned all that crap on Joseph…

    So if you want to make these assertions the courtesy of some actual evidence to support them would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

    And these claims – though containing some reference evidence, however light – are fallacious:

    YOU WROTE
    “nor could they [a con man] affect a non member (Prescinda Huntington) from witnessing the gift of tongues (she didn’t drink the peotee spiked wine, she was a non member) when her niece and another man stood up in the Kirkland temple and sang in perfect harmony in tongues. She came to mock and left saying, that the gift of tongues was the most solemn thing she had ever heard.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Nonsense, the Early Mormon Church didn’t “corner the market” on tongues speaking it – was a common part of the 19th Century Restorationist Movement see most prominently at Caine Ridge (see http://books.google.com/books?id=u5RFd2DMVdIC&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&dq=tongues+at+Cane+Ridge&source=bl&ots=S1zaoTCCbQ&sig=jy0ug6bdFU0U9y9GTE_g-_MMW9w&hl=en&ei=3MM9TuWoNsO5tgeU_YXxAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false ) and ANY non-member of ANY Pentecostal Church can be seen “witnessing the gift of tongues” just about any day of the week.

    So your assertion isn’t just fallacious, it’s absurd.

    YOU WROTE
    “A con man doesn’t send Bishop George Miller to Ohio and Indiana to back ground check John C Bennett.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Sure he does!

    That’s a ridiculous claim. Just because someone sends someone out to do a background check on someone doesn’t meet that their motives are pure, or noble. It just means that they wanted to gather information about the person, nothing more.

    YOU WROTE
    “A con man doesn’t unbutton his shirt to William Law and let him aim and take a shot at close range with a loaded gun (that misfires) if he doesn’t believe God is watching over him (Sarah Stoddard diary).”

    MY RESPONSE
    Well, you failed to provide your reading audience with the citation, so please allow me:

    April 1844
    Charles had another faith promoting experience. Early this morning, even while the darkness still hemmed out the light of day, Mr. Law, after he had been drinking and planning with his associates through the night, got Charles out of bed to clean and oil his gun for he said he was going to shoot the prophet, only William Law called him “old Joe Smith.” Poor Charles was frightened beyond description but Mr. Law stood over him and prodded him with his foot when Charles hesitated through fright and anxiety. Finally when Mr. Law was satisfied with the way the gun was working, he put one bullet in. He boasted that he could kill the prophet with one shot and sent Charles to bring the prophet.

    He ran as fast as he could and delivered the message but begged the prophet not to go to Mr. Law’s as Mr. Law was drunk and Charles was afraid he would carry though on his threat to shoot the prophet in cold blood. In spite of Charles’ protestations the prophet rose from bed and dressed.

    It was breaking dawn by this time. As they walked the few blocks from the mansion house to the Law residence the prophet reassured Charles that no harm would come to him that day. Charles was frightened and he said it kept racing through his mind “I am the one that cleaned the gun that is going to be used to kill the prophet” until he was sick with fear. The prophet in a final attempt to calm my dear son uttered the fateful words, “Mr. Law may some day kill me, Charles, but it won’t be today’

    As they approached their destination Mr. Law came staggering out of the house and his only greeting was angry boasts of what he intended to do. The prophet said kindly and unafraid, “You sent for me, Mr. Law?” to which Mr. Law replied with oaths that he had and that he was now going to do Nauvoo, Illinois, and indeed the whole world a great favor by disposing of the prophet with one shot.

    Calmly the prophet unbuttoned his shirt and bared his chest, then said, “I’m ready now, Mr. Law.” Charles said at this point he nearly fainted. Fear strangled him until he was speechless and paralyzed, unable to move a muscle.

    Mr. Law paced a few steps, turned, aimed, and pressed the trigger. There was complete silence, then the air rang with profanity and Mr. Law turned on Charles, accusing him of fixing the gun so it would not go off and threatening to kill even Charles, my innocent, frightened, but faithful son. The prophet, to divert Mr. Law’s blame of Charles suggested that a can be placed on the fence post for Mr. Law to take a practice shot. Relieved, Charles ran for a can and laid it on its side on the post. Mr Law paced back, took aim and fired. His ‘one shot’ streaked through the exact center of the bottom of that can. Mr. Law is well-known for his marksmanship even when drunk. Even Mr. Law was quiet as if stunned.

    The prophet buttoned up his shirt, gave Charles a meaningful look and then said, “If you are finished with me now, Mr. Law, I have other things needing to be done. Good morning.”
    (soure = http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/SStoddard.html; retrieved 2011-08-06)

    This incident isn’t widely cited by scholars because it’s veracity is disputed. First, Sarah Stoddard wasn’t an eye witness. Second, the closest corroborating account is contradictory and doesn’t validate her diary entry in the slightest:

    Jesse Price made the following affidavit:—-

    AFFIDAVIT OF JESSE PRICE BEFORE AARON JOHNSON—MURDEROUS INTENTIONS
    OF WILLIAM LAW `State of Illinois, County of Hancock, ss. On the 5th day of August, 1844, personally appeared before me, Aaron Johnson, justice of the peace in and for said county, Jesse Price; and after being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, that on or about the 18th of April, 1844, in the city of Nauvoo, county aforesaid, William Law said, `I put pistols in my pockets one night, and went to Joseph Smith’s house, determined to blow his infernal brains out, but I could not get the opportunity to shoot him then, but I am determined I will shoot him the first opportunity, and you will see blood and thunder and devastation in this place, but I shall not be here;’ and deponent saith not further.’

    (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (7 volumes) 7:227; see http://www.boap.org/LDS/History/History_of_the_Church/Vol_VII )

    So whose testimony do we trust:
    a) The believing Mormon who wasn’t there and got the story second hand (possibly embellished like the fishing stories that husbands tell wives) who was just casually jotting the incident down in her dairy, or, b) The believing Mormon who was there and was testifying under oath?

    And the behavior that Sarah Stoddard describes of Joseph Smith is hardly consistent with the character of the man who consistently fled from potential accusers and prosecutors rather than face them.
    (see http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/carthage/carthagechronology.html )

    Thus, and IMO, at best Sarah Stoddard’s dairy entry should be classified as “folk lore”, and at worst, not credible.

    YOU WROTE
    “I think most of all a con man doesn’t keep his family close for they would expose him. Yet his family was behind him all the way.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Joseph Smith consistently lied to everyone including, and especially, his own wife.

    Further, as mentioned previously in this discussion thread, he was the member who pulled the Joseph Smith, Sr. family out of poverty and then was careful to put them in key positions of power and influence in his new religion. To expose him would have subjected them to public ostracization, scorn, a loss of wealth, power and influence. Thus they had STRONG economic and social motivation to be be, “behind him all the way” and virtually NO motivation to turn on him.

    I don’t deny that Smith was smart and charming – even his 19th detractors give him that – and that he knew how to “play” his family to gain their loyalty seems obvious from the historical record.

    So, IMO, your assertion is hardly convincing and your evidence dubious.

    YOU WROTE
    “When it was Joseph that exposed him [John C. Bennett]! Why would Joseph expose that if he were involved as many critics claim.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Well JMW, that’s easy: “plausible deniability”.

    By exposing Bennett, Joseph Smith could act shocked, indignant and appalled at such immoral, ungodly, and illegality. It was a perfect cover – a precursor to Richard Nixon and so many others.

    This is supported by the historical record which shows that Joseph Smith WAS involved in everything Bennett was doing. In fact, the historical record has come to validate many, if not most, of Bennett’s accusations against Joseph Smith (see http://www.salamandersociety.com/museum/bennett/ ). So in the end it appears that Joseph Smith, Jr. just threw Bennett “under the bus” in the same way that Brigham Young did years later. (see http://www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com/jdlconfession.htm )

    YOU WROTE
    “Sarah Pratt in an interview with Joseph Smith III after the death of Orson, said “You need have no such fear,” she repeated. “Your father was never guilty of an action or proposal of an improper nature in my house, towards me, or in my presence, at any time or place. There is no truth in the reports that have been circulated about him in this regard. He was always the Christian gentleman, and a noble man.”. to this her neighbor Dr Benedict cried out “My God! What damned liars these people are! Here for years I have been told that your father had Mrs. Pratt for one of his spiritual wives and was guilty of improper relations with her. Now I hear from her own lips, in unmistakable language,
    that it was not true. What liars! What liars!”

    MY RESPONSE
    Joseph Smith III’s account of Sarah Pratt’s testimony was hardly “water tight” JMW. In recounting that same interview she told another source:

    “I saw that he [Joseph Smith III] was not inclined to believe the truth about his father, so I said to him: ‘You pretend to have revelations from the Lord. Why don’t you ask the Lord to tell you what kind of a man your father really was?’ He answered: ‘If my father had so many connections with women, where is the progeny?’ I said to him: ‘Your father had mostly intercourse with married women, and as to single ones, Dr. Bennett was always on hand, when anything happened.'”
    (Wymetal, Wilhelm Ritter von (1886), Joseph Smith, the Prophet, His Family, and His Friends: A Study Based on Facts and Documents, Salt Lake City, UT: Tribune Printing and Publishing Company, pp. 60–61)

    YOU WROTE
    “George these critics have to throw out a mountain of spiritual evidence.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Again, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – the onus isn’t on skeptics and critics to prove the claims of Joseph Smith, Jr.

    As for evidence you sure didn’t provide much.

    For the most part you just gave a bunch of faith promoting assertions with NOTHING to back them up with and the evidence that you did present was data mined and spun to be “faith promoting”

    One more time: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    YOU WROTE
    “I don’t know what their motive is.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Then let me to try to help you understand.

    Those critical of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Mormonism are trying to get truthful answers to the questions and evidences that Mormons tend to gloss over or deny. And condescending “faithful” gloss overs like your post do nothing to help move the dialog in that direction.

    YOU WROTE
    “It’s like Moroni said, your name will be had for good or for evil… It’s a choice people have to make, do they dwell on the good or bad there is a lot of evidence for each and way more good than evil IMO.”

    MY RESPONSE
    I see.

    So if someone’s critical of Joseph Smith, Jr. their name is had for “evil” and if they praise him, their name is had for “good”? Is that what you’re saying?

    If so, you DO realize that that’s a symptom of a Mind Control Cult according to the “Thought Control” section of the BITE Model don’t you?

    Thought Control
    o Need to internalize the group’s doctrine as “Truth”

    o Only “good” and “proper” thoughts are encouraged.

    o Use of thought stopping techniques, which shut down “reality testing” by stopping “negative” thoughts and allowing only “good” thoughts

    o Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate.

    (source = http://freedomofmind.com/bite/ )

    Just thought that you should know JMW. After all I know that you wouldn’t want to be accused of using Mind Control tactics and techniques!

    • Michael Waltman Reply

      I could eventually rebut this extremely large post, but it really wouldn’t influence either of us from our positions. I would like to source a few items though.

      I first would like to just comment on what you said about Sarah Pratt
      Joseph Smith III’s account of Sarah Pratt’s testimony was hardly “water
      tight” Michael. In recounting that same interview she told another
      source.
       
      Here is the full transcript. http://olivercowdery.com/smithhome/1886WWyl.htm#pg060a

      You seem of an honest mind seeking truth, She contradicts herself pretty badly throughout the piece. I think the biggest one is the statement of the witnesses that heard her testimony.

      “We, the undersigned, cordially bear witness to the excellent reputation of Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt. We feel well assured that
      Mrs. Pratt is a lady whose statements are absolutely to be depended upon. Entire frankness and a high sense of honor and
      truth are regarded in this community, where she has dwelt since 1847, as her ruling characteristics.

      The point of this interview was a slander campaign against polygamy. Sarah Pratt left Orson and was sickened by his relationship with younger wives.

      You quoted a piece of the interview (I’m copying from the url I sourced)

      “Joseph Smith, the son of the prophet, and president of the re-organized Mormon church, paid me a visit, and I had
      a long talk with him. I saw that he was not inclined
      to believe the truth about his father, so I said to him: ‘You pretend to have revelations from the Lord. Why don’t
      you ask the Lord to tell you what kind of a man your father really was?’ He answered: ‘If my father had so many
      connections with women, where is the progeny?’ I said to him: ‘Your father had mostly intercourse with married women,
      and as to single ones, Dr. Bennett was always on hand, when anything happened.’

      If she truly said to JS III, ‘Your father had mostly intercourse with married women,
      and as to single ones, Dr. Bennett was always on hand, when anything happened.’  
      Then why on Earth would her neighbor Dr Benedict proclaim that he is surrounded by liars? He witnessed the interview that contradicted her former statements and walks away satisfied that JS was a decent guy. IF they did have an argument about his character in the same interview, he wouldn’t have said that.She tells JS III his father was nothing but a gentleman and in the same session she also states he was mostly having intercourse with married women and a few single ones on the side. JS III walks away satisfied…. C’mon… That interview has Joseph sneaking around with his bossom friend Bennett AND the contradiction of him riding up to whore houses in broad daylight tying up his horse, then entering the back door to rub one off on some ugly woman. OK… Which is it? Sneaking or boldly riding up to the mistress for a pickle tickle?Just as a side thoughtThe more I look into the Polygamy/Polyandry crap the more I have to throw my hands up in frustration. EVERYONE on both sides lied, so how do you determine the truth?. Those that didn’t said they did, those that did said they didn’t. It really truly does come down to which path you want to take.

      As far as the Eliza Rigdon miracle, Yes it was a miracle. This happens after Bennett publishes the all too famous “Letter on Happiness” and exposes that Joseph tried to seduce Nancy Rigdon into plural marriage. Rigdon, Joseph and Nancy all state that letter wasn’t from Joseph in affidavits and in press…Of course it was good logic for the cause and even get attributed to him in church history…

      This was published Times and Seasons [September
      15, 1842]

      He[Sidney Rigdon] was not upon the stand to renounce his faith in Mormonism,
      as had been variously stated by enemies and licentious presses,
      but appeared to bear his testimony of its truth, and add another
      to the many miraculous evidences of the power of God. Neither
      did he rise to deliver any regular discourse, but to unfold
      unto the audience a scene of deep interest, which had occurred
      in his own family. He had witnessed many instances of the power
      of God, in this church, but never before had he seen the dead
      raised: yet, this was a thing that had actually taken place
      in his own family: his daughter Eliza was dead;— the doctor
      told him that she was gone, when, after a certain length of
      time she rose up in the bed and spoke in a very powerful tone
      to the following effect, in a supernatural manner:—and
      said to the family that she was going to leave them, being impressed
      with the idea herself, that she had only come back to deliver
      her message, and then depart again:—saying the Lord had
      said to her the very words she should relate,—and so particular
      was she in her relation, that she would not suffer any person
      to leave out a word, or add one. She called the family around
      her and bade them all farewell, with a composure and calmness
      that defies all description:—still impressed with the
      idea that she was to go back. Up to the time of her death, she
      expressed a great unwillingness to die, but after her return,
      she expressed equally as strong a desire to go back.

      She said to her elder sister, Nancy, it
      is in your heart to deny this work, and if you do, the Lord
      says it will be the damnation of your soul…. She said
      to her sisters, that the Lord had great blessings in store for
      them, if they continued in the faith; and after delivering her
      message she swooned but recovered again.

      During this time she was cold as when laid in the grave, and
      all the appearance of life, was the power of speech. She thus
      continued till the following evening, for the space of thirty
      six hours:—at which she called her father unto
      her bed and said to him, that the Lord had said to her, if he
      would cease weeping for his sick daughter, and dry up his tears,
      that he should have all the desires of his heart…. That the
      Lord had said unto her, because that her father had dedicated
      her to God, and prayed to him for her, that he would give her
      back again. This ceremony of dedicating and praying, took place
      when she was struggling in death, and continued to the very
      moment of her departure [when the doctor pronounced her dead];
      and she says the Lord told her, that it was because of this
      that she must go back again, though she herself desired to stay
      [and so she remained alive]. She said concerning
      Geo. W. Robinson, as he had denied the faith, the Lord had taken
      away one of his eye- teeth, and unless he repented, he would
      take away another.

      And concerning Dr. Bennett, that he was
      a wicked man, and that the Lord would tread him under his feet.
      Such is a small portion of what she related.

      Elder Rigdon observed, that there had been many idle tales
      and reports abroad concerning him, stating that he had denied
      the faith, but he would take the opportunity to state that his
      faith was and had been unshaken in the truth. It has also been
      rumored that I believe that Joseph Smith is a fallen prophet:—In
      regard to this, I unequivocally state, that I never thought
      so— but declare that I know he is
      a prophet of the Lord, called and chosen in this last dispensation,
      to roll on the kingdom of God for the last time.”

      Here is a witness to the event. James Sloan

      Elder James Sloan died on the 24th day of October, 1886, at
      Sacramento City, California, aged 93 years, 11 months, and 27
      days…. Bro. Sloan was educated to the profession of the law
      in Ireland and became a barrister there before he came to America….
      He was baptized in the fall of 1836 at Columbiana county, State
      of Ohio….

      He was a beautiful penman and was appointed and acted as scribe
      to the Patriarch Joseph Smith, senior, and wrote his patriarchal
      blessings…. and acted as scribe to the Patriarch Hyrum Smith,
      and Joseph Smith, the prophet…. [I]n the exodus of a large
      part of the church westward in 1847 he went to Council Bluffs,
      Iowa, where he was elected District Judge of the Pottowattomie
      district in 1850…. [H]e removed to Salt Lake City, Utah, in
      1852 [the year Brigham Young publicly introduced polygamy].
      Not liking the manner of doing things there and becoming disgusted
      with the usurpations of Brigham Young, he left…. He held himself
      aloof from all sets and parties, clung to the original doctrines
      of the church, and when we saw him in 1875 at Sacramento city,
      California, he was received into the Reorganized Church of Jesus
      Christ of Latter Day Saints, in which he remained in good standing
      and fellowship, greatly rejoicing in the work to the day of
      his death.

      He always bore a faithful testimony of the Latter Day work
      and of the divinity of Joseph Smith’s mission. He had many evidences
      of the truth of the great work of which he testified, received
      by visions, healings and by various spiritual manifestations.
      He testified to seeing Sidney Rigdon’s
      daughter raised from the dead under the hands of Joseph Smith
      the prophet, after she had been several days pronounced dead
      by the physicians. The Expositor
      3 [Oakland, California, May 1887

      As far as William D Huntington’s revival. That happened in the Mansion house. It’s slightly mentioned by his father William Huntington

      “William D, as he was living at Brother Joseph’s, was taken sick and his
      life despaired of, yet the Lord in mercy appeared in our behalf. We all
      began to mend.” http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/WHuntington.html

      The full encounter was published in the Juvenile instructor  Just another fishing story forr you I guess…

      [Elder Levi Curtis, of Springville, Utah, relates the
      following incident which, as he states, was told him by one of
      the principal parties referred to.]

      About the month of August, 1856, William D. Huntington and
      I went into Hobble Creek Canyon to get a tree or log suitable
      for making drums. After we had finished our labor and started
      for home, both of us riding on the log, our conversation
      naturally turned upon the doctrines of the Church and
      experiences of the past, when the life and labors of the Prophet
      Joseph were touched upon. This subject aroused into more than
      usual earnestness the mind and conversation of my associate.

      He said that in Nauvoo he lived in the family of and worked
      for Joseph Smith at the time the Prophet had such a wonderful
      time with the sick, when nearly everybody was stricken down and
      he himself was among the afflicted, and was one of those who
      were healed by Joseph. He said he had been sick some weeks and
      kept getting weaker, until he became so helpless that he could
      not move. Finally he got so low he could not speak, but had
      perfect consciousness of all that was passing in the room. He
      saw friends come to the bedside, look at him a moment and
      commence weeping, then turn away.

      He further stated that he presently felt easy, and
      observing his situation found that he was in the upper part of
      the room near the ceiling, and could see the body he had
      occupied lying on the bed, with weeping friends, standing around
      as he had witnessed in many cases where people had died under
      his own observation.

      About this time he saw Joseph Smith and two other brethren
      come into the room. Joseph turned to his wife Emma and asked
      her to get him a dish of clean water. This she did; and the
      Prophet with the two brethren accompanying him washed their
      hands and carefully wiped them. Then they stepped to the bed
      and laid their hands upon the head of his body, which at that
      time looked loathsome to him, and as the three stretched out
      their hands to place them upon the head, he by some means became
      aware that he must go back into that body, and started to do so.
      The process of getting in he could not remember; but when Joseph
      said “amen,” he heard and could see and feel with his body. The
      feeling for a moment was most excruciating, as though his body
      was pierced in every part with some sharp instruments.

      As soon as the brethren had taken their hands from his head
      he raised up in bed, sitting erect, and in another moment turned
      his legs off the bed.

      At this juncture Joseph asked him if he had not better be
      careful, for he was very weak. He replied, “I never felt better
      in my life,” almost immediately adding, “I want my pants.”

      His pants were found and given him, which he drew on,
      Joseph assisting him, although he thought he needed no help.
      Then he signified his intention to sit in a chair at or near the
      fireplace. Joseph took hold of his arm to help him along
      safely, but William declared his ability to walk alone,
      notwithstanding which, the help continued.

      Astonishment had taken the place of weeping throughout the
      room. Every looker-on was ready to weep for joy; but none were
      able or felt inclined to talk.

      Presently William said he wanted something to eat. Joseph
      asked him what he would like, and he replied that he wanted a
      dish of bread and milk.

      Emma immediately brought what he called for, as one may
      easily comprehend, every hand was anxious to supply the wants of
      a man who, a few moments before was dead, really and truly dead!
      Brother Huntington ate the bowl of bread and milk with as good a
      relish as any he ever ate.

      In a short time all felt more familiar, and conversation
      upon the scene that transpired followed. William related his
      experiences, and the friends theirs.

      Joseph listened to the conversation and in his turn
      remarked that they had just witnessed as great a miracle as
      Jesus did while on the earth. They had seen the dead brought to
      life.

      At the close of his narrative to me William Huntington
      remarked:

      “Now I have told you the truth, and here I am a live man,
      sitting by the side of you on this log, and I testify that
      Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.”

      http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/REC-JS.html

      There is another source on this by one of his daughters if I remember correctly. I read it in book done by Hyrum Andrus on associate of JS
      . Which book the missionaries never returned… Anyways it’s Oliver Huntington coming up to his niece and saying, something to the effect, you were almost never born. She asked how, he stated when your father lived with Joseph in Nauvoo he died, if it wasn’t for Joseph, who brought him back to life you wouldn’t have been born…

      You know, in the end, Joseph got what he wanted. Emma on her death bed went in and out of the spirit world, it’s at this time the last unfulfilled promise in her patriarchal blessing (By JS sr) was fulfilled, she met the Lord Jesus Christ and it was Joseph that introduced her to him. She got a personal walk through of her mansion in heaven and even met her children, when she saw her one year old Don Carlos who died in Nauvoo she ran and snatched him up and held him close.

      She died with Joseph’s name on her lips and a lock of his hair around her neck, all the bullcrap of the past didn’t get in her way as she stepped into eternity with the ones she loved and longed to be with. True story, gotta love a happy ending.

      I think he was a prophet, I think he thought he was a prophet, his friends and family thought he was, even his enemies that knew him accused him of being at one time a prophet. If Emma got over the past and saw him in Heaven good for her, I’m very much inclined to believe.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Michael, you are proving to be a very interesting guy!

        YOU WROTE
        “I could eventually rebut this extremely large post…”

        MY RESPONSE
        And I could eventually rebut your extremely large theoretical rebuttal while jumping over the Grand Canyon on a skateboard with one hand tied behind my back!

        So there!
        (Geez louise!)

        Michael, evidence talks, posturing and posing “walks.” Or put another way, talk is cheap.

        Now, I’m genuinely pleased and impressed that you produced some evidence to support some (but I noticed not all) of the naked assertions from your first post. And, I WILL – no cheap talk, but a promise – be addressing later.

        However, I couldn’t help but notice that your citations were, it seems, Mormon friendly sources – most of them from official LdS Church sources, and journals of LdS Church members.

        To me Michael, this is like researching Scientology only using official and pro Church of Scientology sources. Using this methodology, of course one is going to come away glaze eyed and muttering, “By golly it really is true!” since that’s the intent and purpose of such literature and testimony! Therefore, I tend to take such data points as interesting but hardly definitive, reliable, or even credible. One must always seek FULL context.

        Once again:

        “Good historians see things in context including people and event surrounding the event they seek to describe.”
        — Richard Marius
        (“A Short Guide to Writing about History”; New York: Harper-Collins, 1989; p.41)

        So what was the FULL context: What did/do the objecitve sources, critics, full historical context, and full body of evidence say about these events?
        (that is, of course, a rhetorical question – just be patient, I’ll be back when I have time)

        However, the rest of your post makes me believe that you don’t know since you just relapsed into the same pattern of unreferenced citations and naked assertions that prompted me to response to your first post. So here we go again . . .

        YOU WROTE
        “You know, in the end, Joseph got what he wanted. Emma on her death bed went in and out of the spirit world, it’s at this time the last unfulfilled promise in her patriarchal blessing (By JS sr) was fulfilled, she met the Lord Jesus Christ and it was Joseph that introduced her to him. She got a personal walk through of her mansion in heaven and even met her children, when she saw her one year old Don Carlos who died in Nauvoo she ran and snatched him up and held him close.

        She died with Joseph’s name on her lips and a lock of his hair around her neck, all the bullcrap of the past didn’t get in her way as she stepped into eternity with the ones she loved and longed to be with. True story, gotta love a happy ending.”

        MY RESPONSE
        That is indeed a happy, happy Hallmark Card ending. So much so, that my “bull shite radar” is going off like crazy.

        For a start, what is the source for this – it’s uncited and I could NOTHING about this anywhere. In fact, I couldn’t find this episode recounted by anyone – pro or critic.

        Next . . .

        YOU WROTE
        I think he was a prophet, I think he thought he was a prophet,…

        MY RESPONSE
        And I think that he was a con-man who was trying to save his family of origin from crushing poverty who developed Naracisistic Personality Disorder due to a traumatic childhood and who eventually came to believe and fell prey to his own confidence game.

        So what’s your point? Does your opinion beat my opinion up or vice versa? Wanna arm wrestle for it?

        YOU WROTE
        “…his friends and family thought he was…”

        MY RESPONSE
        Naked assertion.
        Evidence?

        I’ve already addressed the issue of his family in a prior post and here’s a link that outlined the body of evidence that most of his friends abandoned and denounced Joseph Smith either as fallen prophet or a false prophet: http://mormonthink.com/witnessesweb.htm

        And, sorry, but I’m time constrained so I’m not going to bother to post excerpts – this one you’ll have to do on your own for the time being. Maybe later . . .

        YOU WROTE
        “…even his enemies that knew him accused him of being at one time a prophet.”

        MY RESPONSE
        Well, I’m tempted to say, “What utter rubbage!” but instead I’ll simply say:

        Another naked assertion.
        Evidence?

        YOU WROTE
        “If Emma got over the past and saw him in Heaven good for her”

        MY RESPONSE
        Once again, and as noted previously, this is a naked assertion that’s based on uncited, highly suspicious evidence at best and most likely NO credible evidence at all.

        YOU WROTE
        I’m very much inclined to believe.

        MY RESPONSE
        Well Michael, as Gunnar once said well:

        “Faith that is not backed up by good evidence and sound reason is useless and self-delusory.”
        — Gunnar
        (http://mormonexpression.com/blogs/2011/05/01/chaos-vs-order/#comment-198272034 ; retrieved 2011-05-06, 09:27)

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Addendum to earlier post from today.

        YOU WROTE
        “You know, in the end, Joseph got what he wanted. Emma on her death bed went in and out of the spirit world, it’s at this time the last unfulfilled promise in her patriarchal blessing (By JS sr) was fulfilled, she met the Lord Jesus Christ and it was Joseph that introduced her to him. She got a personal walk through of her mansion in heaven and even met her children, when she saw her one year old Don Carlos who died in Nauvoo she ran and snatched him up and held him close.

        She died with Joseph’s name on her lips and a lock of his hair around her neck, all the bullcrap of the past didn’t get in her way as she stepped into eternity with the ones she loved and longed to be with. True story, gotta love a happy ending.”

        MY RESPONSE
        Since you failed to do so, I found the original source for this story. It was Alexander Smith, Joseph and Emma’s third son and it is recounted in Community of Church Archivist Ron Romig’s book, “Alexander: Joseph & Emma Smith’s Far West Son” on p. 74 (see http://www.amazon.com/Alexander-Joseph-Emma-Smiths-West/dp/1934901261 ) as well as in the following sources:

        “My Great-Great-Grandmother Emma Hale Smith” by Gracia N. Jones
        (see http://lds.org/ensign/1992/08/my-great-great-grandmother-emma-hale-smith?lang=eng#footnote27-92908_000_012 )

        Alexander H. Smith, “Second Coming of Christ, the Home of the Redeemed,” Zion’s Ensign (December 31, 1903) p.7

        And Alexander wasn’t a first hand witness, he heard the story from Emma’s nurse, Elizabeth Brierley Revel. Here, from the first aforementioned source, is Elizabeth Brierley Revel’s account given to Alexander Hale Smith:

        “Well, a short time before she died she had a vision which she related to me. She said your father came to her and said to her, ‘Emma, come with me, it is time for you to come with me.’ And as she related it she said, ‘I put on my bonnet and my shawl and went with him; I did not think that it was anything unusual. I went with him into a mansion, a beautiful mansion, and he showed me through the different apartments of that beautiful mansion. And one room was the nursery. In that nursery was a babe in the cradle. She said, ‘I knew my babe, my Don Carlos that was taken away from me.’ She sprang forward, caught the child up in her arms, and wept with joy over the child. When she recovered herself sufficient, she turned to Joseph and said, ‘Joseph, where are the rest of my children?’ He said to her, ‘Emma, be patient, and you shall have all of your children.’ Then she saw standing by his side a personage of light, even the Lord Jesus Christ.”

        And as this faithful, practicing Mormon critic points out there are REAL problems with this account:
        Seeing Joseph at Her Deathbed
        One thing that is often held to Emma’s credit is the account that on her deathbed she saw Joseph coming to her. It should be a point of hesitation to believe Emma Smith’s testimony about seeing Joseph in vision, when she had been lying for years about his involvement in plural marriage. However, at the time of her death, Emma did not even recognize her own children, therefore she was clearly not in her right mind (Emma Smith: An Elect Lady, Susan Easton Black, p. 85). Even if Joseph did in reality appear to her, that fact in and of itself would not be indisputable proof of her acceptance into God’s kingdom.

        Conclusion
        Though Emma Smith should be admired and celebrated for her positive contributions to the Church, we should not kid ourselves regarding her ultimate fate. Emma did not stay true to the gospel. She spurned the revelations of God and the teachings of heaven. She raised her children outside of the Church, and consequently the posterity of Joseph Smith are unbelievers. Since no one is exempt from enduring to the end, and Emma clearly did not endure to the end, it follows very simply that she will not inherit Celestial glory. That is all there is to the matter. Indeed, it is dangerous on principle to suggest that corrupt and rebellious people can inherit God’s kingdom. So why make an exception for Emma? To do so makes no sense. A gospel plan which would allow for the salvation of such a rebellious person is not the one that her husband revealed to the world. Upon relating an experience when Emma deliberately tried to destroy a revelation from God regarding plural marriage, President Brigham Young said, “she will be damned as sure as she is a living woman. Joseph used to say that he would have her hereafter, if he had to go to hell for her, and he will have to go to hell for her as sure as he ever gets her.” (Journal of Discourses, 17: 159).[1]”

        (source http://loyaltotheword.synthasite.com/the-fate-of-emma-smith.php ; retreived date of post; some bold underlining added for emphasis)

        And as another faithful and practicing Latter-day Saint, Seth Adams Smith, notes:
        “With that in mind, Gracia N. Jones, an author and a direct descendent of Joseph and Emma Smith wrote this in her book:

        “I have been asked whether it is possible Emma was delusional when she had this experience. It is natural to wonder about this, since it is uncommon for most of us to experience such a marvelous thing. I had to give it serious consideration. I’ve always accepted it at face value, feeling a tremendous joy in understanding the principles it teaches–and assurance of life hereafter and the promise that families can be together forever.

        “These are things we all long to know and believe–and they are things that are absolutely impossible to prove in any empirical sense. One simply cannot prove a spiritual experience. It all must rest upon faith.

        “However, as I pondered the question and the situation, I realized that most of the time, if one is trying to support an idea, they will used language and evidence that favors their opinion. In the case of Alexander Hale Smith, who told this story while speaking to a group of RLDS young people about six years before he died, he was not in an environment where he hoped to prove a point or be believed. He was simply sharing what, to him, was a sacred experience. At that time he did not even teach the doctrine of families being together for eternity, so theorizing that he used the story to prove a point is not very likely…

        “…we can most likely assume he was not embellishing, but rather telling the story as it happened to him” (Jones, Gracia N. Emma and Lucy. American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2005. Print., pgs. 190-191).
        (source http://sethadamsmith.com/2011/07/18/emma-smith-last-dream/ ; retrieved date of post)

        So Michael what we have here is a dubious, highly questionable account, told by a second hand witness who was retelling it 35-years later to an audience in a “faith promoting” context.

        So this, in my opinion, this story belonging in the file marked “interesting folklore” not the one marked “historical” fact.

        Now I’m done for the time being – I have a blog to write.

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          And, BTW, this just in . . .

          YOU WROTE
          “She died with Joseph’s name on her lips and a lock of his hair around her neck, all the bullcrap of the past didn’t get in her way as she stepped into eternity with the ones she loved and longed to be with. True story, gotta love a happy ending.”

          MY RESPONSE
          Well the only “bullcrap” that I’m seeing here is your absolutist, dogmatic, hyperbolic tone over assertions that are highly speculative in nature and unsupported in fact.

          1) While it is true that that she wore a locket with a cutting of Joseph Smith’s hair (see http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/PDFBooklet/PDFBooklet.pdf , http://www.geni.com/people/Emma-Smith-Bidamon-Hale/6000000003005389289 ) the supposition that she wore it to her grave seems to be unsupported by nothing but “faithful” speculation and folklore.

          2) The fact that Emma Smith dearly loved Colonel Bidamon is borne out by their correspondence.
          (see http://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=5381 )

          3) Colonel Bidamon was present at her demise. To be precise, in the last hours of her life she was attended by her husband Louis Bidamon, her adopeted daughter and nurse Julia, her eldest son Joseph III, and her third son Alexander.

          And again, Alexander Hale Smith’s account of her demise reads like this:

          “According to Alexander, Emma seemed to sink away, but then she raised up and stretched out her hand, calling, “Joseph! Joseph!” Falling back on Alexander’s arm, she clasped her hands on her bosom, and her spirit was gone. Both Alexander and Joseph thought she was calling for her son Joseph…”
          (see last post for citations)

          The later dogmatic assertion that she was calling for Joseph Smith, Jr. is faith promoting, folkloric speculation of the type that TBMs (the first of course whom were Julia and Alexander) seem to specialize in and little else. The fact of the matter is that only Emma Smith knew which Joseph she was calling out for so this must remain an open matter undeserving of an absolutist dogmatic stance.

          4) And how is the following hyperbolic assertion logical or revelant in light of the historical record? “…all the bullcrap of the past didn’t get in her way as she stepped into eternity with the ones she loved and longed to be with.” Isn’t this true of anyone who dies? How exactly this is a proof that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a true prophet of God?

          Rahter there is ample proof that Emma Smith loved both of her husbands passionately – despite the fact that the first “bull crapped” (code word for “committed adultery”) on her at least 34-times, and the second once (see Michael, two can play the hyperbolic rhetoric game – that sword swings both ways)

          However, and returning to a more objective tone, I’m sure that she was just as thrilled to see Colonel Bidamon in the afterlife as she was her first husband, Joseph Smith, Jr.

          Michael I could say much more about your “interesting” scholarship and methods but I won’t. I’ll just steer to the Wikipedia article on “Confirmation Bias” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias ) instead and recommend that you reconsider your scholoarship and methods of conclusion in light of it.

          Thanks.

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          And, BTW, this just in . . .

          YOU WROTE
          “She died with Joseph’s name on her lips and a lock of his hair around her neck, all the bullcrap of the past didn’t get in her way as she stepped into eternity with the ones she loved and longed to be with. True story, gotta love a happy ending.”

          MY RESPONSE
          Well the only “bullcrap” that I’m seeing here is your absolutist, dogmatic, hyperbolic tone over assertions that are highly speculative in nature and unsupported in fact.

          1) While it is true that that she wore a locket with a cutting of Joseph Smith’s hair (see http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/PDFBooklet/PDFBooklet.pdf , http://www.geni.com/people/Emma-Smith-Bidamon-Hale/6000000003005389289 ) the supposition that she wore it to her grave seems to be unsupported by nothing but “faithful” speculation and folklore.

          2) The fact that Emma Smith dearly loved Colonel Bidamon is borne out by their correspondence.
          (see http://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=5381 )

          3) Colonel Bidamon was present at her demise. To be precise, in the last hours of her life she was attended by her husband Louis Bidamon, her adopeted daughter and nurse Julia, her eldest son Joseph III, and her third son Alexander.

          And again, Alexander Hale Smith’s account of her demise reads like this:

          “According to Alexander, Emma seemed to sink away, but then she raised up and stretched out her hand, calling, “Joseph! Joseph!” Falling back on Alexander’s arm, she clasped her hands on her bosom, and her spirit was gone. Both Alexander and Joseph thought she was calling for her son Joseph…”
          (see last post for citations)

          The later dogmatic assertion that she was calling for Joseph Smith, Jr. is faith promoting, folkloric speculation of the type that TBMs (the first of course whom were Julia and Alexander) seem to specialize in and little else. The fact of the matter is that only Emma Smith knew which Joseph she was calling out for so this must remain an open matter undeserving of an absolutist dogmatic stance.

          4) And how is the following hyperbolic assertion logical or revelant in light of the historical record? “…all the bullcrap of the past didn’t get in her way as she stepped into eternity with the ones she loved and longed to be with.” Isn’t this true of anyone who dies? How exactly this is a proof that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a true prophet of God?

          Rahter there is ample proof that Emma Smith loved both of her husbands passionately – despite the fact that the first “bull crapped” (code word for “committed adultery”) on her at least 34-times, and the second once (see Michael, two can play the hyperbolic rhetoric game – that sword swings both ways)

          However, and returning to a more objective tone, I’m sure that she was just as thrilled to see Colonel Bidamon in the afterlife as she was her first husband, Joseph Smith, Jr.

          Michael I could say much more about your “interesting” scholarship and methods but I won’t. I’ll just steer to the Wikipedia article on “Confirmation Bias” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias ) instead and recommend that you reconsider your scholoarship and methods of conclusion in light of it.

          Thanks.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        OK, my blog up so…

        YOU WROTE
        “Also last time I checked con men couldn’t raise the dead by the laying on of hands (William Huntington & Eliza Rigdon”

        MY RESPONSE
        Thank you for your citations. However, since all of these sources are internal “faithful” sources they’re hardly objective evidence are they are?  And citing from an official church publication of the period ( Times and Seasons; September 15, 1842) is essentially a citation from partisan propoganda. AND Michael, I couldn’t find ANY references outside of “faithful” sources for the evidence that you presented – none, not even critical analysis of the events. 

        This is relevant as this Christianity Today Editor notes in his blog: 
        In saints’ hagiographies, raising the dead is a big deal. But it’s pretty common. Try to find a hagiography without a resurrection. It’s awfully hard. Read a dictionary of saints and you’ll start with St. Anastasius, a heathen by raised by St. Julian of Antioch who “told such a mournful tale about the way to Hell as never came to man before nor after since. Anastasius and Julian were later reportedly martyred together around the year 311. Shortly thereafter you’ll meet St. Archelides, who came to life for the span of one sentence, settling a dispute between his fellows over whether his mother could be buried next to him even though she was a woman.

        Hundreds of resurrection stories later, as you near the final pages, you’ll encounter St. Winifred, beheaded around 650 by the son of a prince for spurning him. She was reportedly raised to life by the prayers of her uncle, St. Beuno.

        Want only the resurrection stories? Track down Albert J. Hebert’s extremely credulous Saints Who Raised the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles, in which even the most unreliable hagiographic accounts of resurrections by Patrick, Joan of Arc, Francis of Paola, Stanislaus of Krakow, and other saints are treated authentically.
        ( http://blog.christianhistory.net/2009/04/raised_from_the_dead.html ; retrieved date of post) 

        And you can read some summations of these miracles from the modern of equilavent of “Times And Season” – a Roman Catholic webpage – by using this link: http://www.miraclesofthechurch.com/2010/10/raised-from-dead-saints-who-brought.html

        My point?  None of these accounts can be considered dispassionate, empirical evidence. While they may or may not be true the fact that they’re recounted in faith promoting publishing organs of their respective religious organizations should give one pause. In fact, because they’re not from objective source IMO they should be viewed with some degree of skepticism.

        But for the sake of argument let’s say that each and every one of the stories of Joseph Smith’s miracles are true. Well, miracles in and of themselves mean very little in Biblical Theology for the Bible says that false Christians can perform miracles: 

        [Christ speaking] “Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

        For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works. And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?

        And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity.
        — Mattew 7:31-33 (JST)  

        And the Old Testament is clear that false prophets WILL perform miracles AND that this will be God testing his people: 

        ‘“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
        — Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (JST) 

        And the last time I checked Michael, Mormons still claim to believe the Bible don’t they? Oh, BTW, you’ll notice that I used the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible so as to eliminate any possibility of “mistranslation” by corrupt and scheming apostates for you.   

        So even if Joseph Smith did in fact raise people from the dead in the end it means very little according to the Bible.  

        And apparently the modern LdS Church realizes this since the ONLY modern reference to Joseph Smith raising people from the dead was from in RLDS literature. 
        (see http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-visionarticles/bennett6letter.htm )

        YOU WROTE
        “A con man doesn’t send an envoy back to kirkland to settle all the debts and square up with those that lost their money in the Kirkland anti-banking society.”

        MY RESPONSE
        Well Michael, I can find exactly ZERO evidence for this assertion. Zip, nada, zilch.  No faithful, critical, or even apologist source seems to have written on this. So if this is true isn’t the Mormon Church and it’s proponents crowing about it as a means of silencing critics in regard to the Kirtland anti-bank Society?  

        An observation: In the end Michael it seems that your solution to any question of Mormon faith is to ONLY go to “faithful” sources in your research and data mine them.

        As I discuss in my recently posted blog this is the epitome of “The Problem of the Mormon Tank” (see http://mormonexpression.com/blogs/2011/08/13/the-problem-of-the-mormon-tank-revisited/ ). In addition the BITE Model indicates that this is also symptomatic of the following Mind Control tactics: 

        Information Control
        o Access to non cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
        o Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
        o Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda

        (source = http://freedomofmind.com/bite/

        And I understand Michael because I’m a survivor of a Mind Control Cult so I know how this works. 

        Suggestion: You might want to start considering outside sources – even critical outside sources – in your research, after all you wouldn’t anyone to accuse you of being a Mind Control Cultist! 

        Just sayin’ mate!

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          And to stay accountable, I asked some other researchers to look at the historical record and see if I’m missing anything – who knows maybe these ARE some honest-to-goodness miracles.  

          On the Eliza Rigdon account one of them came back with some very good points that I think that you should get of the Mormon Tank and consider. Here they are: 

          FIRST ACCOUNT: Times and Seasons, Vol.3, No.22, p.922-p.923, History of the Church 5:121–123

          Summary Analysis:
          Joseph Smith is nowhere in the account. He didn’t lay hands on Eliza Rigdon, she appears to have simply revived on her own. 

          The account: 

          ELDER RIGDON, &C.
          On one of the last Sabbath’s in August, Elder Rigdon made his appearance on the stand, and though he was somewhat emaciated from ill health, brought upon him by the malignant persecutions of Missouri, yet to behold an old veteran in the cause of our Redeemer, rise to address a congregation of the saints, 

          was at once animating. That face, from whence eloquence once flowed copiousace among the heads of Israel, — He was not upon the stand to renounce his faith in Mormonism, as had been variously stated by enemies and licentious presses, but appeared to bear his testimony of its truth, and add another to the many miraculous evidences of the power of God. Neither did he rise to deliver any regular discourse, but to unfold unto the audience a scene of deep interest, which had occurred in his own family. 

          He had witnessed many instances of the power of God, in this church, but never before had he seen the dead raised: yet, this was a thing that had actually taken place in his own family: his daughter Eliza was dead; — the doctor told him that she was gone, when, after a certain length of time she rose up in the bed and spoke in a very powerful tone to the following effect, in a supernatural manner: — and said to the family that she was going to leave them, being impressed with the idea herself, that she had only come back to deliver her message, and then depart again: — saying the Lord had said to her the very words she should relate, — and so particular was she in her relation, that she would not suffer any person to leave out a word, or add one. She called the family around her and bade them all farewell, with a composure and calmness that defies all description: — still impressed with the idea that she was to go back.  expressed a great unwillingness to die, but after her return, she expressed equally as strong a desire to go back. 

          She said to her elder sister, Nancy, it is in your heart to deny this work, and if you do, the Lord says it will be the damnation of your soul. 

          In speaking to her sister Sarah, she said, Sarah, we have but once to die, and I would rather die now than wait for another time. She said to her sister, that the Lord had great blessings in store for them, if they continued in the faith; and after delivering her message she swooned but recovered again. 

          During this time she was cold as when laid in the grave, and all life, was the power of speech. She thus continued till the following evening, for the space of (thirty six) hours: — at which she called her father unto her bed and said to him, that the Lord had said to her, if he would cease weeping for his sick daughter, and dry up his tears, that he should have all the desires of his heart; and that if he would go to bed and rest, he should be comforted over his sick daughter, for in the morning she should be getting better, and should get well. That the Lord had said unto her, because that her father had dedicated her to God, and prayed to him for her, that he would give her back again. 

          This ceremony of dedicating and praying, took place when she was struggling in death, and continued to the very moment of her departure; and she says the Lord told her, that it was because of this that she must go back again, though she herself desired to stay.

          She said concerning Geo. W. Robinson, as he had denied the faith, the Lord had taken away one of his eye-teeth, and unless he repented, he would take away another. And concerning Dr. Bennett, that he was a wicked man, and that the Lord would tread him under his feet. Such is a small portion of what she related.

          Elder Rigdon observed, that there had been many idle tales and reports abroad concerning him, stating that he had denied the faith, but he would take the opporas and had denied the faith, but he would take the opportunity to state that his faith was and had been unshaken in the truth. 

          It has also been rumored that I believe that Joseph Smith is a fallen prophet: In regard to this, I unequivocally state, that I never thought so — but declare that I know he is a prophet of the Lord, called chose in this last dispensation, to roll on the kingdom of God for the last time. 

          He closed by saying, as it regards his religion, he had no controversy with the world, having an incontrovertible evidence, that through the obedience to the ordinancLord had actually given back his daughter from the dead. — No person need therefore come to reason with him, to convince him of error, or make him believe another religion, unless those who profess it, can show that through obedience to its laws, the dead has been and can be raised; — if it has no such power, it would be insulting his feelings to ask him to reason about it. And if it had it would be no better than the one he had, and so he had done with controversy — wherefore, he dealt in facts, and not in theory. 
          (Times and Seasons, Vol.3, No.22, City of Nauvoo, Illinois, September 15, 1842; pp.922-923; also “History of the Church”, 5:121–123; paragraphing added to match modern legibility standards) 

          SECOND ACCOUNT: H. P. Brown’s tribute of James Sloan (from “The Expositor”, May 1887)
          Here we have a second hand account written 45-years after the fact that has no corroborating evidence to support it. Therefore, this account can and should, in my opinion, be filed under “Mormon Folklore”. 

          In addition, I must point out that this 1887 account directly contradicts the 1842 First Hand Witness account of Sidney Rigdon. So which do you think is more credible 

          The account: 

          Elder James Sloan died on the 24th day of October, 1886, at Sacramento City, California, aged 93 years, 11 months, and 27 days…. Bro. Sloan was educated to the profession of the law in Ireland and became a barrister there before he came to America…. He was baptized in the fall of 1836 at Columbiana county, State of Ohio….

          He was a beautiful penman and was appointed and acted as scribe to the Patriarch Joseph Smith, senior, and wrote his patriarchal blessings…. and acted as scribe to the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, and Joseph Smith, the prophet…. [I]n the exodus of a large part of the church westward in 1847 he went to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he was elected District Judge of the Pottowattomie district in 1850…. [H]e removed to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1852 [the year Brigham Young publicly introduced polygamy]. Not liking the manner of doing things there and becoming disgusted with the usurpations of Brigham Young, he left…. He held himself aloof from all sets and parties, clung to the original doctrines of the church, and when we saw him in 1875 at Sacramento city, California, he was received into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in which he remained in good standing and fellowship, greatly rejoicing in the work to the day of his death.

          He always bore a faithful testimony of the Latter Day work and of the divinity of Joseph Smith’s mission. He had many evidences of the truth of the great work of which he testified, received by visions, healings and by various spiritual manifestations. He testified to seeing Sidney Rigdon’s daughter raised from the dead under the hands of Joseph Smith the prophet, after she had been several days pronounced dead by the physicians.” 
          (Editor H. P. Brown, “The Expositor”, Oakland, California, May 1887; p.3)

          And for the record Eliza Rigdon was born 1823 at Pittsburgh, Allegheny, PA and died in 1845 at the same location. She would have been 22-years old at the time of death and Sidney Ridgon never states when or where the event took place.  We can assume that it was 1842 and Nauvoo, Illinois but that’s purely speculative and unsupported by any historical evidence. 

          Finally, I want to remind you that there are several recorded cases of people being prematurely declared dead and even buried alive in the 19th Century:

          “It didn’t help that medical science was slow to produce a reliable checklist of vital signs, nor that many doctors prior to the late 19th century were too poorly educated (or incompetent, or both) to tell a living body from a dead one.

          It is also a fact that something of a moral panic concerning premature burials took hold in parts of Europe and North American during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, the fervor of which was scarcely warranted by the facts. Historians surmise it may have been prompted by the medical discovery that victims of suffocation and drowning could be resuscitated â that, though they appeared dead, they really weren’t. This must have been a disconcerting realization for many people at the time.

          In any case, so strong was the fear of “precipitate interment” during the 19th century that some folks who had the means took to stipulating in their wills that their coffins be outfitted with signaling devices just in case. No one knows if any of these were ever actually put to good use.”
          (see http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/horrors/a/buried_alive.htm ; retrieved 2011-08-14) 

          Also see: 
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premature_burial
          http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp

          So it’s well within reason to postulate and/or speculate that Eliza Rigdon was one of these cases. Therefore, given all these issues, problems with the account – and analyzing it within it’s greater historical context – I will continue to view it with a high degree of skepticism and I encourage you to do the same Michael.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        And finally – and then I’m done:

        YOU WROTE
        “A con man doesn’t send an envoy back to kirkland to settle all the debts and square up with those that lost their money in the Kirkland anti-banking society.”

        MY RESPONSE
        Once again I “reality checked” myself – after I don’t to be accused of Mind Control Information Control tactics – and attempted to find some supporting evidence for this naked assertion.

        I found none.

        So once again I ran this by my network of Mormon Studies researchers and while they didn’t know of, and couldn’t find any evidence to support this assertion they knew of and referred me to plenty of evidence to discredit it

        Thus, I found that not only was this assertion ridiculous it was impossible since after the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company Joseph Smith was so deeply in debt that repayment couldn’t even be considered AND any money that the Missouri Mormons had left was used to get Joseph Smith out of jail and settle law suits:

        “Thirteen suits were brought against him between June 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totaling nearly $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits only six were settled out of court-about $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default.

        “Joseph had many additional debts that never resulted in court action. Some years later he compiled a list of still outstanding Kirtland loans, which amounted to more than $33,000. If one adds to these the two great loans of $30,000 and $60,000 borrowed in New York and Buffalo in 1836, it would seem that the Mormon leaders owed to non-Mormon individuals and firms well over $150,000.”
        (No Man Knows My History, pp. 199-202)

        “The State legislature refused the Kirtland Safety Society its charter upon which the name of the bank was changed to Kirtland Anti-Banking Society….Joseph and Sidney Rigdon were tried in court for violating the law, were found guilty and fined $1,000. They appealed on the grounds that the institution was an association and not a bank; the plea was never ruled upon as the bank suspended payments and closed its doors. Other lawsuits followed….

        “During the summer of 1837, Joseph spent much of his time away from Kirtland to avoid these lawsuits…. Apostles Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and John F. Boynton were rejected and disfellowshipped.. “The blame of the bank failure fell heavily on Joseph. He had issued a formal invitation to his followers to take stock in the venture and the institution had been organized outside the law. Heber C. Kimball later was to comment that at this moment, ‘there were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.’ Six of the apostles came out in open rebellion….Joseph first established the bank by revelation and then had to later admit that because of poor management and other internal and external conditions the project was a failure.”
        (“Joseph Smith As An Administrator,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, pp. 80, 81, 82, 85, 86 and 88)

        I just thought that you should know Michael. Perhaps you should shelf this assertion since (as it turns out, every assertion you made in your posts) it’s simply not credible.

  12. Fred W. Anson Reply

    @George Miller
    Again, I’m posting up here so as to avoid this discussion board “indent responses until they’re illegible” phenomenon. 

    YOU WROTE
    “Let me make two briefs points. Spend about 10 minutes with an open mind taking what you know about Mormon history and apply it to your claim that Joseph Smith decided to publish the Book of Abraham in Nauvoo because he needed another piece of scripture to “con” his followers and keep them going. I think a few moments of reflection on the historical time line and historical facts should quickly show you that such an argument is fraught with historical difficulties and contradictory evidence.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Well, I’m always willing to keep an open mind as long as it’s not so open that my brains leak out. 

    And I’ve taken 3-days since your post, considered and thought about your last podcast with John (the one that this discussion thread is based on) and in the end I find myself concurring with both Richard Marius. . . 

    “Good historians see things in context including people and event surrounding the event they seek to describe.” 
    — Richard Marius
    (“A Short Guide to Writing about History”; New York: Harper-Collins, 1989; p.41) 

    … as well as Martha Beck’s superb vernacular assessment of the coming forth of the Book of Abraham: 

    “To understand how the Egyptian images got into Mormon scripture in the first place, we must go to yet another place and timeL the small town of Kirtland, Ohio, in the year 1835. 

    It was an eventful year for the prophet Joseph Smith and his followers, including my great-great Granfather, the formerly Jewish dentist. Mormons were not particularly popular among nonmembers; their clannishness, evangelical fervor, and unusual doctrines upset less Saintly folk to the point of perpetual harassment and occassional violence. In fact, the Mormons had encountered such hostility from “Gentiles” (the Saint’s term for nonmembrs, which must have been a bit confusing for Great Great Grandpa) that they’d already had to relocate twice, first from New York State to Missouri, and then to Ohio. After the second move, Brother Joseph received orders from God that he should field an army to reclaim the Mormon territory in Missouri, but the forces he marshaled were devastated by a cholera epidemic, which (God told Joseph) was punishment for the Saint’s less-than-total obedience to the faith. Most Church members humbly accepted this censure, but others seemed discontented. 

    To make matters worse, God had also recently commanded Joseph Smith to start taking multiple wives. No actual numbers appear to have been specified. Historians quibble over how many women he married but the number was probably somewhere in the forties – more than a grundle, less than a horde. Even more inconveniently, some of the women Smith was commanded to wed were already married to other men, including friends and followers of the prophet. Despite the delicacy of this situation, Smith was diligent in obeying his new orders. He kept matters as private as he could, publicly denying his multiple marriages, but by July 1835 rumors had begun to leak out. The rank and file of Latter-day Saints had begun, in the popular Mormon idiom, to ‘murmur against the prophet.’ They were tired of being transplanted, losing their possessions, building a larger house for JOseph and his first wife while he took their own wives as his ‘spiritual’ brides. Some began to suspect that the Book of Mormon might not even be a translation of a real document and that Joseph Smith might not be a modern Moses after all but rather a philandering opportunist. Things were looking a mite dicey for the prophet. 

    I know what you’re probably thinking right now, as you read this account. You’re thinking, ‘I’ll bet this situation was enlivened by the arrival of a traveling Irishman and his cartload of ancient Egyptian mummies!’

    Of course, you are correct.

    … 

    From the beginning of his religious career Joseph Smith had gained credibility by celebrating his magical ability to translate ancient documents. The fortuitous acquisition of the papyri, Smith’s new translation project, helped inject his followers with a fresh dose of enthusiasm and belief in their leader’s prophetic powers. They needed all the morale they could get, since they were becoming less and less popular with non-Mormon settlers of the western frontier. Hositility from prickly neighbors, angry mobs, and anti-Mormon politicians continued to make life difficult and dangerous for the Saints, and the continued flow of validation from Joseph Smith’s historic documents no doubt salved many of their psychological wounds. 

    The more Smith translated, the more the ancient prophets backed up all his Latter-day claims. For example, some Mormon dissenters objected to Joseph’s ordaining himself and others as “high priests”, until it turned out that Abraham had held the same office, given by God in the same way that Smith claimed that he had received it. Abraham, like Joseph, preached that men could progress in heavenly rank until they became gods – a doctrine that had stuck in the craws of some nineteenth-century Mormons. Most important of all, Smith’s translation of the Book of Abraham revealed that the ancient prophet had been commanded to take multiple wives and to lie about it in public. In the Pearl of Great Price account, Abraham is told, by no less authority than God himself, to tell the Egyptians that his wife Sarah is actually his sister. The new scriptures – published bi-weekly in a Mormon newsletter, referred to repeatedly in Joseph Smith’s speeches and sermons – helped calm tensions and bolster the faith of the Saints during a period of smoldering unrest within the Mormon community and outright agression from secular society.”
    (Beck, Martha, “Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith”; Crown Publishers, New York; 2005; pp.152-155) 

    YOU WROTE
    “Next please spend another ten or so minutes thinking about the evidence I have provided so far about the nature and content of the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith’s interest in Masonry and put the pieces together for yourself. Joseph Smith’s decision to publish the BoA when he did, and his motivations behind that move, are perfectly obvious upon reflection.”

    MY RESPONSE
    George, this isn’t an economic study – where one is allowed to restain all variable but two – it’s a historical study where all the variables in play.  Thus, the full context must be considered we’re not allowed to just consider Joseph Smith’s Masonic influences and Joseph Smith’s prophetic claims and ignore everything else.  

    When the FULL context and the FULL set of variables is consider yes it IS obvious what Joseph Smith’s motivators were and why he decided to publish the BoA when he did – see the Martha Beck excerpt above. 

    Now I’m not denying that Smith was fascinated with and deeply embedded in Masonry – he clearly was.  However, after really, really, really thinking about it, for me, what your research is validating is what a superb plaigarist Joseph Smith really was and not much else. 

    YOU WROTE
    “Finally you bring up Joseph Smith’s money digging activities. I must say that is a extremely weak argument. When the money-digging culture was examined during the Early Modern time period, what was the percentage of participants who were true believers? Next look at the the data surrounding Joseph and his family’s money digging activities with an open mind particularly focusing on the opposite view as you hold now, and ask yourself under which model (believer or con-man) fits the data better and which provides the strongest explanatory power.”

    MY RESPONSE
    Again this is a historical study. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what I think about Joseph Smith’s money digging activities. Nor does it matter what you think. From the stand point of assessing the historical significance, what matters is what Smith’s contemporaries thought. So let’s ask them: 

    “I, with Joshua McKune, a local preacher at that time, I think in June, 1828, heard on Saturday, that Joe Smith had joined the church on Wednesday afternoon, (as it was customary in those days to have circuit preaching at my father’s house on week-day). We thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts, in it. So on Sunday we went to father’s, the place of meeting that day, and got there in season to see Smith and talked with him some time in father’s shop before the meeting. Told him that his occupation, habits, and moral character were at variance with the discipline, that his name would be a disgrace to the church, that there should have been recantation, confession and at least promised reformation-. That he could that day publicly ask that his name be stricken from the class book, or stand an investigation. He chose the former, and did that very day make the request that his name be taken off the class book.” 
    (The Amboy Journal, June 11, 1879, p.1; bolding and underlining added for emphasis)

    Affidavit of Isaac Hale, father-in-law of Joseph Smith, Jr., given at Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania on 20 March 1834

     I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called “money-diggers;” and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man – not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father.

    Smith, and his father, with several other ‘money-diggers’ boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since. Young Smith gave the ‘money-diggers’ great encouragement, at first, but when they had arrived in digging, to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure would be found – he said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discourged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 1825; and one of the company gave me his note for $12[.]68 for his board, which is still unpaid.

    After these occurrences, young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave him my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve; he then left the place. Not long after this, he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent.

    After they had arrived at Palmyra [Manchester] N.Y., Emma wrote to me inquiring whether she could have her property, consisting of clothing, furniture, cows, &c. I replied that her property was safe, and at her disposal. In short time they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersol[l], and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out, and resided upon a place near my residence.

    Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called “glass-looking,” and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so. He also made arrangements with my son Alva Hale, to go to Palmyra, and move his (Smith’s) furniture &c. to this place. He then returned to Palmyra, and soon after, Alva, agreeable to the arrangement, went up and returned with Smith and his family.

    Soon after this, I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of Plates down with them. I was shown a box in which it is said they were contained, which had, to all appearances, been used as a glass box of the common sized window-glass. I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they gave me to understand, that the book of plates was then in the box – into which, however, I was not allowed to look.

    I inquired of Joseph Smith Jr., who was to be the first who would be allowed to see the Book of Plates? He said it was a young child. After this, I became dissatisfied, and informed him that if there was any thing in my house of that description, which I could not be allowed to see, he must take it away; if he did not, I was determined to see it. After that, the Plates were said to be hid in the woods.

    About this time, Martin Harris made his appearance upon the stage; and Smith began to interpret the characters or hieroglyphics which he said were engraven upon the plates, while Harris wrote down the interpretation. It was said, that Harris wrote down one hundred and sixteen pages, and lost them.

    Soon after this happened, Martin Harris informed me that he must have a greater witness, and said that he had talked with Joseph about it – Joseph informed him that he could not, or durst not show him the plates, but that he (Joseph) would go into the woods where the Book of Plates was, and that after he came back, Harris should follow his track in the snow, and find the Book, and examine it for himself. Harris informed me afterwards, that he followed Smith’s directions, and could not find the Plates, and was still dissatisfied.

    The next day after this happened, I went to the house where Joseph Smith Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the Book. Each of them had a written piece of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were “my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can be given him.” There was also something said about “three that were to see the thing” – meaning I supposed, the Book of Plates, and that “if the three did not go exactly according to orders, the thing would be taken from them.” I enquired whose words they were, and was informed by Joseph or Emma, (I rather think it was the former) that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them then, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it.

    The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time in the woods!

    After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowd[e]ry came and wrote for Smith, while he interpreted as above described. This is the same Oliver Cowd[e]ry, whose name may be found in the Book of Mormon. Cowd[e]ry continued a scribe for Smith until the Book of Mormon was completed as I supposed, and understood.

    Joseph Smith Jr. resided near me for some time after this, and I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and somewhat acquainted with his associates, and I conscientiously believe from the facts I have detailed, and from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that the whole “Book of Mormon” (so called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary – and in order that its fabricators might live upon the spoils of those who swallowed the deception.

    ISAAC HALE.
    Affirmed to and subscribed before me, March 20th, 1834.

    CHARLES DIMON, J[ustice]. [of the] Peace.

    (“Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian 9 (1 May 1834):1, Montrose, Pennsylvania, original emphasis omitted, bolding and underlining added for emphasis. Paragraphs are shortened for easier reading; http://www.xmission.com/~research/about/docum3.htm )

    “…some very officious person complained of him as a disorderly person and
    brought him before the authorities of the county…”

    (Oliver Cowdery, “LDS Messenger and Advocate”, 1835; quoted in “Joseph Smith and the 1826 Trial: New
    Evidence and New Difficulties” by 
    Marvin S. Hill, BYU Studies 1972; http://byustudies.byu.edu/PDFLibrary/12.2Hill.pdf

    Messrs. Editors— … thinking that a fuller history of their founder, Joseph Smith, jr., might be interesting … I will take the trouble to make a few remarks…. For several years preceding the appearance of his book, he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending, by means of a certain stone, or glass, which he put in a hat, to be able to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, &c…. In this town, a wealthy farmer, named Josiah Stowell, together with others, spent large sums of money in digging for hidden money, which this Smith pretended he could see, and told them where to dig; but they never found their treasure. At length the public, becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of Justice….. This was four or five years ago.
    (Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, April 9, 1831, p. 120; bolding and underlining added for emphasis)

    So I think it fair to say that Joseph Smith’s treasure hunting was NOT considered honorable, or respectable. It seems that those who engaged in such practices were viewed with a fair bit of disdain at the time.  In fact, I don’t think it too far a stretch to simply call it a “confidence game”:

    “A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. A confidence artist is an individual working alone or in concert with others who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as greed, both dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, naïveté, and the thought of trying to get something of value for nothing or for something far less valuable.”
    (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_trick )

    And that, of course, would have made Joseph Smith, Jr. a “con man” to use today’s term.

    • Anonymous Reply

      I have to say that both of your responses above are dodges to my question. You suggested that both Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham translation and his money digging activities were “cons”. As you note above a confidence man tries to “get something of value for nothing or for something far less valuable.” Inherent in the confidence game is that the con man doesn’t believe in what he is doing. I will readily admit that treasure digging was not considered a reputable business by outsiders. However, that was NOT the question at hand, the question at hand is the one you evaded.

      Which explains Joseph Smith’s actions better in translating the Book of Abraham, that Joseph Smith was a believer or that he was a confidence man? Which explains the Smith family members spending long nights in back breaking labor digging for treasure- that the family believed they would find treasure or that they were playing a confidence game?

    • Anonymous Reply

      I have to say that both of your responses above are dodges to my question. You suggested that both Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham translation and his money digging activities were “cons”. As you note above a confidence man tries to “get something of value for nothing or for something far less valuable.” Inherent in the confidence game is that the con man doesn’t believe in what he is doing. I will readily admit that treasure digging was not considered a reputable business by outsiders. However, that was NOT the question at hand, the question at hand is the one you evaded.

      Which explains Joseph Smith’s actions better in translating the Book of Abraham, that Joseph Smith was a believer or that he was a confidence man? Which explains the Smith family members spending long nights in back breaking labor digging for treasure- that the family believed they would find treasure or that they were playing a confidence game?

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Respectfully George I’m not dodging anything. I suspect that accusation is due more to the frustration you may feel that I’m not “buying it” (to borrow from John in the podcast) than anything else.

        YOU WROTE
        “Which explains the Smith family members spending long nights in back breaking labor digging for treasure- that the family believed they would find treasure or that they were playing a confidence game?”

        MY RESPONSE
        I thought I was clear that they were playing a confidence game. First it’s a qualitative assessment that the labor was “back breaking” – especially since, as the Isaac Hale testimony states, the “marks” did the work not Joseph Smith, Sr. and Jr. Second, a con only works IF the mark feels some degree of CONFIDENCE in the grifter. So the grifter has to “put a little in to get a lot out”.

        Ever watch “Leverage” on TNT?
        Ever read Tom Sawyer?
        Ever see “The Sting”?

        So it’s hardly surprising that Joseph Smith Sr. and Jr. would be traipsing all over the place digging away and making it look real. Luman Walters taught them well.

        YOU WROTE
        “Which explains Joseph Smith’s actions better in translating the Book of Abraham, that Joseph Smith was a believer or that he was a confidence man?”

        MY RESPONSE
        Please reread the Martha Beck excerpt again. A: “he was a confidence man”. However, but 1835 his megalomania was clearly starting to kick in and the old pathological liar was really beginning to believe his own “press releases.”

        This is hardly surprising, we see this in celebrities and con-men all the time. However, in this case two books have been written on Smith’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder:


        Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon

        Robert D. Anderson
        (see
        http://www.amazon.com/Robert-D.-Anderson/e/B001K8JPIE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 )

        And

        The Sword of Laban: Joseph Smith, Jr., and the Dissociated Mind
        by William D., M.D. Morain
        (see http://www.amazon.com/Sword-Laban-Joseph-Smith-Dissociated/dp/0880488646/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312734546&sr=1-1 )

        The first book was written by a Latter-day Saint, the second by a member of the Community of Christ. And both give as good as good insight into Joseph Smith’s megalomania as can be expected when one is doing an assessment of a deceased figure.

        And, of course, I would be remiss if I failed to mentioned the first, now classic work that addressed this theme:

        No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith
        (see http://www.amazon.com/No-Man-Knows-My-History/dp/0679730540/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312734822&sr=1-1 )
        by Fawn Brodie

        And, of course, I haven’t even touched on Latter-day Saint C. Jess Groesbeck’s superb Sunstone Lectures when he synthesizes and summarizes all the above works and adds his own two pence as a Jungian Psychotherapist and Forensic Psychologist:
        https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/search/?q=c.+jess+groesbeck&uss=1&action=search

        So George what I’m proposing is hardly new or unsupported by thought, research, and evidence. I’m sorry that you don’t like it but I think that ultimately we’re simply going to have to agree to disagree.

        And like I said in my prior post, Smith’s Masonic root and experiences simply gave him a rich, fertile new field to plagiarize from. So he did.

        I admire his skills as a confidence man, I really do – in the same way that I admire the skills of “The Joseph Smith of the Twentieth Century”, L. Ron Hubbard. I’ll never join either religion but the resulting construct and it’s power to persuade in both cases is simply stunning (and I mean that in every sense of the word).

        • Anonymous Reply

          Fred- Dang!!!! I guess I am actually going to have to write this up for you. Arghhhh!!! I really hoped you would see it for yourself thus saving me the time. Oh well. First of Fred, I think you are right that this information will not convince you that Joseph Smith was a prophet. To be honest with you that is not nor never has been my intention. I know that this is hard to believe, but I am a historian who is interested in figuring out what Joseph Smith is thinking and I really don’t care where the cards fall. I will try and put this together for you in the near future.

          • Fred W. Anson

            YOU WROTE
            ” I know that this is hard to believe, but I am a historian who is interested in figuring out what Joseph Smith is thinking and I really don’t care where the cards fall.”

            MY RESPONSE
            Yes, I do indeed find that hard to believe.  Your conclusions thus far don’t appear to reflect than objective stance.  And citing LdS Church Apologists like Don Bradley doesn’t reflect that stance either. 

             If they didn’t we wouldn’t be having this conversation. 

          • Fred W. Anson

            YOU WROTE
            ” I know that this is hard to believe, but I am a historian who is interested in figuring out what Joseph Smith is thinking and I really don’t care where the cards fall.”

            MY RESPONSE
            Yes, I do indeed find that hard to believe.  Your conclusions thus far don’t appear to reflect than objective stance.  And citing LdS Church Apologists like Don Bradley doesn’t reflect that stance either. 

             If they didn’t we wouldn’t be having this conversation. 

  13. Mike Tannehillke7 Reply

    Brother Miller,

    Could yu share with us your knowledge concerning the source material that the Masonic histories used? There is an impression made that since Joseph Smith used this text as a surce the information used is bogus. I think if they are using good source material it adds to rather than takes away from the importance of the doctrines.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Mike – This is a good question and a complicated one. George Oliver had available to him in writing Antiquities of Freemasonry a very large library including the works of Josephus, Rabbinical writing, George Stanley Faber’s works on the mysteries and many other rare academic and religious resources. George Oliver combines information from these sources in a distinct way and ties it into his newly revised version of Masonic history. George Oliver’s distinct finger print is all over Joseph Smith’s scriptural works including but limited to the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and the Book of Abraham.

      From your above question I believe there are two particular ideas you are playing with. (1) Joseph Smith didn’t use George Oliver at all and the similarities are there simply because Joseph got the stuff from God and George Oliver was a “really good” historian. This argument is IMHO largely intractable because of the George Oliver’s distinct fingerprint in Joseph Smith’s work. (2) Joseph Smith borrowed from George Oliver, but he was inspired in choosing his sources, because as it turns out George Oliver was historically correct and for example the element he added to the Abraham story were ACTUALLY ancient. There are “a few” aspects were this argument “may” have some merit. However, one must take into account that much of the Masonic AND religious history from which George Oliver borrowed from has since been discredited and in fact George Oliver has long been discredited as well in Masonic circles for his uncritical treatment of the data.

      While I do think there are some interesting “gems” for researchers to mine, I also think that as an “apologetic” strategy it will be rather thin gruel.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        And George, 5 or 6 episodes later my memory from episodes 1 and 2 is fading.
        (Sorry)

        Exactly how, when and where did Joseph Smith find out about and come to reference Oliver’s work? 

        And I apologize for my bad Random Access Memory!
        (I would blame it on too much pot in the 70’s but I actually think it’s age catching up with me)

        • Anonymous Reply

          The book Antiquities of Freemasonry was written for the general public and first published in England in 1823. George Oliver lived and wrote in England, but how popular and influential were his writing in America? Between 1823-1830 George Oliver produced four books Antiquities of Freemasonry (1823), Star in the East (1825), Signs and Symbols (1826), and History of Initiation (1829). Because of the limited scope and capacity of American Masonic publishers, it is difficult to determine the extent to which George Oliver’s books were read during the late 1820s, but we do know that New York Masons became acquainted with his works early because while George Oliver had only entered the Masonic publishing stage three years earlier, there are subscriptions for 11 copies of Sign and Symbols from two New York lodges (St. George’s Lodge No. 9 and Washington Lodge No. 84).

          The Morgan Affair would decimate masonic membership between 1826-1830. During this period anti-masonic presses would swell, with some reports suggesting that one in eight presses were masonic presses. These presses would lambast Masonic claims to antiquity. In 1828 one such tongue in cheek account would read:
          Preston, Webb, Oliver, and some other highly approved historians of “the most ancient and honorable society that ever was, or perhaps ever will be,” give account of it [Freemasonry] in the days of the years before the sun gave its light, or the earth received its form, well balanced in the heavens. To the Garden of Eden it came with our first parents…”
          Later the same anti-masonic author made a list of english works Americans should reference which were “proper to be trusted for the true history of Freemasonry.” Of these woks, only one author, George Oliver, would have more than one works mentioned: Antiquitites of Freemasonry, Signs and Symbols, and The Star in the East. In 1830 the Anti-Masonic state convention in Massachusetts would publish in its proceedings which discussed George Oliver and William Hutchinson as “the standard authors of the system,” and their writings as, “approved works called histories of Free Masonry” and attribute to them the belief that, “Noah held a lodge in the ark, that, in the confusion of tongues, the Masons retained the language of Eden, which is now universal in the lodges of Free Masons in all the nations of the earth.” As soon as the Masonic clamor began to subside John Fellows would publish his book An Exposition of the Mysteries. He referred to George Oliver repeatedly and quoted extensively from George Oliver’s book Signs and Symbols. Therefore George Oliver’s works were known among both American Masons and anti-Masons from the mid to late 1820’s and onward.

          In addition to Masonic and Antimasonic sources, non-Masonic periodicals also picked up on George Oliver’s works during this period. In 1835 the The North American Quarterly Magazine would review Oliver’s History of Initiation noting that “Mr. Oliver, who has already favoured the world with some discussions on parallel topics” had produced a work which was “no namby-pamby jumble of incidents” but instead elucidated the “actual operation” of the mysteries. The reviewer felt the work to be scholarly and “every illustration is vouchsafed on some competent authority.” The reviewers included large quotations from the book and concluded that “we do not doubt that [a reader] will derive considerable amusement, and reap a proportionate degree of instruction” from the book. Religious periodicals would also print George Oliver’s writings. In 1832 the Christian Index printed an article by George Oliver on blood sacrifice which borrowed heavily from History of Initiation. Thus during the 1830s George Oliver’s writings were known to the American secular and religious worlds.

          By the late 1830’s the anti-masonic clamor generated by the Morgan Affair had begun to subside and the fraternity began to recover. As soon As the Masonic presses came back online George Oliver name would appear as the Masonic blazing star. The January 1, 1842 edition of the Freemasons’ Magazine reported on the cornerstone laying ceremony of a new masonic hall in Lincoln, England. After commenting that they had endeavored to condense information about the event to the “narrowest possible compass” it was reported that George Oliver “one of the most profound scholars and learned Masons in England” had given an address based on 2 Cor 5:1 “A house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.” It was reported that his discourse was “able, learned, and strictly Masonic” and that the magazine had “sent to our correspondent at London for a copy” in hopes of being “able to lay some portions of it before our readers.” In another issue one reader would ask a question and propose that the editors inquire about an answer from a number of masonic scholars. He would then note that “we ought not to omit the Rev. Dr. Oliver, as perhaps the most competent to decide.” Later the editor noted that he “received by the last steamer from England, a sermon by our distinguished and learned Brother, the Rev. Geo. Oliver … which we shall probably publish in our next number” which the editor informs his reader would be “a rare and most acceptable treat.” In contrast to Oliver’s speech which he would endeavor to publish immediately, the editor noted he had received “a quantity of matter, of equal excellence; all of which will appear in due time.” Later in the same volume one author summarizes a paper by a Jewish author D. Rosenberg. In the paper was outlined information about the Kabbalistic text ספר רזיאל המלאך (The Book of Raziel the Angel). The author notes that Rosenberg’s conclusion that “Masonry originated with the Hebrews” was “contended by Oliver and others.” So widely respected was George Oliver that the third volume of The Freemason’s Monthly Magazine was dedicated to Oliver with the following description of Oliver’s impact.

          To the Rev. George Oliver, D.D. Past Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire, England, The minister, whose precepts and practices are blended in the inculcation of religious truth; the disciple, whose whole life is an exemplification of the Christian character: the Freemason, whose vigorous intellect has penetrated the Arcana of Masonry, brought forth its invaluable treasures, and restored the holy vessels, whose enlarged mind with invigorating power over this Western Hemisphere, enlightening with that wisdom which leadeth to the Holy of Holies; this third volume of the Freemasons’ Magazine is very respectfully dedicated.

          Throughout its printing the Freemason Monthly Magazine would hail George Oliver as the preeminent and predominant Masonic scholar.

          Another readout of the how important American Freemasons took the writings of George Oliver can be seen by examining advertisements for Oliver’s works in the Freemasons Monthly Magazine. The Freemasons Masonic Magazine began to advertise books for sale in the November 1, 1845 edition of the paper. A total of 23 works are listed for sale. Of these 23 works 12 were either written or edited by George Oliver. The magazine also sold “portraits of celebrated Freemasons.” Five portraits were for sale including such notables as George IV, the Earl of Moira, Richard Smith, Rev. George Oliver, and Mrs. Aldeworth. Of the five, only George Oliver’s picture is offered on both plain paper and India paper. Two years later the magazine had reduced the number of works to 22 items of which 15 were written or edited by George Oliver. The same notables’ portraits are on sale but now three versions of George Oliver portrait are now available. Thus George Oliver’s works dominated the masonic literary market with one half to greater than two-thirds of the market. Notably George Oliver was the only person represented more than once and none of his works were dropped from publication. Thus the American Masonic scholar, and contemporary of Joseph Smith, Albert MacKay would say of George Oliver: 

          The Rev. George Oliver, D.D., one of the most distinguished and learned of Englism Masons… It must be acknowledged that no writer in the English Language has ever done so much to elevate the scientific character of Freemasonry. … Dr. Oliver was in fact the founder of what may be called the literary school of Masonry. Bringing to the study of the Institution an amount of archaeological learning but seldom surpassed, and inexhaustible fund of multifarious reading, and all the laborious researches of genuine scholar, he gave to Freemasonry a literary and philosophic character which has induced many succeeding scholars to devote themselves to those studies which he made so attractive.

          Given that Masons, Anti-Masons, and religious writers of Joseph Smith’s day were acquainted with George Oliver and his works, it is likely Joseph Smith could have acquired some of his works. Joseph Smith likely received a copy of AoF that was purchased and passed around New York lodges and was given to him by his father, brother, or friend who was a Mason. Alternately he could have acquired a copy from one of the defunct lodges across New York which largely went dark or out of existence in the aftermath of the Morgan Affair.

        • Anonymous Reply

          The book Antiquities of Freemasonry was written for the general public and first published in England in 1823. George Oliver lived and wrote in England, but how popular and influential were his writing in America? Between 1823-1830 George Oliver produced four books Antiquities of Freemasonry (1823), Star in the East (1825), Signs and Symbols (1826), and History of Initiation (1829). Because of the limited scope and capacity of American Masonic publishers, it is difficult to determine the extent to which George Oliver’s books were read during the late 1820s, but we do know that New York Masons became acquainted with his works early because while George Oliver had only entered the Masonic publishing stage three years earlier, there are subscriptions for 11 copies of Sign and Symbols from two New York lodges (St. George’s Lodge No. 9 and Washington Lodge No. 84).

          The Morgan Affair would decimate masonic membership between 1826-1830. During this period anti-masonic presses would swell, with some reports suggesting that one in eight presses were masonic presses. These presses would lambast Masonic claims to antiquity. In 1828 one such tongue in cheek account would read:
          Preston, Webb, Oliver, and some other highly approved historians of “the most ancient and honorable society that ever was, or perhaps ever will be,” give account of it [Freemasonry] in the days of the years before the sun gave its light, or the earth received its form, well balanced in the heavens. To the Garden of Eden it came with our first parents…”
          Later the same anti-masonic author made a list of english works Americans should reference which were “proper to be trusted for the true history of Freemasonry.” Of these woks, only one author, George Oliver, would have more than one works mentioned: Antiquitites of Freemasonry, Signs and Symbols, and The Star in the East. In 1830 the Anti-Masonic state convention in Massachusetts would publish in its proceedings which discussed George Oliver and William Hutchinson as “the standard authors of the system,” and their writings as, “approved works called histories of Free Masonry” and attribute to them the belief that, “Noah held a lodge in the ark, that, in the confusion of tongues, the Masons retained the language of Eden, which is now universal in the lodges of Free Masons in all the nations of the earth.” As soon as the Masonic clamor began to subside John Fellows would publish his book An Exposition of the Mysteries. He referred to George Oliver repeatedly and quoted extensively from George Oliver’s book Signs and Symbols. Therefore George Oliver’s works were known among both American Masons and anti-Masons from the mid to late 1820’s and onward.

          In addition to Masonic and Antimasonic sources, non-Masonic periodicals also picked up on George Oliver’s works during this period. In 1835 the The North American Quarterly Magazine would review Oliver’s History of Initiation noting that “Mr. Oliver, who has already favoured the world with some discussions on parallel topics” had produced a work which was “no namby-pamby jumble of incidents” but instead elucidated the “actual operation” of the mysteries. The reviewer felt the work to be scholarly and “every illustration is vouchsafed on some competent authority.” The reviewers included large quotations from the book and concluded that “we do not doubt that [a reader] will derive considerable amusement, and reap a proportionate degree of instruction” from the book. Religious periodicals would also print George Oliver’s writings. In 1832 the Christian Index printed an article by George Oliver on blood sacrifice which borrowed heavily from History of Initiation. Thus during the 1830s George Oliver’s writings were known to the American secular and religious worlds.

          By the late 1830’s the anti-masonic clamor generated by the Morgan Affair had begun to subside and the fraternity began to recover. As soon As the Masonic presses came back online George Oliver name would appear as the Masonic blazing star. The January 1, 1842 edition of the Freemasons’ Magazine reported on the cornerstone laying ceremony of a new masonic hall in Lincoln, England. After commenting that they had endeavored to condense information about the event to the “narrowest possible compass” it was reported that George Oliver “one of the most profound scholars and learned Masons in England” had given an address based on 2 Cor 5:1 “A house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.” It was reported that his discourse was “able, learned, and strictly Masonic” and that the magazine had “sent to our correspondent at London for a copy” in hopes of being “able to lay some portions of it before our readers.” In another issue one reader would ask a question and propose that the editors inquire about an answer from a number of masonic scholars. He would then note that “we ought not to omit the Rev. Dr. Oliver, as perhaps the most competent to decide.” Later the editor noted that he “received by the last steamer from England, a sermon by our distinguished and learned Brother, the Rev. Geo. Oliver … which we shall probably publish in our next number” which the editor informs his reader would be “a rare and most acceptable treat.” In contrast to Oliver’s speech which he would endeavor to publish immediately, the editor noted he had received “a quantity of matter, of equal excellence; all of which will appear in due time.” Later in the same volume one author summarizes a paper by a Jewish author D. Rosenberg. In the paper was outlined information about the Kabbalistic text ספר רזיאל המלאך (The Book of Raziel the Angel). The author notes that Rosenberg’s conclusion that “Masonry originated with the Hebrews” was “contended by Oliver and others.” So widely respected was George Oliver that the third volume of The Freemason’s Monthly Magazine was dedicated to Oliver with the following description of Oliver’s impact.

          To the Rev. George Oliver, D.D. Past Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire, England, The minister, whose precepts and practices are blended in the inculcation of religious truth; the disciple, whose whole life is an exemplification of the Christian character: the Freemason, whose vigorous intellect has penetrated the Arcana of Masonry, brought forth its invaluable treasures, and restored the holy vessels, whose enlarged mind with invigorating power over this Western Hemisphere, enlightening with that wisdom which leadeth to the Holy of Holies; this third volume of the Freemasons’ Magazine is very respectfully dedicated.

          Throughout its printing the Freemason Monthly Magazine would hail George Oliver as the preeminent and predominant Masonic scholar.

          Another readout of the how important American Freemasons took the writings of George Oliver can be seen by examining advertisements for Oliver’s works in the Freemasons Monthly Magazine. The Freemasons Masonic Magazine began to advertise books for sale in the November 1, 1845 edition of the paper. A total of 23 works are listed for sale. Of these 23 works 12 were either written or edited by George Oliver. The magazine also sold “portraits of celebrated Freemasons.” Five portraits were for sale including such notables as George IV, the Earl of Moira, Richard Smith, Rev. George Oliver, and Mrs. Aldeworth. Of the five, only George Oliver’s picture is offered on both plain paper and India paper. Two years later the magazine had reduced the number of works to 22 items of which 15 were written or edited by George Oliver. The same notables’ portraits are on sale but now three versions of George Oliver portrait are now available. Thus George Oliver’s works dominated the masonic literary market with one half to greater than two-thirds of the market. Notably George Oliver was the only person represented more than once and none of his works were dropped from publication. Thus the American Masonic scholar, and contemporary of Joseph Smith, Albert MacKay would say of George Oliver: 

          The Rev. George Oliver, D.D., one of the most distinguished and learned of Englism Masons… It must be acknowledged that no writer in the English Language has ever done so much to elevate the scientific character of Freemasonry. … Dr. Oliver was in fact the founder of what may be called the literary school of Masonry. Bringing to the study of the Institution an amount of archaeological learning but seldom surpassed, and inexhaustible fund of multifarious reading, and all the laborious researches of genuine scholar, he gave to Freemasonry a literary and philosophic character which has induced many succeeding scholars to devote themselves to those studies which he made so attractive.

          Given that Masons, Anti-Masons, and religious writers of Joseph Smith’s day were acquainted with George Oliver and his works, it is likely Joseph Smith could have acquired some of his works. Joseph Smith likely received a copy of AoF that was purchased and passed around New York lodges and was given to him by his father, brother, or friend who was a Mason. Alternately he could have acquired a copy from one of the defunct lodges across New York which largely went dark or out of existence in the aftermath of the Morgan Affair.

          • Fred W. Anson

            OK, got it.  I don’t know why but hearing it and then seeing it in print really helps me grasp the thesis better. 

            So, if I’m understanding you correctly, your thesis is that the while the book might not have been widely known or available in America, the ideas in the book were known to a subset of Masons AND it’s reasonable to assume that Joseph Smith either read from a copy in his local lodge or had a copy in his library.This make sense since it’s well known that Joseph Smith was a reader during the Palmyra period and that he borrowed a lot of books from friends, neighbors, and the local library.  I would have to dig to find my source on this but if I recall it’s either Quinn, Marquadt or one of the Sunstone lectures on Swenborg.  I can dig if you’d like me to.   However, it’s interesting to note that after he came into money Smith’s personal library was extensive. Somewhere in my research archives I have a clip of a donation of books that Smith made to the Nauvoo library and it’s quite large – over 100-books as I recall, in an era when books were NOT cheap. 

          • Anonymous

            Hey Fred- you have correctly summarized my argument, though there a few extra fact that I have not shared above.

            I had not thought about taking the argument in that direction, probably because it seems to me that the good historians have accepted that view of Joseph Smith pretty readily these days, but I think bringing this point up would strengthen the argument. I, like you, know I have read this someplace, and I in fact looked to see if Joseph Smith had donated the book to the Nauvoo book exchange/library previously, which I assumed was unlikely from the get go, but if you would be so kind as to identify this reference I think a few brief lines in the text would improve the paper. My sincerest thanks.

          • Fred W. Anson

            You’ve got it George – off to the library I go.  

            I had to really, really dig to find it the first time – and you would have thought that I would been smart enough to tuck it away in my research archives.  But, of course, as my critics will tell you – I’m just not all that smart! 

            😉 

            Please stand by, I’ll be back soon. 

  14. Sebecloki Reply

    Thank you, Dr. Miller, for an absolutely fascinating series here, I think you’re really clearing some exciting new ground here in your work for Mormon Studies, particularly the theological end which I see perhaps less attention to in the existing literature than I would like. I’m really looking forward to hearing the rest of your research on the Utah Period. 

    I have a few additional queries I hope you might entertain. Forgive me if this has already been answered, I have been trying to keep up with the comment threads but I haven’t seen these particular questions answered:

    (1) Orson Pratt’s concept in the Seer of atoms with a nascent intelligent spark that get organized together by various godheads to create spirit bodies, as well as the possibility that animal and vegetable life possesses this same makeup and their own godheads in their own forms (at least I understand that to be an inference from his cosmology when he says everything, including the vegetable and plant life, is going to be restored in the eschaton). Is there anything in Masonry etc. that relates to this, especially the idea of the un-created universe, out of which the first spark which began to develop is the great great great great…. grandfather God. 

    (2) The notion per the Sermon in the Grove and King Follett Funeral Discourse that God was once a human being Himself. 

    (3) The ‘Ring Analogy’ from the Sermon in the Grove–I take that to potentially imply cyclical time or eternal recurrence. 

    (4) Heavenly Mother.

    (5) The idea that everything spiritual is also material–that spirit is just a more refined version of matter. 

    I appreciate any comments or thoughts you might have and look forward to reading your future publication of this work, especially the stuff on the Golden Plates with Mike Reed I have seen you hinting at on other boards. 

    • Anonymous Reply

      ” Orson Pratt’s concept in the Seer of atoms with a nascent intelligent spark that get organized together by various godheads to create spirit bodies,”
      This is not a teaching of Masonry per se, however, Joseph Smith’s ideas on this come from Masonic related sources. Joseph Smith’s ideas on this is synthesized from ideas from Henry Cornelious Agrippa’s book “De Occulta Philosophia” whom many Masons believed was the a prominent  Freemason responsible for starting many lodges in Europe,  Hosea Ballou who was a Universalist and a Mason who wrote religious and Masonic tracts discussing the preexistence of man’s spirit and a little bit about the metaphysics of that process and a few passages from George Oliver’s work “Antiquities of Freemasonry” which Joseph Smith interpreted as discussions on the preexistence. Of these works “De Occulta Philosophia was the major contribution.

      “The notion per the Sermon in the Grove and King Follett Funeral Discourse that God was once a human being Himself. ”
      The King Follet Discourse was prepared for the the Nauvoo’s deceased Masonic brother King Follet who was to receive a Masonic funeral; however, Joseph Smith got ill and was unable to give the speech at the funeral and it was postponed till later. As with typical Masonic orations, such as funeral speeches, it contains some Masonic language and Masonic allusions.

      “The ‘Ring Analogy’ from the Sermon in the Grove–I take that to potentially imply cyclical time or eternal recurrence. ”
      There are potential Masonic connections here, but I have been unable to date the particular allusion contained within Scottish Rite Masonry back to the time of Joseph.

      “(4) Heavenly Mother.”
      There are potential Masonicesque sources for this concept. Freemasonry contains makes reference to the three pillar; and it was common for any Mason who knew about Kabbalah to view these pillars as part of the three pillars of the “Tree of Life”. The pillar in the West is considered feminine in the Kabbalistic tradition and this “could” have been part of Joseph Smith’s reasons for thinking about the Heavenly Mother doctrine. However, parsing out how much Joseph Smith understood about Kabbalah has been difficult, but it is one of the projects I am undertaking.

      “The idea that everything spiritual is also material–that spirit is just a more refined version of matter. ”
      While this is not technically a Masonic idea, Joseph Smith is taking this idea from Masonic sources. In particular he is combining the ideas of the Freemason Hosea Ballou and comments made in Antiquities of Freemasonry to derive these doctrines. I also suspect there are ideas about this in Agrippa but that is still a matter of investigation.

      • sebecloki Reply

        That’s wonderful–thank you so much for your time. Looking forward to the rest of this and the eventual publication.

  15. sebecloki Reply

    I really enjoyed this podcast and think Dr. Miller is doing some really exciting work. Unless I totally misunderstood, I think I might be able to add some clarifying observations to the discussion of priesthood concepts in non-Restorationist traditions, particularly in Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. I think there may actually be a little more similarity between the Mormon, Anglican, and RCC versions then came out in the discussion. Being a priest denotes undergoing an ontological change that allows one to perform several of the sacraments–namely hearing confessions, anointing with oil, confecting the Eucharist. Being a bishop further allows one to ordain priests and other bishops. Being a deacon is associated with lesser privileges, so there is some parallel between the Mormon conception of the prepatory aspects of the Gospel ordinances like Baptism, confecting the Sacrament, and pronouncing blessings etc., whereas the Melichizedek priesthood is associated with ‘higher ordinances’ like Temple marriage, the endowment, second annointing which are requisite for deification (unless I am mistaken about that). The degree to which you will see the magical ‘baton-passing’ metaphor used of ordination depends on what author you read, but that magical understanding is basically there. Traditional catholics like the SSPX and certain sedevacantist Thuc Line group’s are going to be more specific about some of the ritual (which is sort of the whole debate over apostolicare curae if you’re familiar with that). There is definitely a mantle of power bequeathed in ordination–even if you are excommunicated, you retain your priesthood in the RCC–thus you have what are called vagante orders–which are illicit but valid. Orthodox and, as far as I know, Oriental Orthodox have a slightly different conception based on a different sacramentology and ecclesiology. This becomes an interesting issue in dealing with early Church history. Eamon Duffy had an interesting little exchange with a Friar of the Black Friars, Oxford, over his History of the Popes and how ordination powers were passed through a council of elders in the early Roman community, given the evidence of Clement’s epistles and Paul’s toponymous epistle, not to mention Lampe’s recent work whcih strongly suggest a presbyterate rather than monarchical episcopate. The take away is that there is a mysterious power which is transferred from generation to generation since the ‘tounges of fire’ in acts descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost. I think the notion of recognition of atainment of knoweldge as ordination is more characteristic of Rabbininc, and Shi’a concepts. I still think Dr. Miller has made an enormous advance here in identifying the parallel in Antiquities of Freemasonry that God is a Mason–as the idea of God either having Priesthood or God being a priesthood office is indeed unique to Mormonism so far as I am aware.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Thanks for that clarification. I think there is a large amount of good material in what you have shared above. I would be interested in your take on this then. While I know these traditions do exist in Roman Catholocism and some anglican faiths, I am wondering how prevalent these ideas would have been in New England American during the 1810s-1840s given that the religious spectrum was still largely dominated by Calvinistic and other Protestant faiths which largely held the stance of the priesthood of all believers. How likely do you think it is that Joseph Smith would have had ready access to these ideas that you have dictated above in comparison to the Masonic ideas I have discussed?

      • sebeckloki Reply

        Dr. Miller, I just lost a long post I made here but I’m going to summarize with the caveat–I am a PhD student in Old Testament (I also have an BA and MA in Near Eastern Studies) at Duke with a decade long interest in 19th century Mormonism, not a specialist in American religion. As an Episcopalian I could point you towards some suggestive priesthood language in the Book of Common Prayer, and there are also some Methodist-Episcopal and inter-Anglican church controversies that touch upon this issue that I would wonder whether discussed. I just want to emphasize I again I think you’re doing great work here and I was just brainstorming based on the podcast. I’d be open to email exchange if you want to discuss some of these ideas more in depth.   

      • sebeckloki Reply

        Dr. Miller, I just lost a long post I made here but I’m going to summarize with the caveat–I am a PhD student in Old Testament (I also have an BA and MA in Near Eastern Studies) at Duke with a decade long interest in 19th century Mormonism, not a specialist in American religion. As an Episcopalian I could point you towards some suggestive priesthood language in the Book of Common Prayer, and there are also some Methodist-Episcopal and inter-Anglican church controversies that touch upon this issue that I would wonder whether discussed. I just want to emphasize I again I think you’re doing great work here and I was just brainstorming based on the podcast. I’d be open to email exchange if you want to discuss some of these ideas more in depth.   

        • Anonymous Reply

          Just call me George, as we in the biology field say, I am not that kind of doctor and we don’t like such pretense. I am supremely interested in what you have written and I would be happy to discuss with you more on the subject. You suggest several sources I might consult, and I would love to get the particulars. I would also interested in hearing the topic of your Ph.D. project at Duke. Pretty Please contact me backchannel at georgemillerpm@gmail.com.

      • KByrneUK Reply

        It’s a very weak point of speculation, but I think that if Joseph Smith had any contact with Catholicism the most plausible source would be from the French-Canadian communities of northern New England and New York – but given the extent of these communities and other factors it’s an unlikely hypothesis

  16. Anonymous Reply

    George, 
    On the cover page of A of F, George Oliver says that book is about “The Five Grand Periods of Masonry, from the Creation of the World to the Dedication of Solomon’s Temple”.  A few pages later (ADVERTISMENT) he wrote that he would publish later a book about the “Two additional periods of Masonry ending with the Advent of Jesus Christ”.   Did G.O. write this additional book?  If so, I would love to see it.  I can’t for the life of me see how anyone could view Jesus as a Freemason.  His message seems so antithetical to any group that has prescribed rituals for entering into the Kingdom of Heaven (The Grand Lodge Above, lol).  This is why many people do not believe Mormons to be Christians.  We require too many rituals (not to mention Pass Words) for getting into Heaven (the Celestial Kingdom).      

    Also, what are the dispensations?  A o F lists them as Asher, Manasseh, Ephriam, Benjamin, Simeon, ?, and Jesus Christ http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=KjoiAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PA371     

    LDS.org lists them as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Joseph Smith (last) dispensation: http://lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-brigham-young/chapter-14-dispensations-of-the-gospel?lang=eng

    Are the LDS dispensations the same as the dispensations listed in A of F?  Also, according to G. O., what is the dispensation before the Advent of Jesus? 

    Thanks George for this information. 

    • Anonymous Reply

      The dispensation according the George Oliver are actually contained as the names of every other chapter in AoF. They are:

      (1) Adam-Enoch  (ADAM)
      (2) Enoch to Universal Flood   (ENOCH)
      (3) Deluge to Sacrifice of Isaac   (NOAH)
      (4) Offering of Isaac to Egyptian Captivity (ABRAHAM-ISSAC-JACOB-JOSEPH)
      (5) Moses to Solomon.  (MOSES)

      Thus the LDS version does in fact roughly recapitulate the Mormon view. At this point in our conversation I hope this is no longer surprising.

      You also asked about the two other period of time mentioned by George Oliver. While he never produced a work specifically on this, Oliver’s thoughts on this are scattered throughout his other works. While I do not place much historical stock in the ideas they consist of the following arguments. The patron saint of Masonry are Saint John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelists and in Freemasonry they were considered Masons. It was believed by Oliver that John the Baptist grew up in Jerusalem as a member of the Essene community. Oliver’s thoughts on the Essene community were based in part on Sir David Brewster and Alexander Lawrie ideas printed in “The history of freemasonry, drawn from authentic sources of information” which describes the Essenes and their Masonic ceremonies.

      “”Amongst the primitive Masons, this badge received a characteristic distinction from its peculiar colour and material; and was indeed an unequivocal mark of superior dignity. The investiture of the Apron formed an essential part of the ceremony of initiation, and was attended with rites equally significant and impressive. With the Essenian Masons, it was accomplished by a process bearing a similar tendency, and accompanied by illustrations not less imposing and satisfactory to the newly initiated enquirer. He was clothed in a long White robe, which reached to the ground, bordered with a fringe of blue ribbon* to incite personal holiness; and fastened tightly round the waist with a girdle or zone, to separate the heart from the lower and more impure parts of the body. With feet bare and head uncovered, he was considered a personification of modesty, humility, and the fear of God.

      It was the firm opinion of the Essenes, that internal purity and rectitude of conduct, were most strikingly evidenced by a person’s outward appearance. This belief was probably derived from that famous precept of king Solomon, who had constantly the same emblematical reference on his lips; “Let thy garments be always WHiTE.”f At his investiture the candidate was exhorted to to the practice of moral virtue from the incentive, not merely of happiness in this world, but of an expected recompence in a future state. This exhortation, enforced by the resistless efficacy of good example, produced in the initiated, a practical righteousness, which was ” worthy of admiration above all others that pretended to virtue; for they were, in their manners and course of life, the very best of men.”* Their chief employment was to learn to rule and govern their passions, to keep a tongue of good report, and to practise secrecy united with universal charity and benevolence. Hence their deviations from moral rectitude were not frequent. But if an instance did occur, in which the purity of the White Garment was sullied by intemperance or excess, the offender was formally excluded from all social intercourse with his former brethren, and declared unworthy of the Robe which he had disgraced by violated vows and shameless profligacy. This exclusion was considered a punishment of such a dreadful nature, that Josephus says, it was commonly followed by a lamentable death.”

      IIRC Oliver would likely have drawn on the job of Jesus which was that of “tekton” which while usually translated as carpenter today, can also be translated as builder or Mason. One this George Oliver would later make some observations about the Essenes in his book Signs and Symbols Illustrated.

      Oliver also viewed John the Revelator as a Mason and found evidence for this in the imagery in his work the Book of Revelations. On this he had to following to say from Signs and Symbols Illustrated.

      “The Apron is made of a Lamb’s Skin; its colour, White. These are understood amongst us as joint emblems of Innocence; by which we are properly and constantly reminded, that while clothed in that distinguishing badge, our conduct should be uniformly marked by the corresponding duties of innocence and integrity. The lamb was always esteemed an emblem of the purest innocence; and hence the Redeemer of mankind received the significant appellation of ‘* the Lamb of God,” because he was immaculate, and without spot or blemish.* And the colour White, as an unequivocal symbol of Light and Purity, has been honoured and venerated in all ages, by every nation and every people since the creation of light out of darkness. 

      Even the primitive christians adopted a custom so universally prevalent, so consonant with reason, sanctioned by the usage of all antiquity, and authorized by the solemn ordinances of a religion which had been instituted by the deity himself; for not only did the Jewish Prophets symbolize purity and impeccability by this colour; but the spotless Author of our religion is said to have been clad in raiment White as Light at his transfiguration, and White as snow after his resurrection. And the angelic messenger who appeared to the holy women at the sepulchre, was invested with a garment of the same colour. Many years after this, the divinity condescended to promise that every christian who should overcome the temptations of the world, should be rewarded with a White Stone, as an undeniable passport into the paradise of God, In a region blest with everlasting perfections, this colonr receives its final and most exalted mark of distinction. The glorified inheritors of those heavenly mansions, after being washed and purified in the blood of the LAMB,f shall be clothed in White Raiment, ride on White horses,§ and be seated on White thrones for ever and ever.
      Supported and encouraged by these animating authorities, the early followers of Jesus Christ, invested the catechumens with a White Robe, like that worn by the heavenly vision which encouraged Judas Maccabeus to purge his country of its impurities,^ accompanied by this solemn charge; “Receive the White and undefiled Garment, and produce it without spot before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may obtain eternal life.” In like manner Free Masons, when they invest a candidate with this distinguishing badge of their profession, tell him that it is the most exalted dignity that can be conferred; and exhort him not to disgrace it by actions which may reflect discredit on the Order into which he has had the honour to be admitted.”

      This type of discussion is likely what Oliver had in mind for the book he makes reference to in the beginning of his work.

  17. Fred W. Anson Reply

    @George Miller (and anyone else who’s interested)

    OK, I found one of the pieces that I recall from bygone days of research:  “Books Owned by Joseph” AND “Alphabetical list of books donated by Joseph Smith to the Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute, 31 January 1844”
    (last section on the list) 

    The source is Michael Marquadt and it’s a compilation piece that he has in his research archive website. Here’s the link http://www.xmission.com/~research/about/books.htm 

    Unfortunately, the page is heavily formated so rather than attempting to copy, paste, and reformat I’m just going to refer any interested readers to the original source instead. 

    I don’t see any of George Oliver’s titles on the list so I’ll contact Mike and see if he’s run across anything in his “travels” since this list was last updated.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Thanks for hunting this information down. I have looked at Marquardt’s list of book before, and I too had hoped to see AoF listed there, alas this was not the case. There are a few other leads on which I following up, and I still actually have hope that Joseph’s copy of AoF will someday turn up. Of course the largest number of the books on the list come from Joseph Smith’s donations to the Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute. To be honest, given the nature of AoF and his use of the book, I would not have suspected he would have donated the book.

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Yes, definitely keep going.  We know that this list is just a small subset of  what he had his personal library – there was a lot more. Have you talked to Richard Turley or the current LdS Church archivist yet (his name escapes me).   And don’t forget about the RLDS/CoC archives. My understanding is that their collection of books formerly owned by Smith, in both cases, is extensive. 

        Also, since books were so expensive in the 19th and 20th Centuries, borrowing was common.  For example, to support his Swenborg research Quinn pointed to the fact that the local library in (I think) Nauvoo had Swenborg’s book in their collection (“Magic World View” is where he discusses this I believe).

        In addition, Joseph Smith was fond of borrowing books from his neighbors throughout his life.

        So while we haven’t found a “smoking gun” yet, at least we know where to look.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Thanks a million for the idea of contacting Richard Turley. I have long thought that if this still exists that it would be in the RLDS/CoC archives. Finding a copy would be the “coup de gras” on this issue. Can you imagine potentially finding it AND Joseph Smith’s notes in the margin. 🙂

          • Fred W. Anson

            Well there you go!  And I’d don’t know if he’s still in the role but the archivist for the CoC the last time that I heard any reference to the position was Ron Romig. 

  18. Oregonortho Reply

    George,

    On the last episode you mentioned Joseph’s endowment being like a pendant body to the Blue Lodge degrees.  I got a little confused.  Did I miss-hear you? Would it be more correct to say he viewed it as a pendant body to the three degrees of freemasonry since there is no evidence that Joseph participated in the Blue Lodge degrees?  thanks – Mike

    • Anonymous Reply

      Joseph Smith was initiated, passed and raised to the sublime degee of Master Mason in 1842. From the time Joseph Smith became a Mason and up to the time he reveled the endowment in 1842, he actively participated in rituals at Nauvoo Lodge UD. Even after revealing the endowment Joseph Smith continued, as much as his schedule permitted, to attend lodge meetings and to participate in Blue Lodge ritual.

      All degree systems not including the Blue Lodge rituals are known as “appendant,”  “affiliated,” or “concordant,” Masonic bodies. Appendant bodies have rituals that usually are based on biblical or historical events and which often build upon and extend the meaning of the Blue Lodge degrees. Joseph Smith’s endowment ritual is “in effect” an appendant Masonic ritual specifically designed for Mormons. Does that answer your question?

  19. Oregonortho Reply

    Mr. Miller,
    You answered my question regarding the Blue Lodge, but raised more.  How should I view the Blue Lodge?  Should I look at it the same as I do the Scottish Rite and other versions of Freemasonry (having 3 basic degrees)?  Was it a Blue Lodge that Joseph set up in Nauvoo? The use of the words, appendant,”  “affiliated,” or “concordant,” confuse me a bit as well.   Should I view these bodies as offering degrees beyond the basic 3 degrees?
    mike

    • Anonymous Reply

      Hey Orgegonortho- I understand the confusion, and your confusion is perfectly understandable. 🙂

      The Blue Lodge degrees consist of the first three degrees of Masonry – Entered Apprentice (EA), Fellow Craft (FC) and Master Mason (MM). Once one have achieved the degree of Master Mason that is the highest degree one will ever receive, and you are considered on an equal standing with every other Freemason, wether he be the Master of the Lodge, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, or the newest made Mason, you stand amongst equals.

      However, the fact that the MM degree is the highest, has not stopped people over the years from creating and participating in other Masonic rituals.These are all considered side degrees, and they in some sense expand upon the general principles, ideals and symbols taught in the Blue Lodge degrees. Over time many of these side degrees have been grouped together into what are called rites, and the two most common rites in America are the Scottish Rite and York Rite. You should not view these degrees in these rites as higher, but as expansions on the Blue Lodge degrees. Think lateral movement not higher.

      Joseph through back channel means, namely through James Adams who was the past master of Springfield lodge, pushed the formation of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. In Nauvoo Joseph Smith helped bring Blue Lodge Masonry to Nauvoo through his influence with Hyrum (Hiram) Smith, George Miller and others Mormon Freemasons and through currying favor with Abraham Jonas, who wanted the Mormon vote.

      After Joseph Smith had successfully influenced the introduction of Blue Lodge Masonry to the Mormons, Joseph Smith sought to create his own Masonic rite which was reserved for Mormons alone. This is not that different than some of the other Masonic Rites. For example receipt of the last portion of the York Rite, a set of degrees called the Knight Templar degrees, requires one to be a Christian, and the same is true for the receipt of the Scottish Rite in England. 

      Joseph Smith created an appendant body for Mormon Masons and their wives which was modeled in part of the Royal Arch degrees and the Order of Mechizedek degree. Joseph’s Rite, his appendant body, drew upon the Christian interpretations of Masonic symbols and ideas, making the implicit Christian symbolism explicit, and thoroughly mixed it with Mormon meaning as well. More importantly, instead of drawing on imagery from Solomon’s temple, Joseph drew on Masonic myth that Adam received Masonry in its purity in the Garden of Eden
      and that Adam administered the same to his righteous posterity.

      I know that was a longwinded response, and I hope it answers your questions. If not please ask more questions.

  20. Oregonortho Reply

    Thank you George.  That cleared up things a lot.  Are there other lodge degrees that provide the first 3 degrees of free masonry that not Blue Lodge degrees?    Are all appendant degrees appendages of the Blue lodge degrees? I don’t even know if I have formulated my questions  correctly.  

    Thank you.  So far your podcasts and my discussions with you have gone beyond anything I have been able to read. My wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed them – Mike

    • Anonymous Reply

      Yes there are but none that were common in America during Joseph Smith’s day. The most common one today is a version of the first three degrees developed for the Scottish Rite degrees. However, the administration of them is not common. 

      Yes all other degrees in normal Masonry are considered to the appendant to the Blue Lodge degrees.

  21. Pingback: Episode 24 – Daughters in My Kingdom Chapter 2 – The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Part Two | Feminist Mormon Housewives Podcast

  22. TK Reply

    What is the name of the book that John was looking through with the pictures as George was ezplaining the pillars of Enoch?

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *