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Church Rolls Out New D&C Website


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#1 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 05:18 PM

"Revelations in Context" (Hat tip to LDS.net's own Rameumptom, who covered this on the Millennial Star blog).

This is some remarkably solid, informative, and candid Church-produced history - the section on Oliver Cowdery even mentions his use of a divining rod.

Edited by Just_A_Guy, 03 February 2013 - 11:10 AM.
(Clarifying)

I still have no real discernment in anything.


#2 Tough Grits

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 05:21 PM

Awesome! Thanks for posting. This might help those of us who are teaching this year, and those of us that plan on learning. ^_^
~Sister Tough Grits

Life in the Church soon teaches us that the Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only our availability. And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability. ~Neal A. Maxwell

Blessed are those that can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. :lol:


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#3 CommanderSouth

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:54 PM

It's funny you mention Cowdery's divining rod, I just was looking through there and saw "Oliver Cowdery's Gift" and immediately opened in new tab :)

#4 Elphaba

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:36 AM

This is some remarkably solid, informative, and candid Church-produced history - the section on Oliver Cowdery even mentions his use of a divining rod.

Hey JAG,

Your description had me very excited to read these essays, and while I did enjoy them, I still found examples of the kinds of omissions and inaccurate information, sometimes major, I’ve come to know and loathe at official Church history sites.

For example, the essay “Thou Art an Elect Lady,“ completely excludes D&C 132 where, among other things, God gives a revelation commanding Emma to accept Joseph's other wives. Given the profound impact this revelation had on both Emma and the Church itself, this huge omission is the opposite of candid, and even strikes me as yet another attempt to shove polygamy under the rug, particularly Joseph’s polygamy. I realize I could be wrong, but why else would the author omit such a pivotal revelation in an essay specifically about revelations given to Emma?

Additionally, in the essay "The Contributions of Martin Harris," the author writes:

The angel appeared and gave again to Joseph the Urim and Thummim, or interpreters Joseph had originally received with the plates but had lost for having “wearied the Lord in asking that Martin Harris might take the writings.” 13 Using the Urim and Thummim, Joseph received the earliest of his revelations for which a text survives.

This is inaccurate. After the loss of the original 116 pages, Joseph’s “gift” of translation was restored to him, but not the U&T he had originally found with the Golden Plates. From this point on, he used one of the seer stones he had discovered some years prior to translate the remainder of the BoM, and, I presume, the revelation referenced in above. And while I know seer stones are sometimes also referred to as U&Ts, neither of them were the U&T that had been taken away from him as punishment for giving Harris the 116 transcribed pages.

Having said that, I do agree with you that including Cowdrey’s divining rod in the essay is candid and, IMO, a step in the right direction. I was also pleased to see how the author of the Martin Harris essay treated Lucy Harris’ actions. Rather than vilifying her like so many church members had done in the past, he wrote that her perspective and actions were understandable given she was terrified she was going to lose everything she had worked so hard for to what she believed was a con man. This is yet another step in the right direction, one I am noticing more and more often.

Like I said, I did enjoy the essays quite a lot, and had learned a few things I had not previously known. So, they are definitely "informative." I just had hoped for more "solid" and "candid."

Elphaba

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged.

Missing me one place, search another.

I stop somewhere waiting for you.

~~Walt Whitman


#5 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:57 AM

Hi Elphaba - good to see you back!

I'm reserving judgment on D&C 132 until the articles come out specifically dealing with that time frame of Church history. ;)

As for the U&T being restored (or not) after the Harris affair: I've heard that speculation before, but it seems no one can ever point to a primary and relatively contemporaneous source for the notion. Joseph Smith's 1841 history does define Urim and Thummim according to the typical LDS view (stones set in bows attached to breastplate) and clearly states that these were both taken from him during the Harris affair, and restored to him afterwards (Mss for Joseph Smith-History, circa 1841, pages 6 and 14; online here.) I recognize that a lot of early sources don't distinguish between the Nephite interpreters versus the Chase (or other) seer stones; but it's one thing to say "the history is murky". It's entirely another to openly state "this is inaccurate".

I still have no real discernment in anything.


#6 Elphaba

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:57 AM

Hi Elphaba - good to see you back!

Thank you! It's nice to talk with you again.

I'm reserving judgment on D&C 132 until the articles come out specifically dealing with that time frame of Church history. ;)

My point is that an article discussing revelations made specifically to Emma should include D&C 132: 51-56. Omitting those verses, which chastise her for not accepting the commandment that Joseph practice polygamy, looks suspiciously like it's been excluded to not have to deal with a difficult part of Church history. That's not what I would expect in a "solid" and "candid" article.

As for the U&T being restored (or not) after the Harris affair: I've heard that speculation before, but it seems no one can ever point to a primary and relatively contemporaneous source for the notion. Joseph Smith's 1841 history does define Urim and Thummim according to the typical LDS view (stones set in bows attached to breastplate) and clearly states that these were both taken from him during the Harris affair, and restored to him afterwards (Mss for Joseph Smith-History, circa 1841, pages 6 and 14; online here.) I recognize that a lot of early sources don't distinguish between the Nephite interpreters versus the Chase (or other) seer stones; but it's one thing to say "the history is murky". It's entirely another to openly state "this is inaccurate".


Thank you for the JSHistory reference. I had not seen that before, and agree it is persuasive. In my defense, I have read numerous sources stating the U&T was not returned, including the following FAIR article:

Did Joseph lose the seer stone(s) and/or the Urim and Thummim?

Following the loss of the 116 pages, the Lord told Joseph:

1 NOW, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.
2 And you also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened.
3 Nevertheless, it is now restored unto you again; therefore see that you are faithful and continue on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work of translation as you have begun.
4 Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end. (DC 10:1-4)

Thus, "it" (Joseph's gift) was restored to him, but there is no indication that the Nephite interpreters (Urim and Thummim) were also returned, Joseph having also lost "them." That is, after repenting, Joseph would recover his seer stones, but apparently not the Urim and Thummim. Some Church sources have seen this as the point at which Joseph received the seer stone for the first time, but this is likely incorrect:

As a chastisement for this carelessness [loss of the 116 pages], the Urim and Thummim was taken from Smith. But by humbling himself, he again found favor with the Lord and was presented a strange oval-shaped, chocolate colored stone, about the size of an egg, but more flat which it was promised should answer the same purpose. With this stone all the present book was translated.[24]

This source is clearly somewhat confused, since it sees Joseph as getting his dark stone after the 116 pages, when it likely dates to 1822 at the latest (see above).

David Whitmer, who only came in contact with the translation after the loss of the 116 pages, indicated through a friend that With the sanction of David Whitmer, and by his authority, I now state that he does not say that Joseph Smith ever translated in his presence by aid of Urim and Thummim; but by means of one dark colored, opaque stone, called a 'Seer Stone,' which was placed in the crown of a hat, into which Joseph put his face, so as to exclude the external light. Then, a spiritual light would shine forth, and parchment would appear before Joseph, upon which was a line of characters from the plates, and under it, the translation in English; at least, so Joseph said.[25]

Joseph also used the seer stone to keep himself and the plates safe, as his mother recorded:

That of which I spoke, which Joseph termed a key, was indeed, nothing more nor less than the Urim and Thummim, and it was by this that the angel showed him many things which he saw in vision; by which also he could ascertain, at any time, the approach of danger, either to himself or the Record, and on account of which he always kept the Urim and Thummim about his person.[26]

We see here the tendency to use the term "Urim and Thummim" to refer to Joseph's seer stone (or to the Nephite interpreters, which would have been too large for Joseph to carry on his person undetected). This lack of precision in terminology has, on occasion, confused some members who have not understood that either or both may be referred to by early LDS authors as "Urim and Thummim." To Joseph and his contemporaries, they were all the same type of thing, and merely differed in the strength of their power and ability. Clearly, devices from the Lord when directed by an angelic messenger (such as the Nephite interpreters) would outrank a seer stone found on one's own.

After reading the reference you provided, I agree with you that my use of "inaccurate" was . . . inaccurate, and that "murky" works well. I think the fact that not one single eyewitness to the translation process from that point on said Joseph used the interpreters that had supposedly been returned, but rather the seer stone, makes it reasonable to conclude we don’t know for sure what, exactly, was “returned” to Joseph. Was it the interpreters, his “gift,“ or perhaps even one of his seer stones? I don’t know. But in an article that is both “solid” and “candid,“ I think it is important to acknowledge the murkiness rather than present only one version of the story as if it is a verified fact, when it’s not.

I am sorry to keep harping on the words you used, i.e., "solid" and "candid." I did so to explain they did lead me to expect more from the articles than was perhaps intended. If so, my high expectations were probably unwarranted.

Elphaba

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged.

Missing me one place, search another.

I stop somewhere waiting for you.

~~Walt Whitman


#7 pam

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:59 AM

Elphaba!!! So good to see you.

#8 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 09:16 AM

Elphaba, I appreciate your response. My only observation re Emma Smith is that this series is revelations in context--the article on the site so far (in spite of its perhaps-unfortunate title) isn't a comprehensive biography of Emma; but rather a piece that contextualizes four specific revelations purportedly received in a very narrow time period in the summer of 1830. There is virtually no discussion of Emma's trials after 1830--nothing about leaving New York or her continual rocky relations with her parents, nothing about Missouri or the way she crossed the river with a number of Church documents hidden in her skirts for safekeeping, nothing about her ministrations to the Church members during the sickness of 1839 at Commerce, and only a passing reference to the organization of the Relief Society. The references to Cowdery that I've mentioned and the analysis of Lucy Harris that you cite give me very high hopes that this series' coverage of D&C 132, when it comes, will be a giant leap forward for Church-produced history on this topic. Given the tenor of the articles so far, I have no reason to think the series will "hush up" Emma's discomfort with polygamy, especially when the Church's existing CES manual for the D&C already mentions it (albeit in very general terms).

Edited by Just_A_Guy, 15 February 2013 - 09:23 AM.

I still have no real discernment in anything.


#9 Elphaba

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 06:47 PM

Elphaba, I appreciate your response. My only observation re Emma Smith is that this series is revelations in context--the article on the site so far (in spite of its perhaps-unfortunate title) isn't a comprehensive biography of Emma; but rather a piece that contextualizes four specific revelations purportedly received in a very narrow time period in the summer of 1830. There is virtually no discussion of Emma's trials after 1830--nothing about leaving New York or her continual rocky relations with her parents, nothing about Missouri or the way she crossed the river with a number of Church documents hidden in her skirts for safekeeping, nothing about her ministrations to the Church members during the sickness of 1839 at Commerce, and only a passing reference to the organization of the Relief Society.

Perhaps it is the series’ title, “Revelations in Context,“ that is throwing me. I thought it was specifically about, and organized by, revelations received for specific people, with the history provided only to show the context of that revelation. I did notice the essay on Martin Harris does not contain every single revelation directed toward him, so obviously it was not the series' goal to include each and every single occurrence. Nonetheless, the Harris exclusions were fairly unimportant revelations (if one can call a revelation that) compared to Emma's found in D&C 132, and it just makes no sense to me to have excluded it.

However, after I re-read your posts, I think you see this as a series about the history of these revelations, and thus, is organized historically. Is that accurate? You had mentioned an upcoming essay on D&C 132 a few times. Does that mean you know, for a fact, that it will be addressed in the series at a later date?

If my impression is correct, and the series is organized by revelations, I still maintain it was wrong to exclude Emma’s from D&C 132. Off the top of my head, I honestly cannot think of one revelation that requires additional context more than that one.

However, if you are correct that it is organized by history, then I think the series' title choice is confusing, but can also understand why they would leave Emma's D&C 132 revelations out of the already written article. The new one is going to be a doozy and will need all the space it can get. :P

Elph

Edited by Elphaba, 18 February 2013 - 06:51 PM.

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged.

Missing me one place, search another.

I stop somewhere waiting for you.

~~Walt Whitman


#10 Elphaba

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 06:49 PM

Elphaba!!! So good to see you.

Hey sweetie! What's swingin'? :P:D;)

Elph

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged.

Missing me one place, search another.

I stop somewhere waiting for you.

~~Walt Whitman


#11 Tough Grits

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:13 PM

OFF TOPIC: Elphaba!! I have been thinking about you SO much!! I am so happy to see that colorful eyelid again!! Ha Ha :lol: YAY!
~Sister Tough Grits

Life in the Church soon teaches us that the Lord does not ask us about our ability, but only our availability. And then, if we demonstrate our dependability, the Lord will increase our capability. ~Neal A. Maxwell

Blessed are those that can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. :lol:


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#12 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:46 PM

However, after I re-read your posts, I think you see this as a series about the history of these revelations, and thus, is organized historically. Is that accurate? You had mentioned an upcoming essay on D&C 132 a few times. Does that mean you know, for a fact, that it will be addressed in the series at a later date?


I can't claim to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what's going on in the minds of the powers that be over at the Church Historical Department, but the website contains an "index" section (here) that lists, inter alia, D&C 132 as "forthcoming".

The new one is going to be a doozy and will need all the space it can get.


Oh, you're making me drool . . .

Edited by Just_A_Guy, 18 February 2013 - 09:51 PM.

I still have no real discernment in anything.





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