Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 10: Ten Virgins. The Mechanics of Plurality (and Sex on Earth, and in Heaven). And Another Addendum: Excommunication.

This is part 10 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9. The part following this entry is here.

Much of the July 12 revelation is simplistically divisible into two kinds of speech: 1) Joseph is in the right. 2) Emma is in the wrong. The last section of the revelation falls into both categories. Along with this, we also get some talk of “virgins.” Earlier text in the revelation treats issues of sexual transgression (see part 8 for example).
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 9: Emma’s Dilemma.

This is part 9 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8. The next part in the series is here (part 10).

The next portion of the revelation is explicitly directed to Emma Smith. It commands Emma to join in and receive the doctrine of polygamy, a terrible test for her. Verse 51 has been a puzzling statement since 1843 and there is no definitive information about its meaning.
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 8: The Origin and Power of Polygamy. With an Adulterous Addendum!

This is part 8 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7. For the follow on post, part 9, go here.

In Nauvoo, two notions of “kingdom expansion” in the hereafter developed in logical tension. They had textual roots from the New York and Kirtland periods.

(1) Kingdom expansion for a person in the hereafter was based on having many earthly progeny. In this way, after death and the exaltation of those children, their own godlike activities of world peopling and priesthood connection made one a greater “king and priest.”

Orson, you're always a good foil.  I appreciated it. That chair pose is not the most flattering thing you've done, though.

The spirit of man is uncreate.


(2) More wives in mortality meant faster growth of progeny in the hereafter somehow, though precisely how or what that meant was not really fleshed out until after Joseph’s death (by Orson Pratt, W. W. Phelps, Eliza R. Snow, Brigham Young and others)—in short, it entailed pregnancy and birth of, not physical bodies, but “spirit” bodies—Pratt saw heavenly gestation as comparable to mortal, hence the advantage of multiple wives.[1]
Well, Go to Hell, Orson.  You'll never be an Adam. And by the way, no on your good but inflammatory idea. /raspberry/

Spirits are always being sired in the eternal world by heavenly couples.


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Preaching, Tradition, History

General Conference season is behind us once again. Preaching is one of the main features of conference and there is a wide variety of it there. I’ve mostly been interested in antebellum sermons, partly because of their richness in terms of redaction criticism, a characteristic shared by ancient documents. Historically, scripture became scripture by repetition. People repeating what they heard, adding explanation, interleaving bits, expansion, contraction, often assigning sources as seemed appropriate. Below is a very short example from a sermon report (a Joseph Smith sermon delivered in June, 1844 less than two weeks prior to his death) that displays some of this process. Keep in mind, redactors often have a point to make.
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 7: Errors, Unconditional Sealing, and Breaking the Bonds.

This is part 7 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.
The following part, part 8, is here.
Angels

The sealing of marriages, and eventually, the notion of priesthood adoption (as a kind of extension of New Testament Pauline adoption) appears as the pinnacle of Mormon liturgy in the July 12 revelation.[1] Like much of the revelation text, the relevant passages are laced with warnings about postponement or failure. This life is the time for sealings:
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 6: Keys and the Refinement of Things.

This is part 6 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are here, here, here, here and here respectively. The next part is here.

Portions of the next verses are perhaps among the more quoted of the revelation of July 12, 1843:

6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

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Contention is of the Devil!

Conference is on the way, people. It’s been, give or take, a hundred and fifty years since the conference pulpit has seen a little disagreement. But you never know!

The balance between the rational and the intuitive (in Mormonism we might say, reason vs. revelation, or the “mantle” vs. the “intellect”) — it’s not a new discussion. Roughly 300 years ago New England pulpits rang with polemics, preacher against preacher, over things like itinerancy, extemporaneous sermons, lay testimony and emotional conversion experiences. Each might be seen as either the work of the Devil or the work of God. Clerical conferences, used to a few quiet conversations over theological points, were torn asunder by bitter conflicts between extremes. The enlightened vs. the pious.
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 5: Ancient Roots and a Death Penalty?

This is part 5 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 are here, here, here and here respectively. Part 6 is here.

Section 132 opens with a prologue explaining its origin, much as section 76, does. Since section 132 has had little variation over its published or manuscript life, I will use the text of the 2013 edition here.[1]
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 4: Setting the Textual Stage

This is part 4 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. Parts 1, 2 and 3 are here, here and here respectively. Part 5 is here.

Currently, Doctrine and Covenants section 132 has the following introduction/summary:

Section 132
Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage. Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831. See Official Declaration 1.

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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 3: The Public Revelation.

This is part 3 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. Parts 1 and 2 are here and here. Part 4, the post following this one, is here.

Street knowledge of the July 12 revelation existed in Nauvoo.[1] However, the first printing of the revelation was nearly a decade away from the delivery date. In the meantime, polygamy had a small core of practitioners. It appears that during the late spring of 1843, Emma wavered in her opposition to the practice and various stories exist about her selecting wives for Joseph (the Partridge sisters for example). In any case, Joseph and Emma were sealed six weeks prior to the writing of section 132.[2]
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 2: Manuscripts.

This is part 2 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. Part 1 is here. You can find part 3 here.

The Manuscripts

Part 1 of the series established that William Clayton wrote the revelation on plural marriage (D&C 132) on July 12, 1843 and that its content was probably, at least in length, essentially the same as the currently printed edition. Moreover, this original did not survive the disgust of Emma Smith, who apparently burned it (one story circulated that she used fire tongs to put it in the flames so that she could say she never touched it).
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 1: Introduction.

This begins a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. (Part 2 is here.)

Introduction

Perhaps the most controversial revelation in the current Doctrine and Covenants is section 132. It’s (mainly external) controversy stems from its deification ideas and its (more broadly controversial) explicit promotion of plural marriage, polygamy. The revelation seems referenced in Joseph Smith’s sermons near its delivery and its appearance in 1843 divided church leaders and members who saw or heard its contents.
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An Eclectic View of D&C 77: Part 3. Some Textual Variants.

This series constitutes a leisurely stroll through the halls of Doctrine and Covenants section 77. I don’t have any particular schedule in mind, future posts will appear as seemeth me good. Parts 1 and 2 of the series are here and here.

Text Evolution
One of the interesting textual mysteries about D&C 77 concerns the interpretation of the book of Revelation timeline. Some relevant passages:
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Your Sunday Brunch Special: Theology of Place

We talk of sacred space. Spaces become sacred to us for various reasons, like dedicatory prayer, or usage over time. Home is often writ large as sacred in Mormon narrative, but in our transient modern existence, we have no stable places of residence. The narrative is often morphed by sayings like “home is where the heart is,” an especially popular one with the advent of the restless wandering of the twentieth-century.
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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25: Priesthood: “The Power of Godliness”

[Notes, commentary, and questions for LDS Sunday School teachers using the ‘Doctrine & Covenants and Church History’ manual. Feel free to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the lesson in the comments.]

“Priesthood” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a primary boundary marker, perhaps the central boundary marker if one includes its origin stories, between Mormonism and antebellum American Protestantism. If there is one primary heresy qua Protestantism in Mormonism, it is the dispensing of grace via authoritatively performed sacraments. Most Latter-day Saints see this as the “Power of Godliness” and via Joseph Smith have an extensive protological sacramental soteriology. Their Protestant brothers and sisters were—and perhaps are yet in some cases—filled with the fear of prelate tyranny by such claims (shucks, being a BYU professor, I know some Mormons who feel the same–academic freedom anyone?!?). These claims also entailed communal living enterprises, breach of the sacrosanct canonical wall, a little bit (that a hundred years later had turned into a lot) of Methodist salvific pessimism and eventually the mysterious secret rites of temple Mormonism. Burrrrr, they said.
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An Eclectic View of D&C 77: Part 2.

This series constitutes a leisurely stroll through the halls of Doctrine and Covenants section 77. I don’t have any particular schedule in mind, future posts will appear as seemeth me good. Part 1 of the series is here.

A wonderful thing about the Joseph Smith Papers (JSP) is its permitted exploration of the First Presidency historical document collection. Recently rediscovered within that collection was a manuscript book of revelations, designated Revelation Book 1 in the JSP. This is a foundational text for several reasons.
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An Eclectic View of D&C 77: Part 1.

This series constitutes a leisurely stroll through the halls of Doctrine and Covenants section 77. I don’t have any particular schedule in mind, future posts will appear as seemeth me good.

One of my favorite sections of the Doctrine and Covenants is 77. It is a favorite because it is a fruitful field for the discussion of the meaning, methods, and interpretation of Joseph Smith’s revelations in particular and to some degree, revelation in general.
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Your Sunday Brunch Special: Star Trek

There is a new Star Trek movie. And, this is current (Gospel) events, people.

I realize many BCC readers don’t follow Star Trek. Consider this a drive by catchup on things. One of the devices Trek watchers are familiar with is the Transporter.

As you can see from the clip, the Transporter does something like shuffling molecules over a distance. But not just that. It essentially murders people, and reanimates them. (If you don’t want to think about Star Trek, consider the classic film, The Fly.) Recently, there have been rumblings about such a piece of technology. Whether or not it exists now, is irrelevant to my question however. Suppose there was a Transporter. What does a spirit do during transport? We advertise that spirits are material. Do they get disorganized and then reorganized in the Transporter?* I hope you understand the serious nature of these questions. And you’re welcome.**

———————
* Joseph vs. Brigham here, right?
** Brain and brain! What is brain?!?

King Follett and Clouds of Meaning

We’ve just experienced the Mormon preaching festival. That is, general conference! In addition to inspired teaching, it gives the outside world a chance to experience some of the variety of Mormon address. And besides, I’ve been toiling over chapter 7 of the book, rewriting, rethinking some, and redoing other. This represents mental suds rising to the top of my brain-glass.

Texts are always encased by interpretation. Generations come and go, and interpretation floods over texts, at least those that rise to surface (paradoxically), via unearthing by graduate students or rediscovery by the public, or just constant devotion, etc. Scripture is no exception, and everyone, not just Nephi, deploys a kind of rationalization with circumstance and inspiration to come up with a correlated understanding, whether that be official, communal, familial, or even “backlistial.” Among Mormons, Joseph Smith’s sermons are quite often seen as doctrinal in some sense, a sense I won’t attempt to make precise.
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Night, Death, Grave

It’s late. Everyone is asleep. I realize my life is in transition. Unable to sleep myself, I quietly get out of bed and cautiously leave the bedroom, hoping my wife will not be disturbed.
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Your Sunday Brunch Special: Doctrine and Covenants Section 137A.

You may be interested to know that D&C 137A has been on the books for some time. However, to see it requires that you hold up D&C 137 of your officially printed scriptures so that the light of the full moon shines behind the page. On September 22. Viking Runes will appear. Sorry, the digital version is missing this feature. I came across it by accident as you may imagine, while lying in my hammock on such an evening, enjoying one of those last mild evenings. Imagine too, my shock.

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Sunday Evenings With The Doctrine and Covenants. Section 130. Epilogue. Some Visuals.

[Part 6 is here.]

It has long been the case that text scholars tend to believe everyone keeps up with their nerdiness. Getting an overview of a text study is helpful and while it leaves out many of the details that lure the textually addicted, graphical summaries of the relationships between texts can be helpful in understanding how things work in the temporal and logical senses. So here are two such graphical summaries.
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130. Part 6. An Interview with Elder Orson Pratt And A Critical Text of D&C 130.

[The preceding part is here.]

This is the penultimate post in the series on Doctrine and Covenants section 130. Last time I gave you a genetic text for D&C 130. This time its a critical edition.

We’re nearly at the end of the line, people. The BCC survey results show that this sort of thing is the least popular item in our repertoire. But I really don’t care if you don’t like reading this stuff. It’s good for you. It broadens your religious horizons and it makes you wonder about your assumptions. Well, that’s what I’m selling at least.
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The Infinite. Part 11. Mormon Troubles with the Infinite.

Here is the previous part. Apologies to the huge cadre of readers who have been waiting on the edges of their collective seats for this for over a year. I just forgot to post it at the time–and then went off on other adventures. You’re welcome. To catch up with what’s here, I recommend subjecting yourself to the pain of following the link above (and similar links in it and its predecessors until you reach the “beginning”).For you, Brad.

One of the axioms of Mormonism is the existence of an infinite supply of matter. This follows from various statements like “this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) This process, which many Mormon thinkers have seen as not only the life of God but the life of every exalted person, implies that spirits will never run out. That is, there is either an infinite supply so that the process may continue, or there is an infinite supply of material from which spirits and their corresponding bodies may be “organized.” (Sorry, ex nihilo not allowed.)
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130 Part 5. Genesis, Exodus. . .

[Note: the text below has been modified from its original version. My thanks go to Mike Parker for a nice careful reading which exposed several errors in my original edition. Particularly in verses 16 and 17, where I failed to see that the material appeared in the Clayton report. Mike also noted a few more errors (a number are html coding errors on my part) which I have taken the liberty of correcting. I noticed a couple of other puzzling things about this material that I may expand on at some other time. Some of the changes here affect succeeding parts of the post too. Hence, part 6 is slightly modified.]

The headings for D&C sections were written anew in the recent 2013 edition of the LDS scriptures. The new scriptures are an encoded banner of trust for the Joseph Smith Papers. Go JSPP.
[Part 4 is here.]

Ok, here is D&C 130, coded to reveal where it came from, a genetic text if you will. Note: some passages are clearly quotations of modified biblical pericopae. That is not what I’m about here. I’m just displaying the modern manuscript sourcing for our current text of D&C 130.
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Your Sunday Brunch Special: “Conferring the Priesthood.” When Architecture Becomes Liturgy.

Priesthood is a complex subject in Mormonism. The very meaning of the word has ebbed and flowed. Below, I focus on ecclesiastical office in a narrow sense. I only consider church structures involving the practice of ordination, not “setting apart” in the modern vernacular.
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Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130. Part 4. Comparing Sources for the MS History.

You can see from parts one, two and three that the text of D&C 130 is founded on the Manuscript History of the Church via its instantiation in the Millennial Star. The Manuscript History is a work of epic proportions, almost entirely due to the planning and effort of Willard Richards, apostle, private secretary to Joseph Smith and church historian and recorder. Richards procured large ledger books in which to copy edited source documents for the history. Richards did not live to see his project completed, but the History more or less followed his source plan, a plan written out in Nauvoo before the apostles journeyed west to Utah. The various scribes for the history include some well known names in Mormon lore, like Thomas Bullock, Jonathan Grimshaw, Leo Hawkins, Robert Campbell and more.[1]
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Your Sunday Brunch Special: Bishop B And the Devil.

“So what happened next?”

“He came through the doorway and stared at me.”

“Then what?”

“He started to beat me with his fists. Then he grabbed at me. But it wasn’t like being grabbed by a man, I could see him grabbing my spirit. He had one hand around my neck and was pulling on it. It stretched out, I could see him pulling it out. Then it snapped back. That hurt my head and my feet.”

“Where was Sister B?”

“She was beside me in the bed at first. She could not see him, but she could see me struggling and later she told me she knew what it was. She got out of bed and knelt down and started praying.”

“Wow. How long did this go on?”

“It was about 30 minutes.”

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Youth Conference: 1963-ish.

Imagine you are 16 years old. You are LDS and the church is relatively small. Youth Conference is scheduled to happen at Colby College in Maine. It’s November. There are fun things in store, and you’ll meet other Mormons. The busses gather up the attendees from all over New England. After the get-to-know-you activities, etc. the key-note speaker stands.

He begins to speak and you start hearing names like Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Bonhoeffer, Bultmann, and in this mix somewhere, Joseph Smith.

Truman Madsen delivers the goods: “God: Personal or Impersonal.”

It was forthwith printed as a missionary pamphlet!

Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130. Part 3. Spiritual Mechanics.

In honor of the Doctrine and Covenants study this year, this is the third post a series on one of the sections that doesn’t get too much play in the Gospel Doctrine course this year.

Now, in the previous part of this post, I showed you where Brother Orson got the text for D&C 130. Why did he go there you ask?[1]

In this part of the post I’m going to explore the text in a slightly different way. The Millennial Star text (Pratt’s source for D&C 130) was derived from the Salt Lake City church newspaper, The Deseret News. The News text was derived from the Manuscript History of the Church, an 1855 era construction (see part 1). The logical thing to do now is ask, where did the Manuscript History text come from? I mean this particular part. The thing as a whole is a maze of compiled texts from a whole lot of sources.
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