The Shape of the Millennium

Apropos the current poll, I couldn’t resist sharing a fascinating description of the Millennium originally published in the Nauvoo Neighbor, but then reprinted in the Millennial Star (6, no. 9 (October 15, 1845): 140-142) and Dialogue (4, no. 1 (Spring 1969): 127-130). I do not currently have the time off work to track it down in the Neighbor, though I suspect on internal evidence that Phelps was the author (the vision uses Phelps’s sobriquets for church leaders, borrows a word apparently from the KEP, and emphasizes pure language, all characteristic of Phelps).[1]

The piece is a vision entitled “One Hundred Years Hence. 1945,” and its prophecies are fascinating:

  • The world ended ca. 1895-1905
  • An annual martyrs’ feast is held April 7 every year since then in honor of Joseph and Hyrum; Attendant at the feast were “the worthy of the earth, with Adam at their head; the martyrs of the different dispensations, with Abel at their head; and honourable men from other worlds.”
  • Jesus is grand King, but it appears the Church is run by Joseph Smith and John the Revelator, who planned 48 new Zion cities for 1945.
  • General Conferences are now held in January and July.
  • In an almost perfect anticipation of Planet of the Apes, New York City is discovered during excavation of the foundation for the temple of the 124th City of Joseph. A time capsule contains newspaper accounts of the final conflagration.
  • A tombstone marking hell bears the inscription “Mo 1838″[2]
  • The new church organ is “Zo-ma-rah or Pure News”[3]

I’ll leave to those more facile with the Mormon PDF archives the establishment of links to the relevant texts. And I am eager to hear if anyone has more information about provenance and reception.Also, how would you picture the Millennium?

[1] John Taylor was editing the Neighbor at the time and was known to work with Phelps. Apparently the piece has been attributed to Parley Pratt over the years, as per Stapley’s input. Other authors are certainly possible; hopefully someone has access to the Neighbor and there is a byline there. This authorial assignment is much more tentative than others in a paper on Phelps’s ghostwriting forthcoming in Journal of Mormon History.
[2] This refers to the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri.
[3] This appears to be invoking the word Zomar, a term likely held to be Adamic that appears in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and in Booth’s letters on Mormonism. The word means “Zion” according to those two sources.


  1. Also, how would you picture the Millennium?

    Less violent than the world today. We might just finally stop being at each others’ throats.

  2. Alas, Uncle Dale hasn’t finished uploading his transcripts and this piece doesn’t appear on his Neighbor site yet. Here is the Millennial Star link.

    Flake & Draper note a couple of reprints (6575, 6576a) and list it under the authorship of Parley Pratt. The Signature Books Essential Parley Pratt also includes the piece.

  3. I only know that before the Millennium the Bloggernacle will finally come to agreement on political, religious, and feminist issues, unite under the leadership of Kevin Barney, with no poor among them, and be taken up into heaven. Only the Snarker will be LEFT BEHIND to explain to all the electronically challenged their fate.

  4. My reaction to the piece is that it is great. Granted, I pretty much loathe modern eschatalogical fiction, but historical musings are great fun.

    I just hope there is a decent substitute for babyback ribs.

  5. BiV,
    I can get behind Kev’s kingship.

    What a delightful bit of science-fiction.

  6. Also, how would you picture the Millennium?

    I view the millennium as metaphor, and don’t anticipate a literal event.

    The question that interests me is “what are the religious impulses that gave rise (and sustain) a belief in a Millennium?”

  7. I know a guy who served his hitch in the military at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. He also thinks that MO = hell.

  8. I’ve heard a second for Kev’s kingship. All who can sustain him in this calling? Any opposed? *thwack* (gavel banging down)

    Kevin has been made King.

  9. Kingship? What blasphemy. I was campaigning for Kevin as an Enoch-esque prophet.

  10. It is interesting that you chose a nickname that is another word for millenialism which is defined as believing that there will be a literal (as opposed to metaphorical) period of time where Christ reigns personally on earth before it becomes glorified etc. *grin*

    I cannot vouch for any of the impulses that were connected to the initial concept of or faith in an actual Millennium event, but it was an accepted and understood (literal) religious tenant even for the ancient Jews.

    I would be interested in how you define and apply the idea metaphorically…what does it mean to you?

  11. Nick Literski says:

    Argh…the Muslim in my apartment building is a “religious tenant.” His beliefs are religious “tenets.”

  12. Steve Evans says:

    BIV, can I encourage you to shorten your moniker to just BIV for commenting purposes? It’s…..distracting.

  13. Nick, you are such a piller of fastidiousness.

  14. “…and honourable men from other worlds.”

    Including Zorax the Seer, who spent 10 days in the belly of a Bornot when he refused to take the gospel to the sinful masses living on the third moon of Jelnosh.

    Oh, and Luke Skywalker, I’m sure he was there too. Never turns down an invite to BBQ that one.

  15. Of course, Steve. Anything to not be…distracting. That’s the purpose of the veil, after all.

  16. Nick Literski says:

    Nick, you are such a piller [sic] of fastidiousness.

    Oh, the irony. ;-)
    Okay, I’ll stop it now.

  17. I think the Millennium is going to look a lot like “Field of Dreams”.

    People getting to “have a catch” again with Dad, and making up for all the silly estrangements they let themselves get all caught up in during mortality.

    “Is this heaven?”

    “No, it’s Iowa.”

  18. Well said, BIV (in 15). For those unaware, she’s living in the Middle East now.

  19. StillConfused says:

    In the millenium, I will no longer be StillConfused for all of my questions shall be answered. Instead, I shall be the Woman Formerly Known As StillConfused

  20. In the Millennium, Steve and JStapley will not email me and accuse me of using my handle to drive traffic to my individual blog.

    My apologies to all. I’m only trying to figure out how to maintain my identity while no longer living in Vernal.

    Formerly Bored in Vernal
    Formerly Behind the Infamous Veil
    Formerly BIn accused Vnjustly
    Now BiV

  21. I read that, J–but it was sweet of you to take it down.

  22. Steve Evans says:

    BIV, I didn’t email you or accuse you of anything, but I’ll accuse you now of being oversensitive about your moniker.

  23. I assume in the Millennium it will be like that episode of the Simpsons where Homer is in the Garden of Eden (the Earth will receive its paradisiacal glory, right?) and he was able to just turn over the pigs and eat bacon off their stomachs. I am sure there will something similar for baby back ribs.

  24. aaaaaahhhhh, bacon.

  25. The Simpsons/bacon/baby back ribs, reminds me of the cow in the book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

    Maybe they’ll have found a way to make tofu baby back ribs that will taste like the real thing.

    I’ve always assumed that I’ll be dead before the millenium arrives.

    I’ve pictured it as a time where folks are kind, polite, and respectful to one another. I remember reading a quote from BY in the old BoM institute manual that said knees will bow and tongues confess and then people can go back to worshiping whatever they choose (white dogs included).

    Here’s a link Journal of Discourses Volume 2. It’s about page 317 (search on “dog”)

  26. #19- Is there a symbol in the works for that? :)

    #17 Mark- My husband says “NOOOOOOOO!!!! Surely that is how the celestial kingdom will be, not the Millenium”. He says “only 1000 years wouldn’t be fair”.

    #25 AC-there is no way I can accept that Zion or heaven involves tofu of any kind…no matter how much it tastes like ribs! :P

  27. Oh, and Nick-PMS. Pardon My Spelling

  28. Re the names of the rivers in the piece: any possible meanings?

    The Fraters (fraternal brothers?)

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