Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith

The following post is the contribution of Tom, one of our regular commenters.

I am pleased to report that next year’s Relief Society/Priesthood manual has been released: Joseph Smith. This is a good book; I would argue that for those who may have found faults with previous manuals will find, upon a quick glance, much to be pleased with. In my own opinion, this is the best manual to be released by correlation.

The book is thick. It will be used for the next two years; it contains 47 chapters and an appendix.

The best thing about the book is its transparency (if I’m not using the correct terms, I apologize; I must admit I’m a computer scientist, not a historian). The book uses original sources for many of its quotations. It’s nice to read footnotes that say things like “Quoted by William Clayton, reporting an undated discourse given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois; in L. John Nuttall, ‘Extracts from William Clayton’s Private Book,’ p. 7, Journals of L. John Nuttall, 1857-1904, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; copy in Church archives.” and “William Smith, interview by E. C. Briggs and J. W. Peterson, Oct. or Nov. 1893, originally published in Zion’s Ensign (periodical published by the Reoganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called Community of Christ); reprinted in Deseret Evening News, Jan. 20, 1894, p. 2; punctuation modernized.” (footnotes to Chapter 2)

I have searched in vain for a reference to books such as Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, or Sayings of Joseph Smith. They go to the original sources for many of the sources.

Probably over half of the quotations are taken from the [Documentative] History of the Church. However, before anyone starts talking about the potential problems in relying on Joseph’s words as written in the HotC, there is a six-page appendix that discusses the sources used, with four of those pages being about the history of the HotC in particular. It discusses that the compilers made changes to the original documents, including “combining accounts… changing accounts from third person to first person… adding or changing words or phrases” (p. 561-562). It discusses that the Prophet kept his journals through scribes. It describes that “while some lengthy reports of his addresses exist, most are summarizations of the messages delivered by the Prophet. Unfortunately, there is no record for many of the discourses given by Joseph Smith” (p. 558).

The introductory material is much the same as with previous presidents of the Church, but includes a brief explanation of why certain topics were chosen to be discusses (because they are applicable to our modern society). It also discusses that some topics will not be discussed and mentions the United Order and plural marriage as two such topics. To me, the fact that the manual even mentions these topics, and says that several marriages “were performed” (implying to Joseph, I’d assume), is amazing. This is a fantastic manual, considering where it comes from.

The manual is available at Church Distribution Centers. It is $3.00 (I work at Distribution, so I bought it five minutes after we received it from the truck).


  1. I wonder if the Joseph Smith Papers folks were involved in this. Evidently, they will be announcing the publisher for the series in the fall…and I would infer that the first volumes would come out in early 2008. Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. Steve Evans says:

    A gutsy, bold, and welcome move. Three cheers for Correlation!

  3. It sounds good. I’m looking forward to taking a look at it. If they omit the political kingdom of God, marriage theology, and economic theology, then the manual leaves out a lot of what Joseph Smith thought his ministry was about, though.

  4. I don’t know why, but I feel the need to point out that the regular commenter Tom who wrote this is not the regular commenter Tom who is a slacker blogger at Nine Moons and Kulturblog.

    Geez, you’d think with a unique handle like “Tom” I’d be safe.
    I have been wondering if/when we’d study from a Joseph Smith manual. I’m excited about this.

  5. Can someone clue me in on what, exactly, this will be used for? It’s not a straight-up biography, right? Is it a study guide, of sorts? I’m curious as to the point of a 47 chapter book about the Prophet that makes no mention of plural marriage. (Not that there’s nothing to discuss otherwise, or that there’s no value in such a tome, I’m just curious as to who’s going to be reading this and why. I need to figure out whether to mention it to my father-in-law, thereby ensuring that I end up with a copy!)

  6. Banky, in the last decade or so we have been using Teachings of Presidents of the Church manuals for Priesthood and Relief Society meeting lessons. This is simply the next in the series.

  7. Banky, it sounds like this is the Priesthood/RS manual for Priesthood/RS lessons for the next two years. You know, those manuals we use every week in Priesthood/RS lessons that everyone (males at least) forgets to bring to class?

  8. and… As far as I know, plural marriage isn’t a principle that I’ve been asked to live, so a drive-by in the introduction makes complete sense to me…

  9. Banky, sometimes we forget how much our language can be foreign to others. I’m sure at least one other person will answer your question, but . . .

    The Relief Society and Priesthood lesson manual is used in those classes to study the teachings of individual prophets. It is not a weekly manual, since other things are used, as well. Hence, 47 chapters taking two years to cover. The intent is not to learn everything the prophet taught, but rather to learn what they said about topics that are most relevant to our lives today. Hence, no discussion of polygamy in the manual – or the United Order – or any number of other interesting topics, I presume.

  10. Hooray!

    Thanks for letting us know.

  11. D’oh – I’m a fool, I should have noticed the *title of the post*. I have, and have read portions of, Teachings of the Prophet Brigham Young. And in that context, it makes total sense. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Brigham Young book gets into the Adam/God theory! (That book, of course, came from my father-in-law – I should have no trouble scoring a copy of this one to accompany it!)

  12. California Condor says:

    This is interesting. Thanks for the scoop. I might raise my hand in elder’s quorum next week and mention this just to sound cool.

    One of the big complaints amongst more liberal-minded Mormons about the Brigham Young manual was that it made it seem as if he was not a polyginist. Does the new Joseph Smith manual give the same impression?

  13. Sorry, Banky, but I had to laugh at the thought of a manual discussing Adam/God. I think it’s safe to say that the Church won’t be publicizing that particular theory in ANY new manual – probably not ever.

  14. Ray, the status of Adam-God is a perpetual mystery. The most recent church statements I’ve heard about it no longer condemn it, but instead claim that we don’t know what it means. So, well, who knows what the future holds on this score?

  15. California Condor, as Joseph Smith never taught anything publicly on the matter there is no need for the editorial procedures that some questioned in the BY edition.

  16. CC: That question was answered in the original post.

  17. California Condor says:

    J. Stapley,

    But these manuals have more than just quotes from the prophet being studied… and D & C 132 is public enough.

    Plus, weren’t people essentially complaining about the biographical summary about Brigham Young?

  18. California Condor says:

    Thanks, Ray. I missed that when I quickly skimmed it.

  19. Eric Russell says:

    There’s more than one Tom??? That just blew my mind.

    Ray, just you wait about A/G. I it’s always possible that it’s temporarily just in hiding because it would be bad for PR.

  20. I have read a few media interviews from the past few years where President Hinckley made unsolicited comments about Brigham Young’s Adam-God teachings. Here’s one example recorded by a somewhat snarky reporter during the 2002 Olympics:

    In the Mormon scheme, every person is a potential divinity. The adage “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” expresses the Mormon belief that God was once a human being, with a wife and children. But Hinckley did not seem interested in discussing matters of theology. When I asked him to characterize God’s connubial relationship, he replied, “We don’t speculate on that a lot. Brigham Young said if you went to Heaven and saw God it would be Adam and Eve. I don’t know what he meant by that.” Pointing to a grim-faced portrait of the Lion of the Lord, as Young was called, he said, “There he is, right there. I’m not going to worry about what he said about those things.”

    Lawrence Wright, “Lives of the Saints,” New Yorker, January 21, 2002, pg. 40.

    This is quite a departure from earlier statements by Kimball, Peterson, and McConkie denying that Brigham Young ever taught Adam-God.

  21. Sorry, everyone, for creating this threadjack. I still don’t think it will be in any manual, but . . . Back to our regularly scheduled program – Joseph Smith.

  22. Nick Literski says:

    #11 Banky:
    I wish I had my old copy of the Brigham Young volume handy, so I could give you a page number, but in the year the LDS church used it, I was amused to find a quotation that in its original form was, in fact, an Adam-God statement. The editors conveniently removed words from the statement, without elipses to indicate the alteration, to avoid the original meaning.

  23. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Yes, there are two Toms, but I’m mostly a lurker.

    In regards to the question of how much is plural marriage discussed I have only been able to find it mentioned in the manual twice. I hope the following quotations are short enough to be considered “fair use”.

    From the introductory materials: “This book deals with teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith that have application to our day. For example, this book does not discuss such topics as the Prophet’s teachings regarding the law of consecration as applied to the stewardship of property. The Lord withdrew this law from the Church because the Saints were not prepared to live it (see D&C 199, section heading). This book also does not discuss plural marriage. The doctrines and principles relating to plural marriage were revealed to Joseph Smith as early as 1831. The Prophet taught the doctrine of plural marriage, and a number of such marriages were performed during his lifetime. Over the next several decades, under the direction of the Church Presidents who succeeded Joseph Smith, a significant number of Church members entered into plural marriages. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto, which discontinued plural marriage in the Church (see Official Declaration 1). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no longer practices plural marriage” (p. xii).

    From “The Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith” (the 25-page overview of Joseph’s life): “In 1841 the first sealings of couples were performed, and in 8143 the Prophet dictated the revelation that describes the eternal nature of the marriage covenant (see D&C 132). The doctrines in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831 (footnote:see D&C 132, section heading). As commanded by God, he also taught the doctrines of plural marriage” (p. 22).

  24. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Um, it actually says “D&C 119”, not 199. Sorry.

  25. David Grua says:

    J. Stapley (#1) – From what I understand, correlation used the Joseph Smith Papers files for this manual. I haven’t heard one way or another if a project member actually helped though.

  26. David Grua says:

    That really is great that plural marriage is so openly discussed, even if it doesn’t make it into the main text. The BY manual has been used (by me as well as others) as evidence that the institutional church is actively marginalizing polygamy’s place in the church’s past. This shows the new openness in the history department is spreading to correlation.

  27. Well, the polygamy text here is really not terribly different in kind from the rudimentary statements on polygamy in the Wilford Woodruff manual from last year.

  28. Eric (#19),
    There are two Toms, but I’m T.O.T.A.L. Tom.

    I’m the only person who regularly posts as “Tom” around the MoArch LDS blogs, though. Anytime a “Tom” comes along and dares post as “Tom” I know it’s time to reassert my dominance. I wouldn’t want the “Tom” brand to get diluted. It carries considerable clout ’round these parts, due mostly to all my insightful anti-feminist heckling and American Idol jibber jabber.

  29. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    [NoCoolName_Tom humbly begs permission for the use of the name “Tom” in his moniker…]

  30. I apologize for creating the Adam/God derail. It was unintentional – a Gentile attempt at LDS humor, if you will. I am, however, extremely interested in the larger question of what message this kind of editing sends to the LDS faithful, and also what it says to non-members (I’m thinking about the Joseph Smith volume now, not Brother Brigham’s). Of course, the idea that polygamy and the Law of Consecration are not strictly applicable to those members who will be studying this book is absolutely plausible. But at the same time, it plays directly into the non-member impression of the Church as generally disinclined to address the more difficult questions raised by the teachings and actions of past Prophets. Whatever the intention, won’t this book be seen by members as the “official” Church bio of Joseph? (Perhaps not – I’m only guessing. That guess is based, in part, on the fact that my father-in-law sent along the BY Teachings after I had asked a couple of questions about him. Of course, I knew right off the bat that a Church publication was not going to give me “the whole story,” nor would I expect it to!) Anyway, I’m just offering up some random thoughts from an outsider here…please don’t think that I’m trying to stir up trouble!

  31. David Grua says:

    JNS – Good call.

  32. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Re #30:

    I’d certainly hope that the book is never seen as an official biography (Rough Stone Rolling would fill that position in my personal fantasy world). While there is some biographical information at the beginning of the book, it is a very brief and rushed summary of Joseph’s life and is not very detailed; there are some historical pieces at the beginning of each chapter, but only enough to illustrate the main idea that will be discuss in the chapter.

    The book is, on the whole, the result of deciding what topics each chapter/lesson should cover and then assembling as many direct Joseph Smith quotes—or personal recollections of those close to Joseph—to make the chapter feel like a flowing piece about the topic.

  33. 2 years ago I talked with a member of the correlation committee who is also a historian. He told me that the Church had originally planned to use the JS manual in 2005 to coincide with Joseph Smith’s 200th birthday. They held off though because this guy and several other historians suggested that it was too difficult to trace provenance on many of the things that Joseph taught. My guess is that is why they included a lengthy explanation of the problems with the DHC and other matters. I think it is a good sign and I’m glad they pressed forward with it.

  34. Banky, these manuals aren’t biographies or even complete records of what the prophets taught. They’re simply theme-based weekly lessons on various generic topics such as faith or neighborly love, illustrated by quotes from the prophet. Nothing more than that, really, so I don’t think the concerns you’re raising apply.

  35. Left Field says:

    Nick, I would be interested in that reference. A couple years ago, I had a discussion with someone on a different forum who claimed that references to polygamy had been omitted without proper annotation. I checked every quotation in which a reference to polygamy had been skipped, and compared it with the original source. In every case, there was an ellipsis or square brackets as required by standard editorial practice.

    The BY manual is available at lds.org. If you can remember the wording, you should be able to do a search.

  36. Amen Steve Evans #34.
    Those with an eye for history sometimes dismiss these great manuals because they fail to understand their purpose. These are not biographies, histories or contextual or critical examinations. They are meant to be uplifting and get to the core of messages relevant for our day. The Brigham Young manual was the thickest one up until now and addressed such issues as non-members being involved in civil government during the millenium (hardly watering down anything!). Also, many of the manuals have come right out in the intro and stated that the timeline did not include the prophet’s “marriages”.

    For those who think the Church is trying to forget its plural marriage past, think again. See http://www.lds.org and click on Gospel Library/Gospel Topics/Polygamy. No one is trying to “hide” anything; rather the Church seeks to focus on the pertinent and uplifting in its general classes.

  37. Thanks, Douglas. That information certainly is straightforward – and even mentions that the practice continued to exist and ceased gradually after the Manifesto.

  38. Eric Russell says:

    David Grua, do I know you? BYU 8th ward years ago? Good to see you on the blogs.

    Toms, that makes sense now. I had forgotten about “NoCoolName_Tom”

    Given that most of what we call doctrine comes from Joseph himself, I wonder if this volume will carry more doctrinal weight than the previous ones. Will we be more likely to actually read this one beforehand? To quote it in talks? To actually refer to the text in EQ lessons rather than mentioning the topic and getting into a group discussion about it?

  39. David Grua says:

    Ditto on the thanks, Douglas. Although the language is still carefully chosen, that statement is more than I think most people would expect on LDS.org.

  40. When the Spencer W. Kimball manual came out we had a discussion of the purposes of the Teachings . . . and why they might exclude certain things. It’s here:


  41. I’ve been wondering when they would finally get around to Joseph Smith. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. I’m still waiting to see what they do with George Albert Smith.

    Since editing of the BY manual came up, I did a post a while ago about a science quote that was altered from Widtsoe’s Discourses of Brigham Young, that was altered from the Journal of Discourses.

  42. Tom: what you mean by “we,” 9M boy?

  43. Thanks for the continued tolerance of my ignorance in these matters. Douglas, I don’t know if your comment was aimed at me, but rest assured I’m not accusing the Church of “hiding” anything, or trying to forget the past. It is my hope, however, to try and provide a bit of an insight into how the Church is or might be perceived by non-members. (For those who missed my previous posts, I’m a non-religious non-member who married into an LDS family. If you surveyed my friends, virtually all of them would say that my wife is the only Mormon they know. And because I’m *not* a member, I often find that people aren’t afraid to ask me questions about the Church. Of course, my “insights” all come from an East Coast, quasi-Protestant, somewhat middle class POV.)

    Anyway, I think I have a better sense of how these books are used. I just thumbed through my copy of the Brigham Young book – I apparently never made it far enough to realize it was all quotes (past the into & biographical sketch). I certainly don’t see where the Church would have any obligation to tackle Joseph’s teachings on plural marriage in the context of this study guide. And for my part, I wouldn’t consider it evidence of avoidance that those teachings are absent. On the other hand, doesn’t it seem odd that you would spend *two years* studying the teachings of the Prophet, but skip over what is arguably the most controversial revelation he offered?

    Thanks again guys for bearing with me as I display my woeful ignorance on the mysterious workings of the Church!

  44. Steve,
    By “we” I mean I participated in the discussion. First person plural. A-doy!

  45. Razorfish says:

    Re #30,

    The Church isn’t hiding anything with respect to the full unabridged history of the early church and the life of Joseph Smith.

    For the so-called more controversial matters, a full discussion can be explored in Rough Stone Rolling (Bushman) or by No Man knows My History (Brodie). Two different perspectives, but both have compelling incites from either side of the fence.

    For those members who want a wider-angle view of all historical issues, the material is widely available in these and other books as well as all over the Internet.

    The walls of correlation can’t suppress the historical realities and occasional tensions within the early Church. Nor do they have to alter or supplant a beliver’s testimony in the foundational truths of the Restoration. However, having the “full” story certainly brings the jig saw puzzle into better focus. I for one am glad to see some of these issues discussed in more traditional LDS sanctioned forums: General Conference, Ensign, Church News, LDS website, etc.

  46. Ben There says:

    but both have compelling incites from either side of the fence

    I can’t help but chuckle at the possibly intended use of the word incite rather than insight, given the explosive nature of the topic at hand (the “real” Joseph Smith).

    Nice job, Razorfish!

  47. Banky, how about if you hint to the dad-in-law that you might be interested in reading the Book of Mormon if you had a first edition, and then we split the proceeds? ;-)

  48. David Grua says:

    Eric Russell – You do know me. I thought that was you, but wasn’t sure enough to comment. Good to see you here as well.

  49. I think it would be interesting to find out how they decide what order to publish the manuals in. I mean, Joseph Smith would seem to be the natural first-pick, chronologically speaking. And how do they decide on topics without too much cross-over from years past?

    My cousin’s husband teaches seminary for a living and apparently is on the correlation committee. Maybe I’ll ask him. Come to think of it, how did he get chosen to be on the committee in the first place.

  50. Given that so much of the manual appears to be based on the History of the Church, does anyone have a handy list of the key articles/books on its development?

    (Justin . . . , where are you . . . ?)

  51. A few sources (all BYU Studies articles listed below can be accessed here):

    Jessee, Dean. “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History.” Journal of Mormon History 3 (1976): 23-46.

    —. “Priceless Words and Fallible Memories:
    Joseph Smith as Seen in the Effort to Preserve His Discourses.” BYU Studies 31 (Spring 1991): 19-37.

    —. “The Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” BYU Studies 11 (Summer 1971): 439-73.

    Peterson, Paul. “Understanding Joseph: A Review of Published Documentary Sources,” in Joseph Smith: The Prophet, the Man, ed. Susan Easton Black and Charles Tate (SLC: Deseret Book, 1993), 101-116.

    Searle, Howard. “Authorship of the History of Joseph Smith: A Review Essay.” BYU Studies 21 (Winter 1981): 101-22.

    —. “Authorship of the History of Brigham Young.” BYU Studies 22 (Summer 1982): 367-74.

    —. “Early Mormon Historiography: Writing the History of the Mormons, 1830-1858.” Dissertation. UCLA, 1979.

    —. “History of the Church (History of Joseph Smith).” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:648.

  52. A few sources (due to link restrictions on this blog, I cannot individually link the BYU Studies articles):

    Jessee, Dean. “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History.” Journal of Mormon History 3 (1976): 23-46.

    —. “Priceless Words and Fallible Memories:
    Joseph Smith as Seen in the Effort to Preserve His Discourses.” BYU Studies 31 (Spring 1991): 19-37.

    —. “The Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” BYU Studies 11 (Summer 1971): 439-73.

    Peterson, Paul. “Understanding Joseph: A Review of Published Documentary Sources,” in Joseph Smith: The Prophet, the Man, ed. Susan Easton Black and Charles Tate (SLC: Deseret Book, 1993), 101-116.

    Searle, Howard. “Authorship of the History of Joseph Smith: A Review Essay.” BYU Studies 21 (Winter 1981): 101-22.

    —. “Authorship of the History of Brigham Young.” BYU Studies 22 (Summer 1982): 367-74.

    —. “Early Mormon Historiography: Writing the History of the Mormons, 1830-1858.” Dissertation. UCLA, 1979.

    —. “History of the Church (History of Joseph Smith).” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:648.

  53. Thanks for the information on the manual, NoCoolName_Tom.

    Having seen the manual’s cover, I’ll say that I would have preferred a less idealized portrait of J.S (the David Lindsley portrait is used).

  54. Thanks, Justin. You never disappoint.

  55. For a different perspective, one may consult the Tanners’ tome Changes in Joseph Smith’s History. Other sources are listed in Quinn’s article “On Being a Mormon Historian” (see fn. 25).

  56. #33, i heard more or less the same thing from david whittaker

  57. Claire – I *love* that idea. I’d wager that if he already had a first edition, he’d send it right along if I expressed an interest in reading it. There are apparently limits, however – my wife says I can’t have a leather-bound edition with my name in gold script (like hers) unless I get baptized. I didn’t try that request on her father though, maybe there’s still hope. (Of course, now that we’re married I wouldn’t be surprised if Christmas brought new copies of her Scriptures with her new married name!)

  58. Nick Literski says:

    #35 Left Field,
    I have to retract part of my statement. There ARE elipses in the relevant quote. Here it is from the Brigham Young manual, page 49:

    Things were first created spiritually; the Father actually begat the spirits [see D&C 76:24], and they were brought forth and lived with him. Then he commenced the work of creating earthly tabernacles, precisely as he had been created in this flesh himself, by partaking of the coarse material that was organized and composed this earth, … consequently the tabernacles of his children were organized from the coarse materials of this earth (DBY, 50).

    Now, here is the original statement, from the Journal of Discourses, volume 4, pp. 217-18:

    Things were first created spiritually; the Father actually begat the spirits, and they were brought forth and lived with him. Then He commenced the work of creating earthly tabernacles, precisely as He had been created in this flesh Himself, by partaking of the coarse material that was organized and composed this earth, until His system was charged with it, consequently the tabernacles of His children were organized from the coarse materials of this earth.

    You will notice the idea of the Father’s “system” being “charged” with “coarse material” from this earth. Compare this to Journal of Discourses 1:50, and you’ll see that this idea marks the speech as an Adam-God discourse:

    When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken–HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, and thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession.

    If any further proof is necessary, here’s what Brigham Young said after the portion quoted in the manual, again from Journal of Discourses volume 4, page 218:

    When the time came that His first-born, the Savior, should come into the world and take a tabernacle the Father came Himself and favored that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Savior was begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same Being who is the Father of our spirits, and that is all the organic difference between Jesus Christ and you and me.

    Mind you, I’m not criticizing Brigham Young here. All I’m doing is showing that yes, the manual excised the original statement in order to downplay its origin as a reference to Father Adam as God.

  59. Nick, with all due respect, I’m underwhelmed.

  60. Nick Literski says:

    Nobody’s trying to “prove” any doctrine to you, Randy. I was merely answering another blogger’s question about which comment in the Brigham Young manual was an altered form of an Adam-God statement. You’re quite free to believe anything you like about it. You can believe Brigham Young was from Neptune, for all I care.

  61. Steve Evans says:

    But Nick — Brigham Young was NOT from Neptune! He wasn’t!

  62. Nick Literski says:

    Nope, but if they can’t twist Brigham’s words into something other than what he said, a lot of LDS seem to think he was coming from Uranus. ;-)

  63. Steve Evans says:

    Not mine.

  64. Nick, I never said you were trying to “prove” doctrine. I suspect you and I actually agree on whether Brigham taught the Adam-God doctrine. The quote you use for that point is a good one. For others, see Briney.

    What is leaving me underwhelmed is your apparent claim that the omission of “until His system was charged with it” from the above quote is some great offense on behalf of the correlation committee. I suppose others may disagree. In any event, surely you recognize that we are now a long way from where you started back in comment #22. In short, your charge against correlation on this score leaves me shrugging my shoulders.

    Don’t get me wrong; I have lots of issues with these manuals. But I can’t get all that worked about about this alleged sin.

  65. #43..
    Banky, you are O.K. Anytime you have questions, ask away.

  66. Left Field says:

    Thanks, Nick. In the print edition, the passage actually is found on page 50. My question was mainly about the ellipsis, not the editorial change per se. My experience in studying the passages relating to polygamy, was that the editors scrupulously employed proper editorial marks to indicate alterations from the original. In fact, I have not found a single case where an ellipsis is called for, but is omitted. I wondered if you had found the first.

    It is actually a very common claim that changes were made without annotation. That claim has been repeated so often in certain circles, that it’s almost become an article of faith; everyone knows it’s true, so nobody bothers to check it out. It makes a much better story to say that alterations were made without annotation, so it’s understandable how that bit of folklore got started and continues to propagate.

    Regarding the change itself, I mostly agree with Randy. 99 people out of a hundred are not going to recognize the omitted phrase as having anything to do with Adam-God. I think most wouldn’t have any idea what it’s about, which could in itself be a partial explanation as to why it was omitted. Regardless of it’s meaning, I don’t have a particular problem with the phrase being omitted. I would have much more of a problem if they had omitted the ellipsis, although an isolated instance like that could be regarded as an oversight.

    The manual actually cites the Discourses of Brigham Young as the source, rather than the original JD. The compilers of the manual relied very heavily on Widtsoe’s compilation. It’s quite possible that the phrase was actually omitted by Widtsoe, and simply quoted, ellipsis and all, in the manual. If I can remember, I’ll take a peek in the copy of DBY in my ward library, and see if that’s the case.

  67. Left Field, I checked DBY this morning, and the ellipsied phrase is in fact in there.

  68. It should be noted here that Charles C. Rich, who served in the quorum of the 12 at the time, was present for Pres. Young’s sermon and wrote by hand in his personal copy of the Journal of Discourses a correctionary note. The sermon clearly mentions Michael, Jehovah and Elohim, hearkening to the creationary account of the temple. Elder Rich noted that Brigham explicitly did not try in that sermon to preach that Adam was God the Father. He is God, a father, though, namely the father of the mortal human race, meaning our mortal head of the family, the Ancient of Days. In many other sermons this was clearly taught by Pres. Young.

    Thanks for the heads up on the manual; I went out and got it yesterday afternoon, and sure enough, it is very exciting!

  69. Left Field says:

    Thanks, Randy. Just to be clear, I read you as saying that the phrase is there, not that the phrase is also ellipsied in DBY?

  70. Lifeonaplate, it is important to note that individuals edited and approved their discourses before printing in the JD.

    As to the Widtsoe edition, it is not edited with historic sensibility. Jared*’s link above is a great examle.

  71. LifeOnaPlate, we can find at least dozens of private sources — journals, church meeting minutes, letters, etc. — that make the explicit claim that on various occasions Brigham Young explicitly taught that Adam was God the Father of Jesus Christ. Don’t rely too heavily on individual sources when there’s a broader picture to consider.

  72. Left Field, exactly right. Sorry I wasn’t clear. The phrase is in DBY, and there are no ellipses.

  73. To follow up on Left Field’s initial point in #65, I didn’t teach the BY manual and so can’t speak to that, but I did teach the Wilford Woodruff manual. And, thanks to Justin, read virtually every original source from which the manual was taken for nearly every lesson. Like Left Field, I don’t recall any failures to include elipses in the proper places. Indeed, the only changes not explicitly noted in the manual that I recall finding were corrected spelling and gramatical errors.

    Now there were, as is inevitable in this sort of endeavor, places where a quote had been stripped out of its context. One that springs to mind is a general quote included in the manual about listening to the promptings of the spirit, which, in context, was an explanation at the outset of a conference talk as to why Woodruff (as was common back then) had no prepared remarks. We obviously do things a little differently today, and it made for a fun class discussion. But again, no failures, at least that I found, to note that material had been from a quote.

  74. opps, make that “had been _omitted_ from a quote”

  75. Nick Literski says:

    #63 Randy:
    What is leaving me underwhelmed is your apparent claim that the omission of “until His system was charged with it” from the above quote is some great offense on behalf of the correlation committee.

    Hehe…No, that’s not what I was saying, Randy. If you look back to my original post, I was amused by it. I thought it was funny that they had altered a blatant Adam-God statement, and frankly, even the resulting misquote retains elements of Adam-God. Now, does the historian in me cringe at this sort of editing? Well, yes. I like authenticity. I think it’s unfortunate that they had to tweak a statement of Brigham Young in order to make him appear to say what they wish he’d said. But “great offense?” No, that wasn’t my point. :-)

  76. Nick Literski says:

    #65 & #66:
    That’s one thing to remember about the Brigham Young manual. Most of it is an expurgation of Discourses of Brigham Young, which was itself an expurgation of the Journal of Discourses.

  77. Point taken, Nick. I suppose I was projecting a bit. If the correlation committee had in fact omitted potentially embarrasing material without properly noting as much, as your original post suggested, I would have found that more than merely amusing.