What is a Gentile?

I, as many of us, have laughed with the outside world at the thought that there are Mormons, presumably in the expanses of rural Utah, who routinely refer to Jews as Gentiles. The observation that in Utah a Jew is a Gentile seems to adorn most current journalistic treatments of Mormonism. Never having met a live Mormon guilty of such a gaffe, I have long assumed they existed historically. The more work I do in early Mormonism, the less certain I am that such Mormons ever existed.
Under the term Gentile, we English-speakers generally intend a translation of Hebrew goyim, the nations, meaning those who are not of the house of Israel. Such a division of self vs. other or national (tribal, etc) vs. foreigner is typical of almost every society known and often bears considerable weight in constructing worldviews. For a society which has spent so much time struggling to maintain its identity against outsiders, Judaism’s version of this division has come to represent paradigmatically what it means to view someone as an outsider.

At some level, objections to Mormon appropriation of the term Gentile to refer to outsiders may relate to concern about Mormon intrusion on the difficult history of Jewish nationhood, a sense that yet another Christian (or para-Christian) group has appropriated Jewish history for their own purposes, demonstrating a lack of respect for the tradition from which the specific term arose. Others may object to the sense of “chosenness” implied by use of the term Gentile. I think people snicker, though, because they believe (or want to believe) that the LDS are just dumb enough to not appreciate the irony of calling the Jews Gentiles.

However, my readings in Mormon history through about 1845 (I will confess I have not been as drawn to the Utah period as many others whose work I greatly respect) have given me no indication that any LDS termed Jews Gentiles. According to early usage, Gentile referred very specifically to American Protestants (and perhaps Catholics). The house of Israel, with its “remnants” of Jacob and Joseph, comprised a) actual Jews, b) Latter Day Saints, whether by birth or ordinance, and c) the native inhabitants of the New World. The very few encounters with Jews that the Mormons actually had (Alex Neibaur, whom they converted to Mormonism, and Joshua/James Seixas whom they did not realize had converted to Protestantism) suggested their earnest fascination with Jews.

These Mormons did, as most Christians, believe that Jews had rejected their true Messiah (witness Oliver Cowdery’s published discussion with a New York rabbi during his mission to obtain reference materials for the Kirtland Hebrew School), even as they anxiously sought to engraft themselves into the sacred Old Testament covenant. However dated and unkind that belief and its ramifications sound now, Mormons are a drop in a very large bucket on this topic.

The earliest Mormons did not view Jews as Gentiles, they viewed themselves as a part of the house of Israel. I am entirely sympathetic to Jews rejecting such bizarre proselytes, although feeling vaguely flattered is another possible response. But Christian Israelitism is much larger than Mormonism. The Puritans believed they were acting out Old Testament history, and a wide variety of Protestants to this day have seen the secrets of their future in the history of the Jewish people. For heaven’s sake, the Armageddon that incites such silly fiction and horrifying warmongering among some sectors of the Evangelical Right is a mountain in Israel, Har Megido.

I worry a little that there is a paper I’m unaware of that shows how in 1860 or 1890 or 1930 Mormon Utahns began to call Jews Gentiles. Please bring it to my attention if so, because I just can’t find it in early Mormonism. Was this something Brigham Young was known for preaching? Does anyone know a living Mormon that calls Jews Gentiles?

If this does prove to be an urban legend, what do you think is the significance of the legend?

Comments

  1. Sam, I do think the Utah period is when this sense of independence and separation really came to fruition, and would think it would be post 1845 that nonmormons were called Gentiles in a general sense. Now Jews as gentiles is a little more tricky, as their bloodlines were always viewed somewhat covetously. I think you’re going to have a hard time finding proof of it in print.

  2. Snorts at that first line. I’m from “rural Utah”, and using the word gentile is even more uncouth than it is in “urban” utah. Not to mention a little insulting. Just because someone is from the expanses of rural Utah, doesn’t mean they are ignorant country bumpkins compared to their urbane counterparts in “urban” utah. Sorry, but I’m calling you out on that. Calling anyone whether they are ethnically Jewish or anything else is lame, lame, lame.

  3. Last Lemming says:

    From the website of the American Jewish Historical Society:

    In 1916, Simon Bamberger ran for the office of governor of the state of Utah. Bamberger was the first non-Mormon, the first Democrat and the only Jew ever to seek that office. During the campaign, Bamberger visited a remote community in Southern Utah that had been settled by immigrant Norwegian converts to Mormonism. According to historian Leon Watters, the community’s leader, a towering Norwegian, met Bamberger at the train and told him menacingly, “You might yust as vell go right back vere you come from. If you tink ve let any damn Yentile speak in our meeting house, yure mistaken.” Bamberger is said to have replied, “As a Jew, I have been called many a bad name, but this is first time in my life I have been called a damned Gentile!” The Norwegian threw his arm around Bamberger and proclaimed, “You a Yew, an Israelite. Hear him men, he’s not a Yentile, he’s a Yew, an Israelite. Velcome my friend; velcome, our next governor.” The Norwegian was correct; Bamberger won the election.

  4. I personally heard this once or twice in my suburban Utah ward in the 1980s. But Jews-as-Gentiles was dwarfed by Jews-as-our-Israelite-cousins.

  5. I can only offer a personal anecdote with this but when I was young I read the books called “the great brain” series. They are set in a fictional town in rural Utah and are written from the perspective of non-mormon children growing up in a mormon community. The mormon children in the book refer to the non-mormon’s as gentiles. I had not heard this word before so I asked my dad “What does gentile mean?” and he answered that it meant someone who isn’t jewish. This really confused me. I said “Does that mean we are gentiles?” and my dad said “yes”. I was puzzled because this was completely different from the usage in the book. My great Aunt, who we were visiting at the time, and who lived in Salt Lake (I grew up in Idaho) said “it doesn’ always mean that, in Utah, it means someone who isn’t mormon”. That made more sense to me given the context of the book. So for the rest of the time I was growing up, whenver I heard someone say gentile, I thought it meant someone who wasn’t mormon. Especially because I didn’t even know anyone who was Jewish until I was in my 20s. Now it seems humorous to me. So that was the explanation I got in the late 1970s from an elderly Utah woman.

  6. Will Schryver says:

    Nah, neither us current hicks in rural Utah nor our even less-sophisticated forbears would have called a Jew a Gentile. Of course, as a descendant of a drunken rabbi from Cincinnati, I might have been a little more sensitive to the issue than others. There was always a definite distinction drawn between Jews and other non-Mormons. Except for among the anti-Semitic breed of Mormons (of which my impression is that there were very few), most of the old-timers I ever knew would have regarded the Jews as our “brothers” in a sense even more familial than us all being children of God. After all, we’re the ones with the patriarchal blessings informing us that we are literal descendants of Ephraim.

    On the other hand, my impression is that it was very common to call non-Jewish non-Mormons “Gentiles.”

  7. I’ve never heard a Mormon call a Jew a Gentile, but I have seen it a couple of times in outside press accounts, saying something to the extent that “only in Utah is a Jew a Gentile”.

    And I lived in the MCR for a long, long time. We did have a tendency to look down a bit at our less-sophisticated relatives from rural Utah, but then two of my wife’s sisters married some of them, so I repented. Might say I came to a fark in the road.:)

  8. 5) I *LOVED* those books. That was also my first exposure to non Mormons being called gentiles.

    2) Urban Utah. hehehe

  9. Wo, I did not mean that my wife’s sisters married their relatives. Let’s use the word neighbors.

  10. I grew up (partly) in Utah, and I don’t remember hearing “gentile” used to refer to non-Mormons. Like Bandanamom, my first contact with that usage was in the “Great Brain” books. Frankly, I just don’t think it’s a word that gets used much.

    I think it’s a persistent urban legend, ubiquitous because it’s fun for writers to find a way to say “Those Mormons in Utah sure are a weird bunch” in a superficially non-offensive way.

  11. I guess I will have to raise my hand and represent the rubes. My parents taught me that “gentiles” were people who were not members of the church. I didn’t even realize it had another meeting until junior high, when we started studying the holocaust. I didn’t grow up in Utah, and neither did my parents.

  12. Christopher says:

    I don’t have my copy at hand (and could be wrong), but I’d be willing to bet that Juanita Brooks’s _History of the Jews in Utah and Idaho, 1853-1950_ sheds some light on the subject.

  13. All I know is, my wife & her family find it *hysterical* when I refer to non-Mormons as “Gentiles.” I’ve always thought that the joke worked because it’s such an anachronistic term – I was under the impression that Mormons don’t actually talk like that, hence the humor in my over-the-top attempts to “speak the language.”

    Or maybe it’s funny because I’m actually parodying people they know – I never considered that.

  14. Sam–I assume you’ve looked at Charles Cohen’s tanner lecture?

  15. I once worked for a woman who was a Jew from Brooklyn. She loved that during the time she worked in SLC (late 1980’s) that people considered her a Gentile. She brought it up often and cracked up every time.

    To this day she claims the best bagels she ever had that weren’t from the five boroughs came from somewhere in SLC. I don’t remember which shop it was… wish I could.

  16. Will Schryver says:

    I loved The Great Brain books!

    I had completely forgotten about them until right now. I’m going to suggest them to my 9-year-old daughter, assuming they can even be found in the Cedar City library.

    One thing we need to remember is that the term and its coinage is actually canonized, as it were.

    D&C 57

    3 … Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.

    4 Wherefore, it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints, and also every tract lying westward, even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile;

    In addition to the many other appearances of the term “Gentile” in the D&C, this particular instance clearly implies that the Saints are neither “Jew” nor “Gentile.”

    Now, I actually grew up in Farmington, UT (back before it was Elitistville, that is). It was not uncommon to have the term “Gentile” used to describe non-LDS. I can distinctly remember it being used in that fashion. I continue to use it in that fashion. Indeed, I thought it was the most accurate term to describe those who are not members of the Church — except, of course, for Jews, who (as mentioned previously) are a different category altogether. I always viewed the Jews much the way Joseph must have viewed his brothers between the time they arrived in Egypt and when Joseph finally revealed himself. We know who the Jews are — our brothers, but they don’t realize who we are. But our self-identification as the children of Israel — and specifically as the literal descendants of Ephraim — is something that has always been clear in my mind. It was certainly clear in the minds of the early Saints. A simple perusal of our hymn book demonstrates that:

    Come, All Ye Saints of Zion
    (W. W. Phelps – included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835)

    Come, all ye Saints of Zion, and let us praise the Lord;
    His ransomed are returning, according to his word.
    In sacred song and gladness, they walk the narrow way,
    And thank the Lord who brought them to see the latter day.

    Come, ye dispersed of Judah, join in the theme and sing
    With harmony unceasing, the praises of our King
    Whose arm is now extended, on which the world may gaze
    To gather up the righteous in these the latter days

    Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel, and let your joys abound
    The voice of God shall reach you wherever you are found
    And call you back from bondage, that you may sing his praise
    In Zion and Jerusalem in these the latter days

    Or this verse from Hail to the Brightness of Zion’s Glad Morning:

    Hail to the brightness of Zion’s glad morning!
    Long by the prophets of Israel foretold
    Hail to the millions from bondage returning
    Gentiles and Jews the glad vision behold.

    Alexander Neibaur, an early Jewish convert, penned the text of

    Come, Thou Glorious Day of Promise

    , which also touches upon this same theme.

    Another W. W. Phelps composition from the 1835 hymnbook:

    Now We’ll Sing with One Accord

    And the Book of Mormon true, with its cov’nant ever new,
    For the Gentile and the Jew, He translated sacredly
    God’s commands to mankind, for believing Saints designed,
    And to bless the seeking mind, Came to him from Jesus Christ.

    And, of course, the famous Parley P. Pratt composition, The Morning Breaks:

    The Gentile fulness now comes in, and Israel’s blessings are at hand.
    Lo, Judah’s remnant, cleansed from sin, shall in their promised Canaan stand.

    Jehovah speaks! Let earth give ear, and Gentile nations turn and live.
    His mighty arm is making bare, His cov’nant people to receive.

    I’m sure there are many more, if I were to do a serious search. (… we’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell …) But the point is that this concept of the Saints as Israel, Judah as our wayward brothers, and the Gentile nations from whom Israel is being extracted (gathered) previous to the millenium — it weaves its way through almost all the hymns and discourses of the first half century of Mormonism. It still lingers, but not with near as much prominence as it commanded in the first fifty years. Brigham Young’s discourses are seeped with it. After his death, and for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint, this prominent self-identification as “Israel” began to diminish. I don’t get the impression that the “rising generation,” for the most part, even “gets it” at all. I think that is regrettable.

    There is a unique relationship between Latter-day Saint and Jew in my mind. We are brethren separated at birth, as it were, waiting for the time to come when we will be reunited; for that great family reunion that will be a byproduct of the second coming: the children of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh combined), the children of Judah, and the children of the lost tribes, who will finally be identified, and receive their blessing (the Priesthood) under the hands of the descendants of Ephraim. It’s all there in Zenos’ parable of the olive trees, but I don’t think many of us relate to it anymore.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Usage of “gentile” to mean non-Mormon seems to have pretty much died, except in newspaper stories that anachronistically cite it as current practice for a yuck. But it certainly was a common usage at one time. My impression is that it was only just starting to die out when I was young; my guess would be that mid-twenthieth century and before you would find lots of such usage.

    To some extent the journalists that make fun of this are doing so syllogistically; i.e. Mormons use(d) the word “gentile” to mean non-Mormons, Jews aren’t Mormons, therefore to Mormons Jews are gentiles.

    I don’t know whether there has been an historical study of this linguistic phenomenon. It might be worth taking a look at Steve Epperson’s Mormons and Jews, which is up for free on the Signature website, to see whether he addresses this terminology and its development.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Here is the link to Epperson’s book if anyone wants to look for info on this subject there.

  19. Jewish merchants such as Samuel and Frederick Auerbach were none too pleased about Brigham Young’s boycott of Gentile businesses.

  20. Ardis Parshall says:

    Brigham Young very often used “Hebrew” where we would use “Jew” or “Jewish.” I haven’t noticed him (or Heber C. Kimball, or Daniel H. Wells, or others of that generation) using “Gentile” to refer to Jews.

  21. I grew up in rural, central Utah, and I heard “Gentile” all the time as meaning “non-Mormon” – but it never (absolutely never) meant Jew. There were Mormons, Jews and Gentiles.

  22. Oh, and it really wasn’t used for non-Christians, ironically. They were Buddhists, Muslims, etc.

  23. I think I’ve run across at least one Mormon British Israelist (James Anderson) making the argument that the 19th century Brits were true Israelites, more so than the Jews. I can’t remember if he extended that to calling Jews Gentiles. The reason I say “I think” is that in Anderson’s book “God’s Covenant Race,” and in the Utah Genealogical Quarterly of the 20s and 30s, quite a few non-Mormon articles preaching British Israelism were foisted on the Mormon audience, so I’m not sure if I read it coming from Anderson, or from a non-Mormon (Gentile!) source. The likely place for Anderson to opine along these lines is in one of his 1930s books “The present time and prophecy,” or “God’s covenant race.” However, my written notes don’t include any mention of this particular item, so I can’t verify this. There were definitely non-Mormon B-Israelists making this argument.

  24. Thanks to all for their input.
    The reference to rural Utah was meant to invoke the notion of unadulterated Mormonism, the section of the MCR less susceptible to the influence of outsiders. I actually like rural Utah.

    Justin comes through again with a fascinating and useful reference, although this appears to be a rare exception to a general rule of differentiating Jew from Gentile. Much thanks.

  25. Will (16)–the Great Brain books are (happily!) still in print. My 10-year-old read them last summer and loved them…If you don’t find them in the library, I’ll send you our copies!

  26. LDS Anarchist says:

    Uh, Gentile is already defined in the dictionary as a non-Mormon, which of course, includes Jews:

    Main Entry: 1gen·tile Listen to the pronunciation of 1gentile
    Pronunciation: \?jen-?t?(-?)l\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin gentilis, from Latin gent-, gens nation
    Date: 14th century

    1 often capitalized : a person of a non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith; especially : a Christian as distinguished from a Jew
    2: heathen, pagan
    3 often capitalized : a non-Mormon

    So, your question:

    Does anyone know a living Mormon that calls Jews Gentiles?

    is answered by the dictionary. Apparently plenty of people do know living Mormons that call Jews Gentiles, as the dictionary compilers use authentic, actual quotations of educated speech and writing to make their definitions.

  27. No good, #26 – dictionary.com adds something that makes it all-encompassing. Accordingly, all people are Gentiles:

    noun
    1. a person who does not acknowledge your god [syn: heathen]
    2. a person who is not a member of one’s own religion; used in this sense by Mormons and Hindus
    3. a Christian as contrasted with a Jew
    4. a Christian; “Christians refer to themselves as gentiles”

    WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

  28. LDS Anarchist says:

    I used Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary (www.m-w.com). Both the dictionary you cite and the dictionary I cite contain the shade of meaning about which Sam MB is expressing incredulity: that Jews are called Gentiles by Mormons. Merriam Webster says: 3 often capitalized : a non-Mormon and dictionary.com says: 2. a person who is not a member of one’s own religion; used in this sense by Mormons and Hindus. This shade of meaning is educated speech. Your citation even goes so far as to say that the shade of meaning is used by Mormons, so, although I don’t know about dictionary.com’s editorial standards, definitions from good dictionaries come from actual citations. If actual Mormons didn’t use the shade of meaning, I doubt that dictionary.com would state this so categorically. Language isn’t static, so who cares about the addition of shades of meaning to a term as time goes on? It is not a gaffe to use the term Gentile when referring to a non-Mormon Jew, as Sam MB intimates, but educated speech.

  29. LDS Anarchist says:

    I might also add that I have heard the term used in this way many times by many people. In fact, I have used this sense of the word myself, as well as the other shades of meaning. But, then, I’m not from Utah. Maybe Utah Mormons’ belief of it being a gaffe has intimidated Utah Mormons so much that they refuse to use it.

  30. LDSA,

    Certainly the general sense of ‘gentile’ as non-Mormon has been used many times. But no remotely educated Mormon would use the term specifically to apply to a Jewish person. Anyone who has read the the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants would know that is ridiculous.

    If the dictionary were sufficiently comprehensive, it would document the fact that the original Mormon sense of the term Gentile is parallel to the biblical sense – namely someone considered outside the bounds of the house of Israel.

  31. My observation accords with Will’s and others’ above, contra LDSA, that “Gentile” is and has been commonly used in highly concentrated Mormon areas, or in areas of old Mormon presence, to refer to non-Mormons generally, except for Jews. In areas with really long Mormon presence which includes rural Utah but also the East Bench of SLC, the tendency was often to lump in Mormon and Jews together as “Israel” with everyone else as a Gentile. In other areas, there seems to be a distinct recognize of three categories, Mormons, Jews, and Gentiles (everyone else, or at least all creedal Christians).

    To those who find it offensive for Mormons to be calling creedal Christians “Gentiles”, I think that the dictionary entry cited above makes an important point in noting that creedal Christians refer to themselves as Gentiles, or at least often did so historically, based on the understanding that the Gospel was first preached to the Jews (and the traditional creedal Christian belief that the Jews in general — i.e. those who did not convert, unlike the crowd at Pentacost — rejected the Gospel), and then was taken to the Gentiles, i.e. Europe, in Paul’s missions to Turkey, Greece, Rome, and, some content, Spain, as well as the heavy evangelization done by the immediate followers of the Apostles and then later under the politician-bishops of the post-Apostolic, pre-Nicean age, and of course thereafter.

  32. I might add that you will also find the interesting occurence of many Latter-day Saints entirely comfortable with speaking of themselves as both Gentiles and not Gentiles, i.e., in referring to all non-Mormons (except Jews) as Gentiles as a general matter, but then during actual Sunday School lessons pertaining to the New Testament or other doctrinal issues using the term just like creedal Christians, i.e. in reference to ourselves as the Gentiles to whom the Gospel was brought after the initial phase of preaching the Gospel to Jerusalem’s Jews.

  33. Last Lemming says:

    In other areas, there seems to be a distinct recognize of three categories, Mormons, Jews, and Gentiles (everyone else, or at least all creedal Christians).

    Actually, as Sam points out in the original post, there are four–the fourth being native Americans, formerly known as Lamanites. Interestingly, in a binary world populated only by Jews and Gentiles, native Americans apparently fall into the Jewish category as evidenced by D&C 57:4, cited in #16 above.

    My impression is that the whole Jews-as-Gentiles thing got started during the Bamberger campaign. My earlier post (#3) was intended to demonstrate that even unsophisticated Mormons at the time did not really consider Jews to be Gentiles.

  34. I’ve noticed that Jan Shipps’ Sojourner in the Promised Land makes the assertion (i.e., Jews are Gentiles in Utah) (e.g., pp. 2, 25).

    Terryl Givens also mentions it: “To insist that Mormons are Christians, but in a sense peculiar to them, is to appropriate the term to their private meaning and to impudently assert that heresy is orthodoxy, and orthodoxy heresy. Such a move is not difficult for a religion that has long persisted in referring to the Jews as Gentiles” (Terryl Givens, “‘This Great Modern Abomination': Orthodoxy and Heresy in American Religion,” in Eric A. Eliason, ed., Mormons and Mormonism: An Introduction to a World Religion, 105, 119 n.24).

    Givens’ footnote quotes a passage in Elder McConkie’s Mortal Messiah. In a discussion of the “Jerusalem of the Future,” Elder McConkie writes: “‘Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles,’ Jesus said, ‘until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.’ (Luke 21:24.)…And so for two millenniums the Gentiles have held sway in Jehovah’s Jerusalem….Christians, Mohammedans, and Jews now dwell together under a tenuous and oft-interrupted peace, and the Holy City continues to be trodden down of the Gentiles. And, be it noted, even Jews are Gentiles when they believe not the truth” (Mortal Messiah 1:93).

    Givens also quotes from Daniel Ludlow’s definition of “Gentile” in A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants (v. 2, p. 115):

    The basic meaning of the word gentile is a stranger or foreigner. To a member of a particular group, a gentile is any person who does not belong to that group. To a Hebrew (a descendant of Abraham), a gentile is a person who is not a Hebrew. To an Israelite (a descendant of Jacob or Israel), a gentile is a person who is not an Israelite. To a Jew (a descendant of Judah; a citizen of the Kingdom of Judah or a descendant of such a citizen), a gentile is a non-Jew.

    Thus, it is consistent that a Latter-day Saint should refer to those who are not Latter-day Saints as gentiles. However, this usage is very difficult for many nonmembers to understand inasmuch as the word gentile as used by Latter-day Saints could includes people who are Jews, Israelites, and Hebrews.

    Seth Ward’s essay in Covenant and Chosenness in Judaism and Mormonism makes reference to the study of Jewish-Mormon relations in Utah by Rudolph Glanz (“Glanz carefully avoids saying ‘Jews were Gentiles,’ and devotes a chapter to contrasting Mormon attitudes toward gentiles and Jews…”) and to Seymour Cain’s review of Stephen Epperson’s book (“Cain’s review…presents a brief but good overview of the central tension in Mormon attitudes toward Judaism: Jews are Gentiles but also Israelites”) (pp. 197, 199).

    I haven’t seen this book, but there may be some references therein:

    Utah Jews Remember

  35. Justin, thanks for that. I knew I’d heard this in a few sacrament talks in my Salt Lake ward, with references and everything. The Mortal Messiah reference is the one I remember.

  36. I also came across an article published in the January 1991 Ensign by Daniel Ludlow.

    The article’s definition of the word “Gentile” is similar to that given in Ludlow’s D&C book:

    The basic meaning of the word Gentile is “foreign,” “other,” or “non.” Thus, to a Hebrew, a Gentile is a non-Hebrew; to an Israelite, a Gentile is a non-Israelite; and to a Jew, a Gentile is a non-Jew. In this sense, some Latter-day Saints have referred to those who are not members of the Church as Gentiles, even though the nonmembers might be Jews!

    The word Gentile might also be used in several different ways to refer to family, religious, political, or even geographical relationships. For example, a person might be considered an Israelite in a family or blood sense, but might be called a Gentile in a political or geographical sense because he lives in a land or nation that is primarily Gentile, or non-Israelitish.

    The glossary in the Gospel Principles book contains this definition: “Gentile: A person who does not belong to the chosen people. The scriptures use the word to mean (1) non-Israelites, and (2) nonmembers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

  37. The problem with BRM’s unusual definition is that it makes virtually every scripture on the topic essentially meaningless.

  38. Justin to the rescue, yet again. The BRM quote seems to be a reasonably clear indication that this claim, however strange to many of us now, is not journalistic malfeasance. While I remain confident that this usage was not a part of early Mormonism, I accept that in the twentieth century, at least transiently, such a usage was normative for at least some part of the Utah church.

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