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Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsHedges, Andrew H.
EditorRicks, Stephen D., Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges
Book TitleThe Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson
PublisherFoundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
CityProvo, UT

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Andrew H. Hedges

In 1996 Richard Lloyd Anderson celebrated his seventieth birthday and retired from the Religious Education faculty at Brigham Young University. To commemorate both events, as well as recognize Anderson’s contributions in teaching and researching both the ancient and modern church, BYU’s Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) teamed up with Religious Education to sponsor a Festschrift in Anderson’s honor. A call for papers was issued, a conference entitled Pioneers of the Restoration was planned and announced, and selected papers were presented on 8 March 1997 to an audience of several hundred in the auditorium of BYU’s Joseph Smith Building. The papers delivered that day, as well as several others, were subsequently reviewed and edited, at which point it was decided to publish them in two volumes—one (this volume) to contain papers dealing with the history of the restored church, and the other, The Disciple as Scholar: Essays on Scripture and the Ancient World in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, comprised of articles on the ancient world.
Our desire to publish this particular volume of essays reflects the enormous impact Anderson’s work has had on the study of LDS Church history. Trained as both a historian and lawyer, the cautious, probing, analytical approach he brought to the field more than forty years ago revolutionized the way scholars have researched and written about Joseph Smith and the church he restored. Taking nothing for granted, Anderson reexamined the sources we thought we all knew, asked questions we never considered, and mined archives we never knew existed. The result was nothing short of spectacular, as the publications resulting from these efforts have largely rewritten our understanding of many of the seminal experiences of the early church and her founding prophet.
Anderson’s legacy in the field of LDS Church history extends beyond his groundbreaking books and articles. A devoted teacher, careful writer, and perfect gentleman, Anderson has interjected a much-needed professionalism and dignity into a field plagued with scathing accusations, rancorous debates, and emotional responses. Eager to collaborate and ever willing to share, he has influenced many who have come under his tutelage toward a career in church history and education, at the same time building bridges of trust and respect with many whose personal beliefs about Joseph Smith and the restoration differ markedly from his own.
This volume of essays is both evidence for, and a tribute to, Anderson’s continuing influence in the field. In one way or another—as teacher, mentor, colleague, or friend—each contributor to this volume has been touched by the kindness of his personality and the caliber of his work. The breadth of topics these essays cover and the quality of their research and writing reflects Anderson’s own work, thus our desire to share them with him and others.
Appropriately enough, the volume begins with an essay on Joseph Smith. In “Second Only to Christ: Joseph Smith in Modern Mormon Piety,” James B. Allen discusses “the role of Joseph Smith in the religious life of the Mormon community.” Drawing on both personal experience and the records of those who knew Joseph personally, Allen concludes that even with the Prophet’s human imperfections glaringly manifest at times, church members continue to find in Joseph Smith and his teachings a life in harmony with the Savior’s example to a degree no one else has ever attained. A lifelong member of the church and a renowned historian, Allen discusses the church’s view of Joseph with a sensitivity all can appreciate.
In “The Ram and the Lion: Lyman Wight and Brigham Young,” Davis Bitton chronicles and explains the apostle Lyman Wight’s disaffection with—and ultimate excommunication from—the church following the martyrdom. Fiercely loyal to Joseph Smith, and missing out—as a result of circumstances beyond his control—on opportunities to bond with Brigham Young and other members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Wight (Bitton argues) was unable to support Brigham after Joseph’s death and find his niche in the postmartyrdom church. Bitton’s insights and conclusions are based on several years’ study of Wight and constitute a significant addition to the literature on this sad but important chapter in church history.
In “The Tomb of Joseph,” Susan Easton Black presents evidence suggesting that she has found the tomb Joseph Smith apparently made to house his and his family’s earthly remains. Teaming up with stonemason Robert L. Christensen and documenting her find with pictures by photographer John Telford, Black presents evidence that the walled-in cavern she found while serving as a missionary in Nauvoo in 1995 predates the Nauvoo Temple and could be the tomb mentioned prominently in church annals. While the evidence is far from conclusive, it is clear that the topic of Joseph’s tomb and the cavern Black found deserve further study.
Donald Q. Cannon, in his article, “Words of Comfort: Funeral Sermons of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” reminds us that “Joseph Smith taught some of the most profound doctrines of the restoration in funeral sermons.” Drawing on the eight funeral sermons of Joseph for which a written record has survived, as well as various comments that the Prophet made about others he knew who had died, Cannon delineates the important doctrines Joseph introduced and amplified in these moments of reflection. A longtime student of Joseph’s doctrinal teachings, Cannon concludes that these sermons, “taken together, testify of the divine calling of Joseph Smith.”
In “Richard Lloyd Anderson and Worldwide Church Growth,” Richard O. Cowan reminds us that Anderson not only studied church history, but played a conspicuous role in the history himself. Cowan traces the development, outlines, and impact of Anderson’s famous “Anderson Plan” for missionary work, which he developed while serving in the navy during World War II and as a missionary in the Northwestern States Mission following the war. While methods of proselyting have evolved since that time, Cowan notes that the Anderson Plan “laid important foundations on which subsequent missionary programs have been built” and constitutes a watershed event in the history of the church’s eminently successful missionary program.
Using sources hitherto unavailable for study, Scott Faulring’s article, “The Return of Oliver Cowdery,” adds materially to our understanding of the steps leading to Oliver Cowdery’s rebaptism in November 1848. Tracing Cowdery’s continued contact with various church members after his excommunication in April 1838, Faulring brings to light how eagerly the church’s leadership sought Cowdery’s repentance and rebaptism. He also demonstrates Cowdery’s own yearning to have his reputation cleared and to be numbered again among the Saints. Faulring’s article builds on Anderson’s own work on Cowdery and constitutes an important addition to our understanding of this significant figure in our history.
In “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri,” Egyptologist John Gee applies Anderson’s rigorous standards of assessment to statements concerning the extent of the Joseph Smith Papyri and Joseph’s understanding of the papyri’s content. Gee finds that many of the surviving statements about the papyri and Joseph’s use of them come from secondhand sources and hearsay rather than from eyewitnesses and cautions against drawing firm conclusions about the papyri from such sources. Gee concludes by arguing that the firsthand accounts, used carefully, suggest a number of important things about the papyri and their translator—for one, that the well-known Kirtland Egyptian Papers have virtually nothing to do with the translation of the Book of Abraham and, for another, that the Book of Abraham came by revelation rather than Joseph employing modern Egyptological methods of translation.
Setting a poem by Dr. Arthur Henry King to music, Gary P. Gillum here presents a new missionary hymn entitled “Every Kindred, Tongue, and People” in honor of Anderson’s influence on missionary work. Feeling both the words and music to be inspired, Gillum finds the hymn a fitting tribute to Anderson’s continuing involvement in missionary work, and “a testimony to all who seek the gifts of the Spirit.”
Kenneth W. Godfrey, like Gee, urges a caution in his article, “David Whitmer and the Shaping of Latter-day Saint History.” Godfrey points out that while historians have been quick to pick apart Joseph’s own writings, they have often accepted David Whitmer’s accounts at face value, even though most were recorded years—even decades, in some instances—after the event, and often deal with events with which Whitmer was not involved. Illustrating his point, Godfrey notes inconsistencies within Whitmer’s own accounts of his introduction to Joseph Smith, the translation of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the priesthood, and other important events, as well as inconsistencies between his version of events and what others reported.
In “Pleasing the Eye and Gladdening the Heart: Joseph Smith and Life’s Little Pleasures,” Andrew H. Hedges shows how Joseph Smith’s appreciation for the natural world, physical exercise, and the society of his friends was somewhat of an anomaly on the early American religious scene. Comparing Joseph’s lifestyle and teachings with a variety of popular religious pamphlets and readings of the time, Hedges concludes that the “contrast between Joseph Smith and the nineteenth-century ideal of a religious man could not have been greater.”
In an effort to help the reader better appreciate the “obscure and humble beginnings” of the church, Kent P. Jackson highlights a variety of church history sites and artifacts in his photo-essay, “Scenes from Early Latter-day Saint History.” Drawing on his extensive private collection of photographs, Jackson provides images and explanations of locations and relics—some quite famous, others less known—of significant restoration events. Illustrating the mobility of the early church and its missionaries, Jackson’s fifteen photographs cover sites in Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and England.
In his article, “Antiquities, Curiosities, and Latter-day Saint Museums,” Glen M. Leonard traces the rationale for, and history of, church-sponsored museums. Noting that the collection and exhibition of antiquities for church purposes began with Joseph’s displaying Michael Chandler’s Egyptian mummies in Kirtland, Leonard suggests that the impulse to collect received fresh impetus in connection with the Nauvoo revelation calling for the Saints to bring “all your antiquities” to help build and decorate the Nauvoo temple (D&C 124:26). Viewing museums as an important component in fulfilling the Saints’ mandate to learn “of things both in heaven and in the earth,” the Nauvoo Saints (Leonard argues) articulated the arguments that would inform the church’s sponsorship of museums through the Winter Quarters era, early Utah, and the twentieth century.
Robert J. Matthews’s article, “The Role of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible in the Restoration of Doctrine,” culminates a lifetime of study on the Prophet’s work with the Bible. Deploring LDS scholars’ traditional lack of appreciation for the Joseph Smith Translation in restoration scripture, Matthews reminds us of the Bible’s incompleteness and of the problems facing scholars attempting to recover its original text and meaning. Drawing on his years of work with the original manuscript of the Joseph Smith Translation, Matthews then shows how Joseph first learned about several important, uniquely LDS, points of doctrine while translating the Bible rather than from the Book of Mormon or other sources; he concludes that “the Prophet’s translation of the Bible is a primary source for much of the doctrinal content of the church.”
Noel B. Reynolds revisits a topic that has occupied and divided scholars for years in his article, “The Authorship Debate concerning Lectures on Faith: Exhumation and Reburial.” Accepting the impossibility at this point in time of determining with exactness who authored the Lectures on Faith, Reynolds reviews the authorship debate, possible historical reasons behind the Lectures’ content, and the rhetorical style of the Lectures in light of 1830s Protestantism to conclude that Sidney Rigdon rather than Joseph Smith probably played the leading role in their production.
Royal Skousen puts the Book of Mormon’s original typesetter to the test in “John Gilbert’s 1892 Account of the 1830 Printing of the Book of Mormon.” Skousen compares Gilbert’s recollection of how he set the type for the Book of Mormon—a recollection he made sixty-three years after the fact—with evidence about the printing contained in surviving records and finds that Gilbert’s memory was remarkably accurate for the thirteen specific details he mentioned. In the process of vindicating ninety-year-old Gilbert’s memory, Skousen provides the reader with many little-known details about the printing of the Book of Mormon.
In “Historical Perspectives on the Kirtland Revelation Book,” John A. Tvedtnes looks for clues about the “textual development of the written revelations of Joseph Smith.” Tvedtnes summarizes the contents of the Kirtland Revelation Book (KRB)—a manuscript record of forty-eight revelations from the Kirtland era, forty-four of which are in our current Doctrine and Covenants. Next he argues from the dates of the revelations, the handwriting, and the order in which they were recorded that at least some of the entries are originals rather than copies. Tvedtnes’s painstaking analysis yields other suggestions as well about the role the KRB played in the preservation of Joseph’s revelations and the production of the Doctrine and Covenants. Tvedtnes’s article is a fascinating addendum to Robert J. Woodford’s well-known study of the historical development of that important book of scripture.
John W. Welch reminds us in “Oliver Cowdery’s 1835 Response to Alexander Campbell’s ‘Delusions'” that even in the church’s infancy, debates about the legitimacy of the restoration centered around the Book of Mormon. Welch briefly reviews Alexander Campbell’s well-known 1831 critique of the Book of Mormon and then analyzes Oliver Cowdery’s less-known response of four years later, published in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate in Kirtland. Welch notes that Cowdery avoided the temptation to respond to Campbell’s critique point by point, opting rather for a more sophisticated approach based on affirming and defending three fundamental tenets of the restored gospel. Welch concedes Cowdery the victor in this particular exchange and commends his methods to modern defenders of the Book of Mormon.
As a further tribute to Anderson’s influence on missionary work, David J. Whittaker reviews both scholarly and church literature relating to the history of Latter-day Saint missionary efforts in “Mormon Missiology: An Introduction and Guide to the Sources.” Whittaker begins this monumental task by providing a general overview of LDS mission history and then discusses sources ranging from general overviews of missionary work to church-sponsored manuals for missionaries to histories of missionary work in specific locales. Given the central role missionary work has played in the history of the restored gospel, Whittaker sees its study as fundamental to understanding the church as a whole and concludes by suggesting several related topics that deserve further study.
We acknowledge the efforts of Stephen D. Ricks and Donald W. Parry in issuing the call for papers that resulted in these articles, and the efforts of M. Gerald Bradford, Richard O. Cowan, and Andrew H. Hedges in organizing the conference where some of these papers were originally presented. We also wish to recognize the efforts of several other people, without whose involvement this volume would never have been completed: Shirley S. Ricks, who managed the editing process from beginning to end; Jessica Taylor, who lent her typesetting and editing skills to the completion of this volume; Alison V. P. Coutts, who shared her multitude of organizational and editorial talents in bringing this project to fruition; Reed D. Andrew, Daniel L. Belnap, Rebecca M. Flinders, Marc-Charles Ingerson, and Robyn Patterson, who spent many hours source checking; Josi J. Brewer, Rebecca S. Call, Wendy H. Christian, Whitney Fox, Melissa E. Garcia, Paula W. Hicken, and K. Laura Sommer for their proofreading in various stages; and Sherrie M. Johnson for creating the indexes. We thank these many individuals who have aided in the process of honoring Richard Lloyd Anderson.
—Andrew H. Hedges