long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Peer Review of Lund's 1842 chronology

John Lund has published a web addendum titled "Joseph Smith's Whereabouts During the 228 Days of His Editorship of the Times and Seasons." It is available here.
This is a useful guide, but it doesn't make the point Lund wants it to.

Here is his introduction, with my comments:

Certain Great Lakes Advocates have made un-researched and unfounded claims about Joseph being out of the general area of Nauvoo during the publication of the September 15, 1842, and the October 1, 1842, editions of the Times and Seasons newspaper. These were the editions that identified the narrow neck of land being in Central America and Zarahemla being in the boundaries of the Guatemala of 1842. Obviously those who want Zarahemla to be somewhere other than where Joseph declared it to be in Guatemala don’t want to be in opposition to the Prophet. They want to find some way to discredit the fact that Joseph authored the articles (this isn't a fact, and it never was; even before the Benjamin Winchester saga came to light, prudent authors noted that the articles were unsigned and the author was unknown. Lund is probably referring to his analysis of stylometry, but his own analysis showed that Joseph couldn't have been the author.) that contradict their own favored location for Zarahemla. Claiming that Joseph was out of town and therefore unavailable to write the editorials in question, was one way to do it. Their logic is flawed. Even if Joseph were out of town did not mean he could not have written the editorials and sent them by messenger to be published. (Actually, that's exactly what Joseph did. In September 1842, Joseph sent the letters that became Sections 127 and 128 to the editor of the Times and Seasons to be published because he was not acting as editor.) However a complete and comprehensive search of Joseph’s whereabouts demonstrated that he was never more than a few miles away from Nauvoo during the publication of the Times and Seasons while he served as editor-in-chief. (He was the named editor, but as the examples of sections 127 and 128 show, Joseph was not "serving" as editor. Someone else was. Woodruff and Taylor were out sick, so who was acting as editor? I've explained elsewhere that it was William Smith, a point that Lund failed to consider.)

The most amazing thing about Lund's daily account of Joseph's whereabouts is the complete absence of any reference to Joseph editing or publishing the Times and Seasons after July 11.

On July 11, Joseph spent "the afternoon at the printing office reading the papers," or, in JSP, "in the P.M. was at the printing office reading mail papers." See 11 July 1842, here: http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/history-1838-1856-volume-c-1-2-november-1838-31-july-1842?p=522&highlight=Catherwood%20have%20succeeded%20in%20collecting%20in%20the%20interior%20of%20America#!/paperSummary/history-1838-1856-volume-c-1-2-november-1838-31-july-1842&p=530

The last time Joseph mentions writing something for a newspaper was on July 2, 1842. Lund skips over this in his account, presumably because Joseph wrote the piece for the Wasp. But that event creates a precedent for Joseph writing material for his brother William to publish.

On July 15, Joseph's journal indicates he "Issued an Editorial in the Times and Seasons on the Government of God." While this may imply that he wrote it, the term "issued" could also mean that he merely published it. Lund misstates the entry. Lund writes "recorded the editorial..." implying that Joseph wrote it.

The journal entry for 30 July 1842 reads, "My Wife’s Nephew L[orenzo] D. Wasson, who had gone out on a preaching Mission  wrote us this day, from Philadelphia, see Times and Seasons 891. and 892." This indicates that Joseph either published the letter or gave it to someone else to publish.

The letter was actually published in the 15 August Times and Seasons--two weeks after the journal entry. This brings up a key point about the journal Lund uses as a reference (as well as the History of the Church). It was created later (starting around 24 February 1845) as a manuscript journal. It is in the handwriting of Thomas Bullock, compiled by Willard Richards and Bullock. Many of the entries, such as this one, are retrospective in nature. The journal was compiled after Joseph died.

Lund doesn't mention this, but it is a critical fact. In fact, Lund appears to be intentionally misleading on this point. In his entry for June 25th, Lund writes "Recorded that, 'Messrs. Stephens and Catherwood have succeeded in collecting in the interior of America a large amount of relics of the Nephites, or the ancient inhabitants of America treated of in the Book of Mormon...'" but he cites JSP-Journals 2:68, where this does not appear. It does appear in the HC 5:44, because HC was taken from the Bullock manuscript journal; i.e., this passage about the Nephites was added later, during the compilation after Joseph died. At most, it reflects the opinion of Bullock (and maybe Richards), well after the fact.

An unwary reader would not know this, but Lund editorializes here that Joseph "recorded that" Stephens collected Nephite relics, when Lund had to know that Joseph's contemporaneous journal did not include this. The passage he claims Joseph recorded was added later, by Bullock. This kind of misleading compilation casts doubt on all of Lund's work.

On August 15, Lund claims that Joseph "read the Aug 15, 1842, edition of the Times and Seasons. He records in the History of the Church, 'The following editorial appeared in the Times and Seasons: PERSECUTION.'" Despite Lund's citation to JSP-Journals 2:87-92, no such account is contained there. Lund appears to be making another inference from the History of the Church, which Joseph didn't write. The reference to the Persecution article was recorded later, during the compilation of the History of the Church.

This one is particularly ironic because the Persecution article was almost certainly written by William Smith. It refers to Joseph in the third person. It contains rhetoric typical of William's editorials in the Wasp, both in terms of linguistics and in subject matter. The 15 August Times and Seasons constitutes evidence of William's role at the Times and Seasons, as author, editor, and publisher.

For August 21, 1842, Lund claims "Sidney Rigdon's experience was written by Joseph Smith." There is zero evidence that Joseph wrote this. In fact, it definitely was not. The entry in his journal is written by William Clayton, and refers to Joseph in the third person. It describes Rigdon visiting Hyrum and mentions that Orson Pratt decided to go preaching. There is no indication that Joseph was even present for any of these events; in fact, the entry starts out by noting Joseph was in the room over the store. The separate Times and Seasons article about this event (published on 15 September) was unsigned and could have been written by anyone, but William Smith, in the Wasp, had written on this topic. The note in JSP Journal 2:97 reads:
Difficulties between JS and members of Rigdon’s family had existed for several months. Rigdon’s son-in-law George W. Robinson had recently published his withdrawal from the church, claiming that “scandalous attacks [had], at several times, been made on myself, in connection with Mr. Rigdon.” The Wasp responded by publishing statements about Robinson’s allegedly dishonest business dealings. (JS, Journal, 12 and 13 May 184228 June 184229 Aug. 1842; George W. Robinson, “Letter from Nauvoo,” Quincy [IL] Whig, 23 July 1842, [2]; “G. W. Robinson,” The Wasp, 30 July 1842, [2].)  

The most likely author of the Times and Seasons account is William Smith.

On August 22, Lund claims Joseph wrote in the Book of the Law of hte Lord, when it was completely dictated.

On August 27th, Joseph was in the assembly room. He spent these days at home and going to meetings, but there is not a single mention of him going to the printing office.

Lund does mention the letters that became Sections 127 and 128, but he omits the critical comment in the Times and Seasons about the September 1 letter. The editor introduces it by writing this:

"The following letter was read to the Saints in Nauvoo, last Sunday week, and a copy forwarded to us for publication:-and cordially we give it a hearty welcome, and a happy spread among those who love the truth for the truth's sake."

Joseph Smith did not write the letter and then forward it to himself for publication. Someone else was publishing the Times and Seasons.

On September 21, Joseph met with Elder Taylor concerning the printing office, but they met in the large room over the store. Why not meet at the printing office itself?

On September 22, Joseph was at home, "arranging with Remmick concerning moving printing press..., buying paper, &c." Again, why not meet at the printing office? This discussion of printing office business affairs, combined with the complete lack of mention of any editing activities, all taking place away from the printing office itself, supports the conclusion that Joseph was not acting as editor.

Even on October 1st, Joseph says he "would have a notice published" about the temple committee accounts. He doesn't say he would publish the notice because he was having someone else do the publishing.

Lund's work is valuable for showing that Joseph was mostly in Nauvoo or in close proximity, but it is also valuable for demonstrating that Joseph had no involvement with the editorial or publishing activities at the Times and Seasons.

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